Lesson Plan

Africa: Its People and Places

Students will "travel" to Africa to learn about its climate, languages, customs,and history.
Amber E.
Classroom teacher
Estherville Lincoln Central Middle School
Estherville, IA
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My Grades 7
My Subjects Social Studies

Students will be able to...

Understand the use of geographic tools to locate and analyze the information about people, places and environments.

Understand how geographic and human characteristics create culture and define regions.

Understand how human factors and the distribution of resources affect the development of society and the movement of populations.

Understand how physical processes and juman actions modify the environment and how the environment affects humans.

Social Studies
Grades 7
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Planning

Tell your students that you and they are going to plan a pretend class trip to an area in Africa. Depending on how far you've gone in your study of the continent, give students the chance to vote, from among the following locales, on the one area in Africa they would most like to visit:

The banks of the Nile River, somewhere along its length from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea
The grasslands, inhabited by elephants, zebras, antelopes, lions, and cheetahs
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
The Sahara Desert
Areas of Kenya or Gabon on the equator

Ask the students to help you list all the kinds of arrangements that they must make before leaving home if they want to have a successful and satisfying trip to this one area of Africa. The goal is to encourage students to realize that they must consider at least the following issues:

Itinerary and packing
Language and customs

Once the preceding—and possibly other—topics are listed, let students volunteer for or assign them to committees that will focus on each topic.

For this lesson, you will need:

• Information about how to contact embassies and consulates of African nations
• Print and online reference materials about different regions of Africa
• Computer with Internet access

Student Instructions


Africa: Country-Specific Pages 
Locate separate pages for almost every African country here. The site leads to maps and other important information.

National Parks in Kenya 
No flight over the equator and the surrounding vicinity would be complete without a tour of Kenya's national parks.

Exhibit Of Artifacts 
Shows not-so-well-known examples of Egyptian artifacts. The pictures, along with descriptions, show statues from the Old and New Kingdoms, a loaf of bread, a model granary and a mummy.

Color Tour Of Egypt 
Excellent graphics with descriptions of some of the better known historical sites associated with ancient Egypt.

Rosetta Stone 
This is a delightful quiz for students, studying ancient Egypt, to use as a very simple self-assessment tool.

Basin Irrigation In Egypt 
Provides info on artificial irrigation 

This is the official web site of the Tanzanian Tourist Board. It features information about the Serengeti and the other beautiful national parks of Tanzania.


A is for Africa
Ifeoma Onyefula, Cobblehill Books, 1993.
This Nigerian author's book of words and pictures shows us the many faces and worlds of African people.

Africa (Eyewitness Books)
Yvonne Ayo, Dorling Kindersley Books, 1995.
Beautiful illustrations and brief descriptions describe life in Africa. Read about the social life and customs, history, clothes, myths, medicine, houses, musical instruments, and food of Africa.

Yvonne Ayo. Photographed by Ray Moller and Geoff Dann. New York: Knopf, 1995.
Learn about the geography of this vast continent and its people. Did you know that this huge continent is a land of deserts, savannas, mountains, waterfalls, and forests?

Colm Regan. Austin, Texas: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1997.
Study the countries of Africa and learn their geography, their history, resources, environment, and about the people.

2 Brainstorming/Research

3. While students work in small groups, you may use the time to locate someone in the school community who has actually traveled to the part of Africa under investigation. If you can find such a person, invite him or her to share stories and photos or videos with your students after they have done their own research, as outlined in the next step.
4. Each committee of students should then brainstorm specific questions needing answers before the trip begins. Each committee should select one or more students to do research on each question. Discuss with students what resources they can use to find answers: travel agents, books and magazines for tourists, Web sites, the embassy or consulate of the country or countries being visited.

Student Instructions

Here are sample questions each committee might decide to consider:

How will the class travel from home to this part of Africa?
How far away is this part of Africa, and how long will it take to get there?
How will the class get around once in this part of Africa?
How much will transportation cost?
What documents will students need to leave the United States, enter an African country, and then return to the United States?


What kinds of accommodations are available—hotels? campgrounds? people's homes? youth hostels?
How much will accommodations cost?
How can the students make reservations?


What sights do students want to see in this area?
How many days or weeks will students need to see these sights?
What kinds of clothes should students pack, given the African climate and what they plan to do there?
Besides clothes, what else should students pack?


In order to be goodwill ambassadors for the United States, what should student visitors know about the African people they are going to visit? That is, do the people who live in this part of Africa have customs that visitors should know about in advance?
Do the students have any customs that might surprise or offend the Africans? What can the students do to make sure they don't upset or annoy their hosts?
What should students know about their hosts' languages, foods, and religions before traveling to this part of Africa?


3 Presentation

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The students on each committee should discuss among themselves what they learned from their research. The students should work together to plan a brief oral presentation of their findings and their recommendations. They should write up notes and select visual aids if possible. One student might act as spokesperson to present the notes and visual aids to the rest of the class. Make sure the spokesperson has an opportunity to practice by doing at least one dry run and getting feedback from the other students on the committee.

 Give each spokesperson a chance to make a brief oral presentation. The audience should have an opportunity to ask questions of the spokesperson and the other members of his or her committee.


Student Instructions

Each committee will be evaluated by using the following three-point rubric:

Three points: clearly organized and articulately presented substantive answers to committee's questions; well-explained visual aids; coherent, error-free thank-you note to class guest
Two points: adequately organized and presented substantive answers to committee's questions; visual aids not totally connected to oral presentation; coherent thank-you note, with minimal errors, to class guest
One point: poorly organized and inarticulate, incomplete oral answers to committee's questions; missing or poorly explained visual aids; thank-you note lacking coherence and containing many errors

4 Assessment

Activity: Assessing

1. If you could visit a part of Africa, would you choose a river like the Nile River, a mountain like Mt. Kilimanjaro, or the grasslands where the large animals live? Have the class list the positive and negative reasons for visiting these areas. Divide the class into three groups and have each group take an area. Have a discussion allowing each group to convince the others to visit its area.

2. Modern technology and the growth of cities have affected the life of many tribes in Africa. Explain how the tribes have been affected, what adaptations they are making, and how their lifestyle may be forced to change due to the increase in cities and decrease in open areas.

3. Pretend you are going to build your home along the Nile River. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living there.

5 Extension

Activity: Investigating

Places in Africa with Distinction
In your study of Africa, you will no doubt cover distinctive, or special, geographical features of the continent—such as the Great Rift Valley. Just as parts of Africa have distinctive geographical features, so do the places where you and your students live. Elicit from students what features are distinctive in their region. Is there a special body of water? A special park? Special plants or animals? Make a list of what your class considers distinctive about your region, and help the class to create, for a hall or class display, a mural of the places and things mentioned.