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Africa :: A Homeschool Unit Study


Africa :: The People & Geography

In the summer of 2010, my next door neighbor and I teamed up to create a Geography Co-cop, selecting Africa as our first destination. We spent several weeks inundating ourselves into the culture of the diverse continent - exploring the food, music, art, and language. This lens provides an outline for the activities and lessons that took part in over the course of the summer.


Co-op Organization & Overview

My neighbor is a retired teacher and the grandparent of two girls the same age as my children. This summer we are venturing on a journey through the continent of Africa together ... team-teaching a variety of lessons to engage our kids in the culture and geography of Africa.

We will meet three mornings a week for approximately 90 minutes. In that time, we will do a variety of activities that will incorporate the art, language, music, science and history of Africa. Each day, the children will also journal about what they learned each day in illustrations and words.

Africa Lessons & Printables

  • Africa Geography
    A great site that not only provides a brief description of the geography of Africa but also provides links for further exploration.
  • Homeschool Creations Africa Lesson Plans and Resources
    Lesson plans and ideas for teaching children about Africa. Includes the countries of Eygypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania. Notebooking pages for flags and also country maps as well as book recommendations and links/resources.

Getting Started - The Geography of the Continent


This first week, our focus was to introduce the kids to the 7 continents, assuring they were able to locate each on a globe and printed map. We also discussed the overall geography of the continent of Africa - emphasizing the three main ecosystems in Africa (savannas, deserts, and rain forests). While the kids worked in their journals or between activities, we also introduced the kids to African music.

Africa Printables

Activities for Week One

  • Overview of the 7 Continents
  • Practiced identifying Africa on the globe & on a printed map
  • Shared what we know about Africa and what questions we have
  • Salt Dough Map of the African Continent
  • Put together a floor puzzle of the world, identifying the continents as we did so
  • Drew map of the continent showing the three major ecosystems (Savannah, Desert & Rainforest)
  • Listened & danced to the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

Week 2 :: Northern Africa


This week our focus was on the Northern countries of Africa. Ultimately, we wanted the kids to become familiar with the cultural diversity and to become familiar with some of the foods in this region.

Activities for Week Two

  • Read aloud a book on the Sahara
  • Read about the Tuarag of the Sahara
  • Began a flip-book of the cultural diversity of Africa
  • Prepared and enjoyed the national dish of Algeria, Saffron & Raisin Couscous
  • Illustrated on a map the cultural regions of a variety of ethnic groups in Northern Africa (shown in the picture above)
  • Discussed differences between soils (potting soil/dirt, clay, and sand) and took part in a soil erosion experiment. Described in more detail below.
  • Prepared Carthagenian Flank Steak & Chickpea Tagine, a North African dish, for a family dinner

Soil Erosion Experiment


North African Cooking

Saffron & Raisin Couscous with Fresh Mint - National Dish of Algeria



1 1/2 cup water

3/8 teaspoon saffron threads

Scroll to Continue

3/4 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

3/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup couscous

1/4 cup raisins

2 1/4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint


1) In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the saffron. Remove from the heat, cover, and let

stand for 30 minutes.

2) Return the pan to the heat, bring to a boil, and mix in the olive oil, salt, couscous, and raisins.

Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes.

3) Using a fork and your fingertips, fluff the couscous to separate the grains. Taste and adjust the

seasonings. Stir in the mint. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

Carthagenian Flank Steak & Chick Pea Tagine - North African Dish




1 cup onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1/4 cup fresh oregano

2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

Salt and pepper

1 (2-pound) flank steak


In a large glass bowl or ziplock bag, combine all the ingredients. Score the flank steak and place in the marinade. Marinate at least 20 minutes and up to overnight.

Heat a grill or grill pan. Remove the flank steak from the bag and pat dry. Grill 4 to 5 minutes per side. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.

Serves 4



2 Pounds Chick Peas -- Soaked Overnight

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Saffron

1/4 Teaspoon Paprika

1/2 Teaspoon Cumin

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

3 Large Tomatoes -- Chopped

1 Large Red Onion -- Grated

1 Bunch Cilantro -- Chopped

1 Bunch Parsley -- Chopped

Salt And Pepper -- To Taste

Hot Sauce -- To Taste


Cook chickpeas until tender, drain. Heat oil in saucepan, stir in spices and cook 1 minute; add remaining ingredients including chickpeas, cover simmer 15 minutes. Serves 4

More North African Recipes - Dishes to delight all tastes

  • Morrocan Recipes
    Collection of 4000 recipes from all over the world. Great international and ethnic cuisine. This link brings up a list of Morrocan dishes.
  • African Gourmet Recipes
    North African, Moroccan, Tunisian, Algerian, Libyan and Egyptian gourmet recipes.

Week 3 :: Western Africa


In week three, we moved to Western Africa and began to explore more indepthly, the music and the instruments of the continent. Additionally, we began to incorporate more folktales and literature into our studies.

Activities for Week Three

  • Language Arts - Read aloud Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
  • Language Arts - Discussed "vivid verbs" and onomatopoeia
  • Art - Illustrated an animal of Africa and did a watercolor wash in a style similar to Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
  • Geography - Identified the countries of Western Africa on a map
  • Music - Listened to numerous songs from West Africa from the Putumayo CDs we'd borrowed from our library (shown below).
  • Cooking - Prepared and enjoyed fried plantains
  • Created a mini-book to illustrate the variety of homes (reliance on natural materials)
  • Painted in a naïve style (example shown below)

Naïve Style Painting

Naive Style Painting

Naive Style Painting

Explore the Music of Africa

African Inspired Instruments - Inspire your kids with instruments from around the world

Activities for Week Four

  • Created an animal mosaic
  • Read aloud "Bimwilli and the Zimwi" by Verna Aardema (a tale from Zanibar) and "Mama Panya's Pancakes" by Mary and Richard Chamberlin
  • Read aloud "Savannahs" by Precious McKenzie; "Living in the African Savannah" by Nicola Barber, and "Count Your Way Through Kenya" by James Haskins, Kathleen Benson and Lyne Leveque
  • Created an ABC Book of Africa for our lapbooks
  • Beaded necklaces and bracelets in the Maasi style using beads handmade by African women
  • Cooking :: Sweet Red Beans and Sesame Cookies

African Folktales & Literature

  • African Folk Tales
    Deep in the Bush, Where People Rarely Ever Go - A collection of African folk tales compiled by Philip Martin

Great Books About Africa for Children

Traveling to Africa


Week 5 :: Southern Africa


This week, we traveled south and were introduced to Nelson Mandela.

Activities for Week 5

  • Cooking :: Millet Patties
  • Read Aloud "Count Your Way Through South Africa" by
  • Put together lapbooks using the mini-books we had made along the way
  • Shared our country reports we had worked on throughout the summer

More Great Africa Resources

  • The Beaded Gourd - Its History, Construction and Technique
    The shekere is a handmade rattle. It consists of a hollow gourd or calabash, covered on the outside with a net of seeds, beads, shells, or any available material. Although its origins are West African, today it is found in the Americas and Caribbean
  • Africa Activity Packs - Wow, so many!!
    These Free Printable Activity Books are suitable for pre-K3 children (age 3 yrs to 7 yrs ), but can be adapted for younger or older children. Every section in this site has free printables and activity books in addition to these on this page. Enjoy

I hope you've enjoyed our journey through Africa, please leave a note and let me know how I might be able to improve this lens. If you have suggestions for links I should include, please direct me to them.

How Was Your Journey?

Eva Varga (author) from Oregon on June 17, 2015:

Thank you! Let me know how you like the recipe! :)

Schoolmom24 from Oregon on May 19, 2015:

Found this while searching for ideas for my own kids to learn about Africa...(I also am an occasional writer here on Hubs) My youngest daughter's friend actually moved to South Africa this past year (they will be coming back soon). We're just going to briefly touch on learning about the continent. I'm each of my girls (they're older- Jr High and High School) pick a country and research it. Great job with this hub...I especially like the national recipe for Algeria- I'm going to suggest my oldest make it since that's the country she picked! :)

Shannon from Florida on May 30, 2014:

What a great lens! You've done some great activities with your children! Thank you for sharing!

Eva Varga (author) from Oregon on March 04, 2014:

@deanna-furrey-7: I'm so glad that my lens was useful. :) We've never been ourselves. Someday.

deanna-furrey-7 on March 03, 2014:

This is Awesome! Our family loves Africa and we want to visit Uganda. We have some very good friends who are from there.

Eva Varga (author) from Oregon on February 18, 2014:

@athomemomblog: Thank you so much! It was certainly a fun unit - one we still talk about today. :)

Genesis Davies from Guatemala on February 16, 2014:

What an awesome unit study! I am definitely going to have to do this with my kids, as they are fascinated by Africa. Featuring your lens on my Happy Homeschooler Facebook page this week!

Eva Varga (author) from Oregon on October 10, 2013:

@anonymous: Thank you so much! It was certainly a fun unit to teach. I hope to create more geography lenses soon. :)

anonymous on September 02, 2013:

This unit is so good! I am a fourth grade teacher and look for ways to enrich the curriculum at our school. I was interested in having my students read books about Africa. This is a great unit to pair with the books.

Eva Varga (author) from Oregon on August 19, 2013:

@anonymous: You are so welcome! I am happy that you found my lens useful. It was a fun unit to teach. :)

anonymous on August 16, 2013:

This message may too late for you to view it, but I wanted to tell how awesome it looks. I was surfing around trying to find some fun lesson plans for this school year and find this. We will be studying Africa and honestly I didn't know where to begin. I have never lapbooked before, but plan to attempt it this year, so I will be surfing around to find some ideas. Thanks again!

Eva Varga (author) from Oregon on March 20, 2013:

@LouisaDembul: Thank you! I have never been to Africa personally. I look forward to the experience someday. :)

LouisaDembul on March 14, 2013:

We just moved back to Europe after living a few years in Africa. But knowing one country is not the same as learning about the whole continent. Very nice project!

Eva Varga (author) from Oregon on January 09, 2013:

@askformore lm: I haven't yet had the opportunity to see Africa for myself. Perhaps someday ... :)

askformore lm on December 20, 2012:

Many decades ago I lived for several years in East Africa - I loved it! - As I love your lens.

Eva Varga (author) from Oregon on October 23, 2012:

@anonymous: Hi Diane ~ It's been so long since I've seen you. I would love to see pictures of your families trip to Tanzania .. it sounds amazing. The unit I taught was quite some time ago ... I can email you the outline/plan I had put together. I am not sure I can find all the lapbook resources I had used.

I have one that was published by

but I can't seem to find the direct link.

Other mini books I found at

A few were printed from the book, Africa

I hope this helps,


anonymous on October 21, 2012:

Hi Eva, I have a question for you about your Africa unit. What lapbook and pages did you put together for this unit? I would love to see more details about that. I am putting together an African unit. We traveled to Tanzania as a family this summer which was amazing! Thanks, Diane

HOPEHomeSchoolConsulting on June 26, 2012:

Fabulous lens! Thanks for sharing.

Eva Varga (author) from Oregon on March 20, 2012:

@iijuan12: Thank you so much! I am continually amazed at how the internet can bring like-minded people together. I look forward to exploring your lenses. :)

Shannon from Florida on March 18, 2012:

I am so happy I have come across your lessons! We homeschool in a similar manner. You have great ideas! We did a 4 week unit on Africa at the beginning of this school year. I'm featuring your unit study on my lens at . Blessed and liked.

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on February 18, 2012:

Thanks for the tour of Africa! Which culture was your favorite?

Squid Angel Blessed!

anonymous on February 08, 2011:

Lovely Lens with inspiring ideas for homeschoolers, to arouse their curiosity of all things African. I've been to SA and Malawi; hope to one day return and see a lot more (game parks too). Faved. rolled, & FBd.

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