Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Favorite Resources for Learning About Africa

We are studying Africa this year, and loving it! Here are a few of my favorite resources... 
Wonderful Books

A really neat book recommended from SCM (Simply Charlotte Mason) is Material World by Peter Menzel. It's a unique project from a talented photographer who traveled the world to put a face on the human condition from all around the planet. He features a statistically average family from a variety of countries all over the world, and includes large portraits of their family, home life, and all their material possessions. (See in the photo below the entirety of this family's earthly possessions.) It's eye-opening to see just how much and how little people have from different parts of the world, and interesting to get a glance into their daily life. We'll be using this book for the African families it features this year, and families from other countries in our geography studies in the years to come.

Similar to Material World, but focusing on what people eat around the world rather than their material posessions, is the SCM-recommended book, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel. In this one, the same photographer features 30 families from countries around the world, and showcases exactly what food that family eats within a week, what it costs, and how they get it. It includes a portrait of each family surrounded by one week's worth of groceries (like in the photo below) as well as showing them at home and at market. I'd highly recommend both of these two books to supplement any geography study!

Recommended in both the Discover Africa Notebooking Packet and SCM's history/geography curriculum is the book Ashanti to Zulu, African Traditions by Margaret Musgrove. It's a Caldecott-winning picture book loaded with details highlighting an African tribe for every letter in the alphabet. (Did you even know there is a a tribe for every letter?? I didn't.) It's a nice way of learning about the daily life, clothing, towns and villages, animals, culture and customs from all over Africa. I'd recommend this book for anyone studying Africa.

I found a neat picture book for younger children called Africa is Not a Country, which has a two-page spread for 25 of the African countries, highlighting what every-day life looks like for the children of that country. It illustrates what type of clothing they wear, food they eat, how they play, their schooling, and families. Although it would have been handy if they'd listed each country by name with its page number for reference, I went through the book on my own and noted each country and page number so I can flip right to it as we study each country.  (Here's my list of countries & page numbers, if you want it.)

A few other picture books we're using (which came from the SCM list) are:

One more book I considered is Letters from Egypt by Mary Whatley, edited by Sonya Shafer, published by SCM - This is the only book we didn't get from SCM's recommendations simply because I think it's above my son's level for now. We'll get it next time we study Africa, when he's older. 

In a previous post I shared with you my free, downloadable passport that I made to print out for the kids to document which countries they "travel to" in their geography studies. 

I wrote in the African countries with a highlighter. As we "visit" each country, my son traces to write the country name, then we stamp it with our date stamp! He LOVES his passport, and wants to use it to gain entrance to our schoolroom every day.

We love the game, 10 Days in Africa, which is an easy, fun way to review African geography by PLAYING (not drilling). My only disclaimer is that a couple tiny countries were left off the map to simplify the game, but their outlines are still there. This has been a fun way for us to review the location of most all the African countries. 

For some simple African games for both individuals and larger groups, check out Juba This & Juba That, 100 African Games for Children by Dr. Darlene Powell Hopson, Dr. Derek S. Hopson, and Thomas Calvin. Amazon lets you preview the first few pages so you can see if this is something you'd be interested in using.

For some easy projects to add to your Africa study, consider the book Traditional Crafts from Africa by Florence Temko. I found it at our library.  

I found this fabulous downloadable "Discover Africa Notebooking Packet" which is a $15 downloadable file that includes everything you need to notebook about EVERY country in Africa! It has a note booking page, flag, map, info, pictures of people, etc. for every single country. It even has a "mostly filled out" version as well as a "blank version" to choose from for younger and older students. You can read more about it at the link. 

Geography Curriculum
For learning countries, we are using Visualize World Geography, which is really unique program that utilizes pictography to help you mentally map and memorize all the countries in the world.  I intend to review this in its own post at the end of the year. 

*For anyone who may be using Visualize World Geography AND Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis-Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt, I made my own 35-lesson African Geography schedule to substitute in place of CM's "Visits to Africa." My schedule incorporates the 20 Africa lessons from Visualize, a few review days, a few game days, and SCM's living books (Recommended Reading for Grades 1-3 or Family). Click HERE to download my African Geography Schedule.  

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