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East and South Africa Lesson


I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.


This is part 4 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Africa. Enjoy an Ethiopian-style feast, create Zulu shields, make Masai necklaces and attempt Masai-style spear throwing, and more! My lessons are geared toward 4th-5th grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons I created to do with a weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 33 children between the ages of 1-13. Use these fun lessons with your class, family, or homeschool co-op group!

Rembrandt, The Baptism of the Eunuch, c. 1626

Rembrandt, The Baptism of the Eunuch, c. 1626

Devotional, Review, and Map Work

1. Pray. Read & discuss Acts 8:26-39. Say something such as: Why do you think we read this Bible passage today? Yes, it has to do with how to Gospel spread to Ethiopia in East Africa. Philip is such an exciting example as an obedient follower of Jesus! Sometimes when you have the courage to share the Good News about Jesus with someone, that person says “I have wanted to know how to be saved but no one has told me how.” This happened with Philip because he obeyed God immediately when God told him to go. He met an Ethiopian man. This Ethiopian man wasn’t just anyone. This man had an important job working for Queen Candace in Ethiopia. As he was traveling back to Ethiopia, he brought along some good “books” (really scrolls) to read just like you probably do when your family I taking a long trip. What he was reading confused him, though. He was reading a prophecy about Jesus from Isaiah 53. Because Philip had studied God’s word, he was able to explain the passage to the Ethiopian eunuch, who then became a Christian and was baptized. This Ethiopian man’s life was changed forever because he now understood what God had written in Isaiah about Jesus. He believed in the Lord Jesus and his sins were forgiven. To show that he truly believed in Jesus, he was immediately baptized. Because Philip was immediately obedient to God’s instructions, the entire country of Ethiopia was probably able to hear about Jesus through this servant to the Queen of Ethiopia. Even to this day there are many Christian believers in Ethiopia. We have no idea how many people’s lives would be changed in this country because of his faith in Jesus. Philip’s example teaches us the importance for us to study and know God’s word and to obey His voice immediately. We do not know how God is working in the lives of those around us, and we don’t know how many lives will be affected when we choose to obey God.

2. Have children take out maps/atlases and locate Africa. Tell them we will be focusing on East & South Africa today.

-Review the other parts of Africa.

-Look at East Africa/Rift Area on a map and ask the children to describe what they notice.

-Have children locate Kenya on a map. We will begin by focusing on Kenya.
YOU WILL NEED: children’s atlases/maps (brought by families)

***If you have 18 or more children, divide them into 2 groups and have them rotate between the 2 stations. If you have a smaller group, just follow the lesson in order.***


Station 1: Kenya Maasai Book & Tea

3a. Read a book about Kenya, “Masai and I” by Virginia Kroll. (Be sure to show the pictures on each page to all of the children as you read.)
YOU WILL NEED: book on Kenya such as “Masai and I” by Virginia Kroll

3b. (Prep: At the beginning of class, pour a sample-size amount of Lipton tea in 29 cups & a sample size of Kenyan tea in 33 cups (extras for parents to taste). Put them on the counter for children to pick them up.) In the Highlands of Kenya (NOT where the Maasai live), they grow tea. Be sure to emphasize that this takes place in Kenya, which is the country where the Maasai live, but it is other people groups (not Maasai) who grow and harvest tea. Briefly discuss how tea is made. Find information about the tea of Kenya at Taste Lipton tea and Kenyan tea. How do they taste different?
YOU WILL NEED: 62 small, disposable cups (like Dixie bathroom cups) & prepared Lipton tea (cooled but not sweetened) & Kenya tea

Book to Read for Activity 3a


Station 2: Kenya Maasai Herding Cattle

4a. Have children sit on the sidewalk. As you show them pictures from a book Shannon will bring, tell the children that Kenyan Maasai herd cattle. They build a thorn bush around their entire village to form a corral to protect their cattle. The men know by sight all their cattle. They can tell if one is missing at a glance, but they never count them because they think that will cause bad things to happen to them and their cattle. Give each child a handful (about 8-10) of rocks/pebbles and call it their “herd of cattle.” Let them look at their “herd” for a minute and then close their eyes. Remove a rock/pebble from each child’s “herd” and place them all in a line away from the children. (Try to keep a mental note of which rock/pebble goes with which child. Tell the children that while their eyes were closed, a member of their herd escaped. Let them see if they can identify their pebble from the other herders’ pebbles. (I was actually amazed that most of the children could identify their missing “cattle” rock.)
YOU WILL NEED: about 100+ rocks/pebbles that look similar but not identical (such as limestone rocks collected from a limestone road) (*If you can think of something else that would look similar but not identical, feel free to bring that instead.*) & book with pictures of Masai herders: “Mara-Serengeti” by Jonathan & Angela Scott or photos from the Internet

Book to Use for Activity 4a

Masai Spear Throwing Activity

Masai Spear Throwing Activity

Masai Spear Throwing

4b. Moran are fierce Maasai warriors who protect the tribe. They put red ocher on their hair & practice throwing their spears.

-Have each child select a long, straight stick to be their spear. Let’s practice throwing our “spears.” Who can throw his/her “spear” (stick) the farthest? The most accurately? Have the children put their “spears” back into a pile for the next group.

-Before they got out to hunt, the Moran Maasai stand in a circle and do a sort of jump dance. Maasai warriors will stand in a large circle with their spears and will hop up and down while singing. They usually have 2 people hop at a time. They try to jump as high as they can over and over again. While they jump, they never touch their heels to the ground. Have all the children stand in a circle with their and hop up and down. See who can jump up the highest. See who can jump for the longest period of time.
YOU WILL NEED: long, straight sticks (brought by families)


Kenya Masai Necklaces

***Have children come back together into 1 group.***

5. Kenyan Maasai shave their heads, wear orange or red cloth tied over their left shoulder, and wear many necklaces & earrings. (Show pictures from your computer or pictures in books.) Maasai like to wear many layers of beaded necklaces. We are going to make Maasai-inspired necklaces. Give each child a paper plate that has the middle cut out. Have them turn the paper plate over. Let children paste colored pasta in concentric circles around the bottom of the paper plate to look like multiple layers of beads like the necklaces shown at and . Some Maasai consider the colors to have a particular meaning. Red = danger, ferocity, bravery & strength. Blue = color of sky that gives water. White = color of milk is pure. Green = plentiful plants. Orange & yellow = hospitality like the color of gourds of milk offered to visitors or animal skins on a visitors bed. Black = color of people & symbolizes hardships of everyday life.
YOU WILL NEED: 36 full-size sturdy circular paper plates (It is important they are not flimsy, Styrofoam, or ovals.), various shapes of pasta (macaroni, shells, spiral, etc.) dyed various colors (here are directions if you need them: ): 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed red, 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed orange (red+yellow), 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed yellow, 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed green, 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed blue, books or photos from your laptop showing Maasai wearing their necklaces, and glue (brought by families)

Book to Use for Activity 5

pH Scale - This photo was taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class:

pH Scale - This photo was taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class:

Soda Lakes and pH Scale

6. (Prep: Ahead of time set out 9 disposable plates. Write “v” on 9 cups, “b” on 9 cups, “l” on 9 cups, “m” on 9 cups, “w” on 9 cups, & “s” on 9 cups. Fill the 9 sets of small, disposable cups with a small amount of each of the following liquids: “v” cups get vinegar, “b” cups get baking soda that has been mixed with water so it’s liquid, “l” cups get lemon juice, “m” cups get milk, “w” cups get water, and “s” cups get liquid soap. Place one of each of the types of cups on each plate so that each plate has all 6 different liquids on the plate. Place 6 pieces of litmus paper on each plate.) Use photos from your computer or phone to show pictures of the soda lakes in the Great Rift. Explain that alkaline or soda lakes are all that are left of the swamps & lakes that once covered the floor of the Great Rift. Introduce the pH scale, which determines how acidic or basic a soil or solution is. (Please do a bit of background reading if you’re not familiar with the pH scale.) Do mention that:

-The scale is from 1-14

-#1-6 are acids. Acids are known for tasting sour. Can anyone think of something that tastes sour?

-In the middle you have pure water with a pH of 7.

-Bases have a pH level of #8-14 and tend to feel soapy and slimy. Has anyone tasted soap? Bases tend to taste bitter.

-Aside from tasting liquids to find out if they’re a base or acid (which is definitely not a recommended way of determining this), you can also use litmus paper. Litmus paper turns blue in bases and red in acids.

-Divide children into groups of 3. Give each group a prepare plate with cups and litmus paper. Let them use the litmus paper to perform acid/base experiments using vinegar, baking soda/sodium bicarbonate (mixed with water), lemon juice, milk, water, and liquid soap. Have them do one liquid at a time all together with everyone else. Before the children put the slip of litmus paper into the liquid ask them if they think that liquid will be a base or acid. Have them raise their hands to vote.

-If you have time ask, “If bases neutralize acids and form salts, why do we put baking soda paste on insect stings?”

-(Read more about acids and bases at .)
YOU WILL NEED: 1 box of small disposable cups (like Dixie bathroom cups), 9 disposable plates, sharpie marker, about 1 cup of vinegar, baking soda, about 1 cup of lemon juice, about 1 cup of milk, liquid soap & litmus paper


Flamingos of the Soda Lakes

7. There are many birds that live across the Great Rift like flamingos, pelicans, & marabou. Flamingos are known for standing for long periods of time on one leg.

-Have children stand up behind their chairs. See who can stand on 1 leg for 1 minute without holding onto anything. Once children fall or have to grab something, have them sit back into their seats.

-After 1 minute, if multiple children are still standing on 1 leg, allow them to continue to stand as you read.

-Read most of “Mud City” by Brenda Z. Guiberson about flamingos. (This takes place in the Caribbean, but it still provides good information on flamingos.)
YOU WILL NEED: book on flamingos: “Mud City” by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Book to Use for Activity 7


African Savanna

8. Quickly discuss how Africa has deserts, rain forests/jungles, mountains, soda lakes, and savannas. These are called ecosystems. Have the children say, “Ecosystem.” In each of the ecosystems you will find different animals.

-Ask 5 or 6 volunteers to name an animal they think they would see if they went to Africa.

-Have 2 volunteers name an animal you would find in the deserts. (dromedary camels, scorpions, fennec foxes, horned vipers, etc.)

- Have 3-4 volunteers name one animal you would find in the rain forests/jungles of Central Africa. (gorillas, okapis, chimpanzees, leopards, forest elephants, etc.)

-Now we’re going to find out about the animals of the savanna, which covers much of East Africa. Point to the savanna on an atlas. This is the grassy flatland area that is home to most of the animals people think of when they think of African animals. Have 5 or 6 volunteers each name an animal they think lives in the African savanna. (rhinos, elephants, lions, zebras, wildebeests, elands, warthogs, ostriches, etc.)
YOU WILL NEED: large atlas


African Safari Game

9. (Optional - If you are not limited by time) Play the African Safari Game: Have children sit in a circle. Have each child select a different animal they would find on the savanna. Then have them come up with a sign the represent that animal. (Some examples might be flapping both hands behind their ears to show elephant ears, sticking a fist on your nose to represent a rhinoceros, pushing up on your neck to represent a giraffe, 2 straight arms in front of their mouth could represent a crocodile snout, etc. ONLY give examples if children can't come up with something on their own.) Each child will go around the circle and make their animal signal. After everyone has show a signal, select one child to begin the game. She or he will make her/his animal sign (elephant) and then the sign of another animal (zebra). The child who is the zebra will make their animal sign (zebra) & then the sign of another animal (ostrich). The person who is the ostrich will make their animal sign (ostrich) and then the sign of another animal (wart hog).

Zulu Shield Project - This photo was taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class.

Zulu Shield Project - This photo was taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class.

South Africa & Zulu Shields

10. Point out South Africa on the map and show pictures from your computer and/or a book. (Point to a diamond on your ring or on someone else’s ring.) Be sure to point out that many of the world’s diamonds come from South Africa.
YOU WILL NEED: atlas and book on South Africa or photos from your laptop

11. Teach children about the Zulu of South Africa:

-Explain the history of the Zulu people while flipping through the pages of "Shaka, King of the Zulus." At the end of the 1700′s the name Zulu belonged to a small clan of a few hundred people, living among numerous other clans. In 1816 Shaka the Sulu chief sought to unite the Zulu into one nation. The Zulu were a very feared group in South Africa. They were well known for being fierce in battle. According to some, they won every battle they fought until the British finally defeated them in 1879 and divided up their tribe. The Zulu are the main native people group who live in South Africa.

-Zulu warriors used very distinct looking shields. To make a Zulu shield, you would tie sticks together and cover them in cowhide, tying the cow hide to the sticks with leather strips. The shields would be almost as tall as the person holding it.

-We will each make a Zulu shield that looks like the Zule shields at . Have the children paint the paper to look like a cow hide. Paint “lashes” on the front. As they paint the shields, parents and/or older children can use yarn to tie 2 feathers to the top of the stick “pole.”
YOU WILL NEED: 2-3 rolls of clear packaging tape (or duck tape), yarn, about 60 colorful craft feathers, & items brought by families: white poster board paper cut in an oval shape, paint brushes, black & brown paint, long sticks, scissors, & old t-shirts

Book to Use for Activity 11

Ethiopian Feast - This photo was taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class.

Ethiopian Feast - This photo was taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class.

Prepare Ethiopian Feast Plates

12. Have children find Africa in their atlases.

-Tell them we learned about Kenya with the Masai and salt lakes of the Great Rift Valley earlier. Have them find Kenya.

-Then we learned about the Zulu of South Africa. Have them find South Africa.

-Now we are going to learn a bit about Ethiopia. Ask, “Who was from Ethiopia that we talk about earlier today?” (Eunuch during the devotional)

-Ethiopians claim that the Queen of Sheba who went to visit Solomon, David’s son, and was impressed by his wisdom, came from Ethiopia. According to some legends she became one of Solomon’s wives, so some Ethiopians claim to be related to King Solomon. We don’t have any record of that in the Bible, though.

-Ethiopia was a rich country for many years. They claim to have been the first country to introduce coffee to the world, and they still export coffee to many countries around the world. In the 1970’s a Marxists dictator took over the country and made it very poor. The government tried to kill all the Christians who lived there. Eventually the dictators were overthrown, but Ethiopia continues to be fairly poor. They do continue to have many Christians living there today.
YOU WILL NEED: atlas/maps (brought by families)

13. Enjoy an Ethiopian feast.

(*PREP: Get someone to help you. While the instructor is reading about flamingos, begin to prepare for the Ethiopian feast:

-Lay out 8 large plates (1 plate for each group of 4 children and 2 for parents). Lay one on injera (flat pancake) on the bottom of each plate. If you don’t have lots of injera, don’t lay one on the bottom of each plate. Roll up the remaining injera like crepes. Divide them equally among the plates, placing them in a spoke pattern.

- Between the injera “spokes” and on top of the flat injera that’s covering the plate, place an equal amount of lentils, cabbage mixture, and cottage cheese mixture on each plate.

-After you’ve finished dividing up the food, place an unfolded napkin over each plate to cover the food.

-Next, fill 2 bowls with water and a bit of hand soap. The bowls of water will be used for hand-washing. Lay a folded kitchen towel next to each bowl of water.

-For each child prepare a cup of water. Pour about 15 small cups of coffee. )

-Tell the children we are now going to have a feast in an Ethiopian manner. This is the way they would eat on special occasions, like at a wedding or for Christmas.

-Have children move their chairs so that are sitting on both sides of the tables. You should have about 13 sitting at 2 tables and 13 sitting at the other 2 tables.

-The 2 children with birthdays closest to today get to be the hosts. They will each sit at the head of a table. Those closest to sitting to him/her are his most honored guests.

-First the children will be offered water with which to wash their hands. Have a mom bring a bowl of water and another mom bring a towel to each table. Each pair of moms will go down the table starting with the host/hostess and then starting with the most honored guests (those seated closest to the host/hostess). The children will dip their hands in the water and then be offered the towel to dry off their hands.

-Ask, “Can you see one way in which the honored guests get special treatment?” After this, use hand-sanitizer on hands (not a traditional part of the feast).

-Next, they pray. Who will pray for us?

-Then have the moms bring out the trays of food (still covered with napkins). Whisper to the “hosts” to clap their hands. At the clap, remove the napkins from the food and place it on the tables.

-Explain that like many people in Africa, many Ethiopians eat their food communally (off the same plate) and don’t use utensils. Instead they use a bread called injera. They only eat with their right hand. Pinch off pieces of the food using pieces of the injera. Never let your fingers go into your mouth or actually touch your mouth.

-While children are eating, you can bring out cups of water. Again, start with the host/hostess and work your way down the table.

- Ethiopians do not really eat desserts. They rarely ever use sugar in their cooking, but they will sometimes use honey. An Ethiopian treat is injera wrapped around a slab of fresh honeycomb with young honeybee grubs still inside.
-Meals always end with a cup of coffee. Ethiopians claim coffee originated there. If children would like to taste a bit of coffee (and their parents are okay with that), they can have a cup of coffee.

YOU WILL NEED: 30 small, disposable cups (like Dixie bathroom cups) for water, 20 small Styrofoam cups for coffee, 2 large bowls for holding water, 2 kitchen towels, napkins, coffee (enough for 15 small cups. It can be prepared at the church. If you can bring Ethiopian coffee, that would be great, but any kind will be fine.), & items brought by others: 6 dinner-size disposable plates (brought by parent who brought them to make Masai necklaces), injera (prepared by Family 1), lentils (prepared by Family 2), cabbage (prepared by Family 3), cottage cheese mixture (prepared by Family 4)

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

1 hour 25 min

1 hour 40 min

15 Injera


  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups warm water


  1. Mix everything together to form a batter. Let set in large bowl, covered, an hour or longer, until batter rises and becomes stretchy. It can sit as long as 3-6 hours. When ready, stir batter if liquid has settled on bottom. Then whip in blender, 2 cups of batter at a time, thinning it with 1/2 - 3/4 cup water. Batter will be quite thin.
  2. Cook in non-stick skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray over medium or medium-high heat. Make sure the pan is HOT before pouring batter in. Use 1/2 cup batter per injera for a 12-inch pan or 1/3 cup batter for a 10-inch pan. Pour batter in heated pan and quickly swirl pan to spread batter as thin as possible. Batter should be no thicker than 1/8-inch. Do not turn over. It is cooked through when bubbles appear all over the top. It is supposed to remain spongy on top, so you will not cook the top side.
  3. Lay each injera on a clean towel for a minute or two. Then stack with wax paper between each layer and refrigerate until ready to use. Finished injera will be thicker than a crepe, but thinner than a pancake.
  4. (This recipe came from
Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

50 min

1 hour


Ethiopian Lentils (Mesir Wat)

  • 4 coarsely chopped onions
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. peeled and minced gingerroot (or use 2 tsp. dried ginger)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs. red lentils or any other variety of lentils
  • 8 cups water (or stock)
  • salt & pepper


  1. Puree onion, garlic, and ginger in a food processor or blender. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add turmeric, paprika and cayenne pepper and stir rapidly, about 30 seconds. Add onion puree and saute on medium heat until excess moisture evaporates and onion loses its raw aroma, about 5 minutes. Do not burn. Add lentils and water. Bring to a boil and simmer till lentils are cooked through and fall apart, about 30-40 minutes. Add additional water if necessary to keep from drying out. This should be the consistency of a thick paste NOT soupy. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  2. (This recipe came from

Ethiopian Cabbage (Tikil Gomen)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 thinly sliced carrots (Shortcut hint: Use 1 lb. frozen carrot pieces OR buy cole slaw mix with carrots)
  • 1/2 head shredded cabbage (Shortcut hint: Use pre-shredded cabbage mix sold near the bagged lettuce)
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 5 peeled and cubed potatoes (Shortcut hit: Use pre-diced potatoes like Simply Potatoes)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the carrots and onion in the hot oil about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, and cabbage and cook another 15 to 20 minutes. Add the potatoes; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are soft, 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. (This recipe is from

Ethiopian Cottage Cheese and Yogurt (Lab)

  • 2 lbs. small-curd cottage cheese
  • 1/2 c. plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. grated lemon rind (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients. The mixture should be moist enough to spoon but dry enough to stay firm when served. Drain off excess liquid.
  2. (This recipe came from

A Few More Easy Ethiopian Recipes if You Need Them

Non-Spicy Ethiopian Beet Salad (Yeqey Sir Qiqqil)

1/2 onion, chopped

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil

2 cans of sliced beets, drained

Directions: Stack the sliced beets and cut the slices into 4-5 smaller pieces. In a separate bowl mix together the oil, lemon juice and onion. Add in the beets.

Ethiopian Lima Beans (Ful Medames)

1.5 - 2 cups of lima beans

3 cups water

2 large onions chopped

1 Tbsp. oil

1 clove garlic minced

1 Tbsp. curry powder

1/2 cabbage chopped (shortcut tip: Use bagged coleslaw mix)

1 tsp. salt

Directions: Crockpot version: Combine ingredients and let cook for 4 hours in crock-pot. Non-crock-pot version: Bring to a boil then simmer for about 4 hours, until the cabbage is dissolved and there is a thickness to it.

Non-Spicy White Beans (Fosolia)

3 (16 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 large onion, sliced thin

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F . In a 9 x 13 inch pan, mix all the ingredients. Bake for an hour.


14. Review what we learned today. Ask questions such as: In what country do the Maasai live? (Kenya…and Tanzania but we didn’t mention that) What can you tell me about the Maasai? (they herd cattle, can identify their cattle just by looks, wear lots of necklaces, hunt with spears, do a jumping dance before hunting, etc.) What grows in the highlands of Kenya…that people like to drink? (tea) Kenya also has many salt lakes in the Great Rift Valley. What is one bird that lives there? (flamingo) What can you tell me about flamingos? (stand on 1 leg, make mud nests, eat shrimp, etc.)We also learned about the pH scale with measures what? (acids & bases) If something is #1-6 on the pH scale, it will probably taste sour. Is it an acid or base? (acid) Name something that is an acid. (lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) Bases will have what numbers on the pH scale? (#8-14) How will they feel or taste? (bitter, soapy, slimy) Name a base (soap, milk, etc.) What is in the middle, ranked as having a pH of 7? (water) What type of paper doe we use to test if something is an acid or base? (litmus) We learned about ecosystems. Name an ecosystem we find in Africa. (desert, jungle/rainforest, savanna, etc.) Many of the animals people think of when they think of Africa, live in which type of ecosystem? (savanna) Next we learned about South Africa where most of the world’s what are found? (diamonds) Which group of greatly feared warriors lived in South Africa? (Zulu) Tell me something about the Zulu. (They had cow-hide shields, Shaka was their leader, they supposedly weren’t defeated until the British beat them in the late 1800’s, etc.) Then we learned about Ethiopia. What is Ethiopia’s main export? (coffee) Tell me something you learned about Ethiopia. (The Queen of Sheba was supposed from there, they eat with their hands, they eat using injera, they all wash their hands in the same bowl of water, etc.) What was your favorite activity from today?

More of Our Favorite Picture Books on Kenya

Mama Panya's Pancakes by Mary Chamberlin is a great book about a generous boy who invites over the whole village to enjoy his mother's pancakes. They each bring an item to share and have a feast. It does a goo job of introducing the market place in Kenya. Includes is a recipe for Mama Panya's Pancakes. Lila and the Secret of Rain by David Conway was our favorite after "Masai and I" that featured the Masai people. A young Masai girl sets out to find out how to get rain to fall on their village. For You Are a Kenyan Child by Kelly Cunnane is a really cute book describes what it is like to grow up in a Kenyan village. Fatuma's New Cloth by Leslie Bulion follows Fatuma and her mother's as they visit the modern market place of East Africa. Fatuma listens to the various merchants trying to convince her that their products will make her tea the best. She learns not to be fooled by promises but to look at the character of the person. Included is a note about chai tea, kanga cloth, and Swahili proverbs. It also has a recipe for East African chai tea. Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter is about a woman who started planting trees across Kenya.

Our Favorite Books on the African Savanna

Tree of Life: The World of the African Baobab (Tree Tales) by Barbara Bash introduces many of the animals of the African savanna as they come together around a baobab tree. We used this book to show pictures of the animals in their native habitat (as opposed to at a zoo). Here Is the African Savanna by Madeleine Dunphy is written using "the house that Jack built" style as it introduces various animals of the savanna. It has beautiful illustrations! African Critters by Robert Haas is 96 page book of photographs is geared toward children. It has excellent photographs of many African animals and includes interesting information about each one.

Our Favorite Books on Savanna Animals

There are a bunch of great picture books on elephants! Grandma Elephant's in Charge (Read and Discover) by Martin Jenkins emphasizes the elephant social structure and also packs in bunch of zoological information about elephant characteristics and habitat. Kidogo by Anik McGrory and Elephant Crossing by Toshi Yoshida are also good picture books about African elephants. Roar!: A Noisy Counting Book by Pamela Duncan Edwards was enjoyed by all of my children (ages 1-9). It is a very simple picture book for young children that features some of the animals that can be found on the African Savanna. Starry Safari by Linda Ashman is also a great book for younger audiences. Chee-Lin: A Giraffe's Journey by James Rumford is a bit lengthy of a picture book but even my 5 year old enjoyed listening to the book about a giraffe that is transported from Africa to China in the 15th century. A Zebra's World by Caroline Arnold is a picture book that was enjoyed by all my children (ages 1-9) and includes zoological information about zebras. Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff is the true story about a hippo and tortoise who befriend each other in a zoo in Kenya. This has photographs rather than illustrations.

Our Favorite Books on South Africa

A South African Night by Rachel Isadora is part of a number of simple children's books on modern life in South Africa all written by the same author, Rachel Isadora. This is a cute story that compares the evening routine of a young child in Johannesburg and the animals in Kruger National Park. The Gift of the Sun: A Tale from South Africa by Dianne Stewart is a South African tale about a farmer who doesn't want to work so he keeps trading in animals and other items to make farming easier. It has cute illustrations. Jamela's Dress by Niki Daly is part of a series of cute picture books about Jamela, a fun-loving girl living in modern South Africa. This series does a good job at showing how the lives of children in South Africa are quite similar to the lives of children in the US. Bongani's Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a South African City (A Child's Day) by Gisele Wulfsohn has photographs rather than illustrations. It follows a typical boy in urban South Africa as he goes throughout the day.

Our Favorite Books on Ethiopia

A Saint and His Lion: The Story of Tekla of Ethiopia by Elaine Murray Stone tells the story of a crippled Ethiopian man from the 13th century who becomes a priest and sets out with his lion to spread Christianity to the people of Ethiopia. The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela: A Tale from Africa by Cristina Kessler is the Ethiopian tale of a girl who vows to become a beekeeper despite the fact that beekeeping is traditionally a man's job. Fire on the Mountain by Jane Kurtz is an Ethiopian folk tale with nice watercolor paintings of rural Ethiopia. The message isn't the greatest, but it does show some aspects of life in that country. "Young Alamayu's bravery goes unrewarded by a selfish rich man until the boy's clever sister puts things to rights." E Is for Ethiopia (World Alphabets) by Ashenafi Gudeta has photographs rather than illustrations but does a fabulous job of showing life in Ethiopia.

More of Our Favorite Children's Picture Books on East Africa

My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel takes place in TANZANIA. A boy works hard to save up his money so that he can buy a bicycle so that he can increase his business ventures. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba takes place in MALAWAI. The true story of a boy in an impoverished village who uses the ideas he gets by reading books sent from America to build a windmill from scraps he finds in the garbage dump. The windmill allows powers a light for the town (that had previously not had electric) and a water pump (to water the plants that had been previously been unable to grow due to a drought). All my children enjoyed this book. My Great Grandmother's Gourd by Cristina Kessler takes place in SOMALIA. This is a Muslim tale that does a good job of showing life in rural Somalia and the conflicts between old and new ways of life. A small village gets a water pump, but it breaks and the grandmother -- who had continued to follow the traditional methods of collecting water in the baobab tree-- is able to provide the village with water. Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book by Muriel Feelings is an alphabet book that has a Swahili word on each page starting with the corresponding letter. There is the English translation of the word & a short paragraph about the cultural meaning of the word.


Optional Homework: Lapbooks, Maps, & Missionary Reports

If you'd like to do more at home, you can create a lapbook or map or complete missionary reports.

Free Lapbooks:

Honey, Honey Lion (a picture book that takes place in Botswana)

Lapbook on Kenya

Meerkat Mail Lapbook (a picture book about Meerkats of the Kalahari Desert): Cut and paste the link:

Free Printable Map:

Map of Africa (*We glued fake diamond-looking jewels to this map near South Africa. We glued fake green grass to the savanna area and added a few small pictures of savanna animals near Kenya and Tanzania. Glue yellow sugar crystals where the Kalahari Desert is.)

Free Missionary Report Form:

After reading about David Livingstone and Rowland Bingham, complete this missionary report on both men.

Favorite Books (and Audio CD) on David Livingstone & Rowland Bingham

David Livingstone: Courageous Explorer (Heroes for Young Readers) by Renee Meloche is an excellent picture book about David Livingstone. All my children (ages 1-8) enjoyed this book. David Livingstone was an amazing explorer of South Africa who's main goal was to spread Christianity. This is a wonderful 32 page biography on him. Another good picture book that is a bit longer than the above picture book is David Livingstone by Ben Alex. David Livingstone: African Explorer (Sower Series) (Sower Series) by John Tiner is an action-packed chapter book that my older son enjoyed reading. Other good chapter book options are David Livingstone: Africa's Trailblazer by Janet Benge and Geoff Benge and David Livingstone (Chronicles of Faith) by Dan Larsen. Also look for Rowland Bingham: Into Africa's Interior (Christian Heroes: Then & Now) by Geoff Benge, which is a 181 page chapter book (also available as an audio CD) that is great if you have an older child. It is the inspiring story of the founder of the Sudan Interior Mission and countless other projects, who dedicated his life to spreading Christianity through the nation of Sudan in the late 1800's.

Clay Cartouche from Lesson 1 on North Africa

Clay Cartouche from Lesson 1 on North Africa


Dramatize the mummification process, carve clay cartouches, eat a Tuareg-style meal, act out an Ashanti tale, dramatize the historic gold and salt trades centered in Ghana, paint watercolor paintings of the animals of the Congo, make Nigerian-style tie-dye shirts, hunt like a Pygmy and act out the Pygmy Honey Dance, enjoy an Ethiopian-style feast, create Zulu shields, and more in this fun 4 part hands-on unit study on Africa!

  • North Africa Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Africa. This week's focus is North Africa. Dramatize the mummification process, carve clay cartouches, eat a Tuareg-style meal, make Moroccan Khobz, hold a Moroccan Berber fantasia and more!
  • Western Africa Lesson - This is part 2 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Africa. Act out an Ashanti tale, dramatize the historic gold and salt trades centered in Ghana, mold Ashanti gold weights out of clay, attempt to carry baskets and babies in the Ghanaian fashion, and more!
  • West and Central Africa Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Africa. Make watercolor paintings of the animals of the Congo, taste Nigerian chin chin, fufu, and Ground Nut Soup, make Nigerian-style tie-dye shirts, hunt like a Pygmy and act out the Pygmy Honey Dance, and more!
  • East and South Africa Lesson - This is part 4 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Africa. Enjoy an Ethiopian-style feast, create Zulu shields, make Masai necklaces and attempt Masai-style spear throwing, and more!
  • Africa Unit Presentations and Field Trip Ideas - For the culminating activity for our 4 part hands-on unit on Africa, make African dishes and present on famous people relevant to Africa. Also included is where we went for field trips during this unit.
  • Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies - Looking for all of my lessons and unit studies? Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at the above link.

Material List for This Lesson


- adult scissors (not children’s scissor’s) (per family)

- 1 atlas that includes the countries of Africa (preferably one that also include pictures of items, animals, etc.) or printed map that shows African countries (per 2 children)

- 2 long sticks (at least 24”) (the kind that come from trees) – the straighter the better

- Elmer’s liquid glue or tacky glue (glue sticks will NOT work)

- 1/2 a sheet of white poster board cut in an oval shape with your child’s name written on the back (To get an idea of the shape, look at the zulu shield pictures at )

- 1-2 paint brushes (larger than the kind that comes with a watercolor painting set)

- tempera/finger/posterboard paint in black and brown

- old t-shirt or smock to use while painting (optional)

-Prepared Ethiopian dish that was assigned to you: (Recipes are at the bottom of the lesson plan): Flat Bread/Injera, Lentils, Cabbage, Cottage Cheese and Yogurt, Chickpea Wat (optional), Beet Salad (optional), Lima Beans (optional), cooked Collard Greens [Gomen] (optional) & White Beans (optional)

- Any items you may have from East Africa or South Africa to show the children (Optional - bring only if you have this)


-62 small, disposable cups (like Dixie bathroom cups) & prepared Lipton tea (cooled but not sweetened) & Kenya tea

-about 100+ rocks/pebbles that look similar but not identical (such as limestone rocks collected from a limestone road) (*If you can think of something else that would look similar but not identical, feel free to bring that instead.*) & book or laptop with pictures of Masai herders (such as “Mara-Serengeti” by Jonathan & Angela Scott)

-36 full-size sturdy circular paper plates (It is important they are not flimsy, Styrofoam, or ovals.), various shapes of pasta (macaroni, shells, spiral, etc.) dyed various colors: 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed red, 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed orange (red+yellow), 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed yellow, 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed green, 1 lb. of small pasta that has been dyed blue

-1 box of small disposable cups (like Dixie bathroom cups), 9 disposable plates, sharpie marker, about 1 cup of vinegar, baking soda, about 1 cup of lemon juice, about 1 cup of milk, liquid soap & litmus paper

-book on flamingos: “Mud City”

-book on South Africa or photos from laptop

-2-3 rolls of clear packaging tape (or duck tape), yarn, & about 60 colorful craft feathers

-30 small, disposable cups (like Dixie bathroom cups) for water, 20 small Styrofoam cups for coffee, 2 large bowls for holding water, 2 kitchen towels, napkins, & coffee (preferably Ethiopian)

We watched part of this video on the Zulu

We watched part of this video on Ethiopia

We watched parts of each of these videos on Zimbabwe

Konos Volume II

Konos Volume II

Konos Curriculum

Would you like to teach this way every day?

Konos Curriculum

I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful curriculum and was created by moms with active boys!

Konos Home School Mentor

If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!

© 2011 Shannon

What first comes to mind when you think of East Africa? - Or just leave a note to let me know you dropped by. I LOVE hearing from you!

Shannon (author) from Florida on January 13, 2013:

@Rossouw Coetzee: Thank you!

Anonymous from Stellenbosch, South Africa on January 13, 2013:

Very nice page. i enjoyed it!

Shannon (author) from Florida on January 07, 2013:

@Aunt-Mollie: Ethiopians do have quite a number of beautiful crafts!

Aunt-Mollie on January 07, 2013:

The Ethiopian folk crafts are beautiful. I live in Israel and many of the Ethiopians from a lost tribe of Israel have returned and brought their crafts and traditions with them. They are a beautiful tribe among us.

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 17, 2012:

@donnetted: I try. Thank you so much!!!

Donnette Davis from South Africa on September 17, 2012:

One thing I have learned when visiting your pages, is that you cover EVERYTHING related to the topic you are writing about. Congratulations on a beautifully presented and comprehensive lens. Blessed x

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