Chapter Eleven: Activities for Ancient Africa

Chapter 11

Ancient Africa

UBWH 82, UILE 172-173
KIHOW 58-59, KHE 30-31

Review Questions, Ancient Peoples of West Africa

What do we call a large piece of land with many countries on it? A continent
What continent is Egypt in? Africa
What is the name of the big desert in western Africa? The Sahara Desert
Was this part of Egypt always a desert? No, once it was a green place with trees, grass, and water.
What did archaeologists find when they dug down into the desert sand. Fossilized pollen, seeds, bones, turtle shells
Where did the people of ancient Africa go when the land began to dry up. South OR Down into the lower part of Africa

Narration Exercise, Ancient Peoples of West Africa

“Africa is a continent. It has a big desert in it called the Sahara Desert. The desert used to be a good place to live, but when it got dry people moved away.”
“The Sahara Desert used to be green. Archaeologists found seeds and pollen in it. The people who lived there did cave paintings. Then it dried up.”

Review Questions, Anansi and Turtle

What does a yam taste a little bit like? A sweet potato
Did Anansi want to share his meal with Turtle? No, he didn’t!
Did Turtle ever get any food? No
When Anansi went to Turtle’s house, where was Turtle’s supper table? At the bottom of the river
How did Anansi manage to get down to the bottom of the river? He filled his pockets with rocks.
What did Turtle tell Anansi to do before eating? Take off his jacket.
What happened when Anansi took his jacket off? He floated up to the top of the water.

Narration Exercise, Anansi and Turtle

“Anansi was a spider. He was eating and Turtle came along. Anansi didn’t want to share, so he made Turtle keep washing until all the food was gone. Then Anansi went to visit Turtle. Turtle was eating at the bottom of the river. Anansi put rocks in his pockets so he would be heavy. But Turtle told him to take his coat off and he floated back up.”
“Turtle came to see Anansi, but Anansi wouldn’t share his food with him. So then Anansi went to visit Turtle. Turtle wouldn’t share with Anansi either. Turtle tricked Anansi just like Anansi tricked Turtle!”

Review Questions, Anansi and the Make-Believe Food

Why were the people of Anansi’s visit hungry? There was a drought, or There hadn’t been any rain for a long time.
What is the name of the African vegetable that is a little bit like a potato? Cassava
What African vegetable is like a banana? A plantain
What three kinds of food did Anansi find? Cassava, plantains, and rice.
Did he really find villages full of food? No, he was dreaming.
Why didn’t Anansi stop and eat in any of the villages? He kept seeing something better off in the distance!

Narration Exercise, Anansi and the Make-Believe Food

“There wasn’t any food, so Anansi went to find some. He came to a village full of cassava, but then he saw another village so he left. Then he found plantains, but he saw another village so he left. Then he found rice, but he saw another village so he left. Then he woke up. He was back home and he didn’t have any food at all.”
“There was a drought in Africa. Anansi went to find food. He found lots of food, but he kept thinking that he would find something better. So he didn’t eat any of it. Then he woke up and found out it was all a dream. He should have eaten the food when he found it!”

Additional Reading

Great African Kingdoms, by Sean Sheeha (Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1999), This book gives a great overview of the first kingdoms of Africa and their way of live. A timeline and glossary are also included. (RA)

Look Who Lives in: The Desert, by Alan Baker (Peter Bedrick Books, 1999). Large illustrations and easy text makes it fun to learn about some of the animals that live in the desert. (RA)

Animals of the Desert, by Steven Savage (Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1997). This book includes a map of the deserts of the world, a description of what a desert is, and pictures and text about animals that spend their lives living in the desert.

Corresponding Literature Suggestions

Misoso: Once Upon a Time Tales from Africa, by Verna Aardema (Knopf, 1994). Twelve African tales from Angola to Zanzibar, beautifully and vibrantly illustrated. A map of Africa detailing the origin of each story, notes on each tale, and a glossary are included in this wonderful read-aloud book. (RA)

Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti, by Gerald McDermott (Scholastic, 1993). Mischievous Anansi and his six brave sons help place the moon in the sky. This book won a Caldecott Honor Award. (Possibly IR) [independent read]

Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa, by Gerald McDermott (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992). Zomo the rabbit, an African trickster, sets out to gain wisdom. This tale originated in Nigeria. The pictures are very bright, colorful and enticing, adding to the excitement of the story. (Possibly IR)

Too Much Talk, by Angela Shelf Medearis (Candlewick Press, 1995). A retelling of a traditional Ghanaian tale about a king who refuses to believe that yams, fish, and cloth can talk until his throne agrees with him. The illustrations are warm and reflective of the West African origins of the story. Silly, and great fun to read aloud. (RA)

Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper: A Maasai Tale (Oxford University Press, 1991). An East African tale. All the animals are frightened by the horrible-sounding monster who has taken over the hare’s cave. Finally, a clever frog solves the problem. (RA)

Map Work

1. Put your finger between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
2. Move your finger to the right, to the edge of the map. Put an S in the location of Sumer, a B in the area of Babylon and an A in the location of Assyria after you have crossed those areas with your finger. You can find these on the maps you’ve done for previous chapters if you need a reminder.
3. When you reach the edge of the map, draw an arrow in the direction you’ve been moving your finger. Write China above the arrow and India below the arrow. This note tells you that India and China are further in that direction.
4. Now, draw a crescent starting at the base of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, curving up to the Mediterranean Sea, and down, around, the Nile River. Do you remember what this area is called? Label it.
5. Put your finger in the fertile crescent. If you trace it with your finger, you can travel from Mesopotamia to Egypt, which surrounds the northern section of the Nile River. Mark the area of Mesopotamia with an M. Circle the label on the map which identifies Egypt.
6. If you keep moving your finger down the Nile River, out of Egypt, you will notice that these locations are small compared to the size of the landmass, or continent, of which they are a part. In the center of this continent, write AFRICA in capital letters: that is the name of this continent.
7. Now, put your finger back on the Nile River, in the area of Egypt. Move your finger to the left. This area is the Sahara Desert. Shade in the area of this vast desert with a sandy colored pencil, crayon or marker. To remind yourself that this location used to be full of trees and water, draw a tree in the midst of the desert.


Coloring Page

Using your colored pencils, crayons or markers, color the picture of Anansi being tricked by Turtle.



Craft Project: Make an African (Paper Bead) Necklace

colored paper (magazine pages, construction paper, wallpaper samples)
glue stick
1. Cut several triangles out of the colored paper. The width of the base should be between one and two inches, and the height should be around four to six inches. The wider the base, the easier it is to work with.
2. Starting with the base of the triangle, roll the paper around the pencil. Put some glue on the point of the triangle and press down firmly.
3. Remove the bead from the pencil and continue making beads until there is enough to thread onto the necklace.
4. Cut a length of string (long enough to easily fit over child’s head when completed). Tie a large knot at one end of the string. Thread the beads onto the necklace. Tie the ends together when the necklace is complete.

Craft Project: Make Anansi the Spider

1 – 1 inch styrofoam ball
1 – 2 inch styrofoam ball
googly eyes
pipe cleaners
1. Paint (with brush or spray paint) both styrofoam balls. Let them dry.
2. Attach the smaller ball (head) to the larger ball (body) using part of a toothpick and/or glue.
3. Cut the pipe cleaners into eight appropriate lengths. Attach four per side to the body of the spider and shape them to look like legs.
4. Glue on the eyes and draw or paint a mouth.

Activity Project: Painted Hands
Note: Many African peoples painted their hands, feet and other body parts, usually with geometric designs, on special occasions.

construction paper
paint and brush
1. Have an adult or older sibling trace your hands and feet onto the paper. For more fun, ask if you can trace their hands, too.
2. Paint a geometric pattern onto the hands and feet. Let them dry.
3. Decorate your walls, door or dresser with these hands (ask an adult first!) or you could hang them in a mobile. See Chapter 6 for directions on making a mobile.

Activity Project: Make Your Own Henna Hands

paint brush
1. Using a thick mixture of henna and water, paint designs on your hands. Let it dry then peel it off.
2. Keep your hands dry for about one hour afterward.

Family Project: African Feast

1. Choose which recipes you would like to include in your feast. Feel free to search for other recipes in a cookbook, or on the internet, to include as well.
2. Follow the directions to prepare the food. An adult should be present to supervise and assist when necessary, for safety reasons.
3. For a festive touch, decorate your hands (see Henna Hands, above) and make some musical instruments to celebrate with. Instructions for a variety of instruments are included below.
4. Have fun!!!

Chicken with Figs
3-4 pounds chicken legs
1 lemon
¼ Cup brown sugar
¼ Cup vinegar
¼ Cup water
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
8-16 ounces dried figs
salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Peel and slice the lemon. Place lemon slices and figs in the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Add the chicken legs.
3. In mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, water, and lemon juice.
4. Pour mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle chicken with salt and parsley.
5. Bake, covered with foil, for about 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes longer or until chicken begins to brown. Baste frequently during the last 20-30 minutes. Remove chicken, figs, and lemon slices and place on a serving tray.
6. Skim off any fat and use the remaining juices as a sauce for the chicken.

Papaya Stir Fried Rice
1 can chopped papaya, reserve the juice
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp olive oil (can substitute water)
salt to taste
instant rice (4-6 servings)
1. Prepare the rice as directed on the package, substituting the papaya juice for an equal amount of water.
2. While the rice is being prepared, combine the papaya, red pepper, onion, parsley and salt in a medium sized bowl.
3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the papaya mixture and stir fry till onions are tender.
4. Add the cooked rice to the papaya mixture, and stir fry an additional 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Fried Plantains
¼ Cup cooking oil
1 plantain
1. Preheat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
2. Cut the plantain into rounds, a bit thicker than ¼ inch.
3. Very carefully, fry the pieces till the edges are very lightly golden brown. Flip them over, and fry the other side. As a guideline, one minute per side should be sufficient. Don’t let them get too dark.
4. Remove excess oil with a paper towel. Serve immediately. Add salt and/or garlic to taste.

Date and Banana Bars
¼ Cup margarine
¾ Cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 med. bananas
1 Cup flour
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ Cup chopped dates
Optional: ¼ Cup almonds
2 Tbsp margarine
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla
¾ Cup powdered sugar
1. Cream together the margarine and sugar.
2. Add the egg and vanilla.
3. Stir in the bananas and dry ingredients.
4. Add the dates and almonds.
5. Bake in an 8×8 pan at 350° for about 30 minutes or until edges are turning brown.

Family Project: Have an Evening of African Music

Make a Drum
rubber band
margarine tub
1. Stretch the balloon across the open end of the margarine tub. Secure with the rubber band.
2. Use various items to bang your drum.

Make Rustler Shaker Bells
several metal bottle lids
1. With the nail, have an adult punch a hole into each metal lid.
2. Tie a short piece of string to each lid, through the hole.
3. Bunch all the strings together and tie with a knot.
4. Make some music by shaking these rustling bells.

Make a One-Stringed Plucker
facial tissue box
rubber band
1. Wrap the rubber band around the tissue box, so it goes over the opening in the top.
2. Decorate. Pluck your one-stringed plucker. For variety, add more rubber bands of different widths.

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