Grade: Elementary
Subject: Geography

#1586. Characteristics of Africa

Geography, level: Elementary
Posted Tue Nov 7 07:54:05 PST 2000 by Emily Shreckengost (
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA
Materials Required: see lesson body
Activity Time: Instructional time 50 minutes
Concepts Taught: The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the students to the continent of Africa.


1. TLW describe basic land features and characteristics that make up the continent of Africa, and the shape of the continent.

2. TLW describe the people of Africa rica, where they live, and how they live.

3. TLW know what it is like to live in Africa.


* map of Africa

*drawing paper

*colored pencils and crayons

* sample model of an African home

*handout with two paragraphs describing the people and where they live

*dirt, small sticks, rocks, grass

*oatmmeal boxes for the homes

*collection of material and resources on Africa

*writing paper

*construction of material and resources on Africa


*paint; earthone brown, and green

Hamilton, R. (1996). African Activity Book. Dana Point, CA: Edupress


*Africa is a continent divided into many countries.

*The basic land features and characteristics of Africa are different from North America.

*The people of Africa live in different types of homes.


A. Introduction and Motivation

To start the lesson off, the teacher will wear an outfit or clothing that Africans commonly wear. The teacher will tell the class to pretend that we are in Africa today. It will be like taking a field trip.

For Activating prior knowledge, the teacher will ask the students to volunteer to tell anything they know about Africa. This could include facts, opinions, or personal stories.

The teacher will write different responses that the children offer on the chalkboard as the children are talking.

B. Lesson Body

Basic Land Features and Characteristics of Africa

T: Africa has so many interesting facts and so much information to find out. We are first going to look at some basic background knowledge of Africa, and to refresh your memory of what you already know and to learn what you do not know.

The teacher will now share some facts about Africa, and give descriptions of the land. the descriptions may include the size compared to other continents; how it is divided into mountains, plains, and grasslands; and the longest river. A map of Africa will be used when going over these descriptions.

The teacher will show the three different topographic regions that Africa has using a map that has already separated these regions. These three regions are the Desert, Grassland, and the Tropical Forest.

Students will then be given their own basic map of Africa showing the topographic regions to color. The teacher will give clear instructions for what color to use for each topographic region. The desert will be colored brown, the grassland will be colored green and the tropical forest will be left up to the child. They should use their imagination.

Along with the map, the students will include a list of the basic characteristics of Africa that were discussed earlier. These will include facts such as; the size compared to other continents, how the land is divided up with mountains and plains and grasslands, and the longest river, and any other information added, The map activity will be to see what the students have learned up to this point.

The teacher will walk around the room while the students are coloring and writing their list. If the child needs any assistance on coloring or trouble remembering characteristics, the teacher is there to help get the student back on track.

Who are Africans and How do they live?

T: We are going to read a few short paragraphs from this handout about the people of Africa, where they come from, and how they live. Within your small groups, discuss what you have read and answer a few questions I'm going to give you.

How do most Africans live? Compare their life style of living and their types of homes to Americans.

The teacher will walk around to each group while the students are discussing. The teacher will ask group members one of the questions asked. The teacher can facilitate the discussion and make sure that all the students understand the information.

Students should now have a clear idea of the types of homes Africans live in. Students should remain in their groups for the next activity. They will be making an African village model out of oatmeal boxes and construction paper.

The teacher should set supplies out for easy access to students. Making the African village model is a group activity and all students must participate. The teacher will give clear instructions on what he/she expects the students to do. This activity will allow the students to be creative.

As the students are working in their groups, the teacher is walking among them observing. The teacher will ask questions about why they chose the method they did, how they would feel if they live in a home like the one they are making, or what it would be like to live in a home like they are making.

During the activity, the teacher could play some African music in the background. The purpose is to set the mood and make the environment seem more real. The village model gives them a real perspective of Africa.

C. Closure

To do a little review on Africa, on what the teacher went over, the teacher will have the students write a letter to a person that lives in Africa. THE teacher will set up the arrangements prior to this lesson so each child will have a person to write to.

The teacher will collect the first letter to see what the child has learned and to make sure the information is correct. After grading them, the teacher will give them back to the child so he/she can address their letter. The teacher will put the letters in the mailbox.

The children can develop a pen pal relationship with the person they are writing to, and continue to write throughout the unit. The following letters will not be collected and graded. Writing pen pal letters will close up this lesson of Africa.