Let our Virtual Camp series begin! I am so excited that for our very first week of camp, we will do a Virtual World Travel Tour for Kids! Everyone loved the How to Read Maps lesson plan, so I was thrilled when our Facebook Group voted for this theme. We will use these passport books to keep track of which places our kids explore, and to record our favorite things that we learn about each country.
In today’s Africa for Kids lesson plan, we will learn about the countries, biomes and animals in Africa, along with a bunch of fun facts about Africa. We will make our own map, go on phenomenal virtual tours of Africa, cook some of their most popular recipes and play some of their favorite games (like Mancala and Achi). We will even make our own African drum (djembe) and thumb piano, and learn an African dance. Plus, we will explore the history of South Africa, Apartheid and Nelson Mandela, and read books about Africa for kids.
Facts About Africa for Kids
1. There are 54 countries in Africa
Africa is made up of 54 countries, plus Western Sahara (which is a “non-self governing territory”).
2. Africa is the second most populous continent
With around 1.2 billion people, Africa is the home to around 17% of the people living on Earth. Over half of these people are younger than 25 years old.
3. Incredible wildlife and animals
Africa is the home to some of the most well-known animals, including elephants, zebras, cheetahs, giraffes, rhinos and lions.
4. Diverse vegetation grows in Africa
There are many vegetation types in Africa, including savannas, woodlands, scrublands, alpine forests and tropical rainforests.
5. Africa is the hottest continent
No other continent is hotter than Africa. 60% of the land in Africa are deserts and drylands. Africa is also the second driest continent (with Australia being the most dry!)
6. Over 25% of the world’s bird species
Africa has amazing wildlife, including over a quarter of the world’s bird species.
Map of Africa for Kids
Let’s make a map of Africa, so that our kids can refer back to it throughout their activities. Here is a free, printable map of Africa. You can either color each country a different color. Another option is to learn about the regions of Africa here, and then color each region it’s own color.
Geography Facts About Africa
While your child is coloring a map of Africa, here are some fun things to discuss.
1. Names of countries in Africa
What are the names of the countries in Africa? How many countries are there? You can even label the names on the map, if you would like!
2. Savanna biome & others in Africa
Discuss the various biomes within Africa, such as the dessert, grasslands and rainforest. How is each different? You can learn about the Savanna biome, as well as others, here.
3. Animals found in Africa
Talk about what animals can be found in the various regions of Africa. Encyclopedia Britannica has this resource that talks about the animal life within Africa.
4. Locate the Nile River
Find the Nile River on the map and point it out. The Nile is the second longest river in the entire world!
South Africa for Kids (Country Mini-Lesson)
In order to talk about South Africa, it is important to understand Apartheid. What is Apartheid? Who started Apartheid in South Africa? Who opposed Apartheid? You can explore all of these topics in History.com’s article here.
In addition, let’s learn about Nelson Mandela. Who was he? What role did he play in South Africa? What did he do to win the Nobel Peace Prize? You can learn all about him in this biography on the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s website.
Africa Books for Kids
These books about Africa for kids are a great way to explore Africa, while practicing reading! Some are even available for free with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, which you can try for free (and you do not even need a kindle).
1. Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales
This book of fantastic African Folktales was written by Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa. Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales contains thirty-two tales that are both classic, as well as new, stories in Africa.
2. Safari, So Good!: All About African Wildlife
Anything from the Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library is a winner in our house. Safari, So Good!: All About African Wildlife is about all of the animals that the Cat in the Hat sees on a safari in Africa.
3. The Marvelous Mud House: A Story of Finding Fullness and Joy
An American family travels to Kenya and discovers a mud house. In The Marvelous Mud House: A Story of Finding Fullness and Joy, we learn about the value of finding true joy.
4. Mama Panya’s Pancakes
This beautiful story is about a boy who invites everyone who he sees to come over for a pancake dinner. There is a big problem though, how will his mom ever feed everyone her son invited in their Kenyan village? Mama Panya’s Pancakes teaches how important sharing is, even when you do not have much yourself.
5. The Travel Book: A journey through every country in the world
While this book is not exclusively about Africa, The Travel Book: A journey through every country in the world (Lonely Planet Kids) certainly covers Africa and it is a great way for our kids to explore many different countries!
6. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
For our older kids, Long Walk to Freedom is a fantastic book that was also written by Nelson Mandela. It discusses Mandela’s battle against racial oppression in South Africa, which led led to him winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
African Dance Lesson Videos
African Dance is beautiful and a fun way to explore the country of Africa. Below is an African Dance Lesson that my kids enjoyed. Plus, it helps to familiarize your child with a clock face, which will help when learning How to Tell Time on a Clock!
African Phrases & Meanings
Did you know that Africa is estimated to speak between 1,500 to 2,000 different African languages? Some of the most popular languages in Africa include Swahili, Amharic, Yoruba, Oromo, Hausa, Igbo and Zulu. Learning one of these languages could be a fun challenge, but for now, here are some slang words and phrases used in South Africa!
People say “ag” as an expression of irritation in South Africa. For example, a person who is upset might say “Ag, no man!”
An outdoor barbeque, where you cook meat over a fire, is called a braai.
3. Just Now
Contrary to what it sounds like, when a South African says “just now,” they mean they will do in a bit (not immediately!)
The term “lekker” means something that is great. For example, if someone enjoys a meal, they might say “the food was lekker.”
When someone says “shame” in South Africa, it is a sign of sympathy. For example, a person might say “Shame, poor girl!” Shame can also be a sign of admiration, in which case it would be used like “shame, your daughter is so adorable!”
The act of spreading gossip in Africa is called “skinner.”
7. Slap Chips
The phrase slap chips refer to a fried potato chip (or a thick “French Fry,” as we call it in America).
Virtual Tours of Africa
While visiting Africa would be incredible, we can have the next best experience by taking a virtual tour of Africa. Here are a few free Africa tour options!
1. Table Mountain virtual tour
You can go on a virtual tour of Table Mountain, which is in Cape Town, Africa here. It is a very special, and unique, mountain that is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
2. 360-degree virtual tour of Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is one of the most popular cities in Africa and is a fun place to explore. You can take a 360-degree virtual tour of this great city in South Africa here.
3. Go rafting down the Zambezi River in Zambia-Zimbabwe
Oh, how this makes me want to go rafting down the Zambezi River in Zambia-Zimbabwe. It is an absolutely fantastic aerial video!
4. Visit a watering hole in Kenya to watch wildlife
You never know what you might see at this watering hole in Kenya. People have seen hippos, crocodiles, zebras, gazelles, giraffes, elephants and even a leopard!
5. Go on a South African Safari
Want to go on a safari in South Africa? Here is a great resource where you can watch long game drives (live!) twice a day at 6:30 am and 15 pm CAT. For reference, EST is six hours behind Central Africa Time (CAT), and each livestream goes on for approximately three hours.
6. Watch flamingoes in Kenya
You can see tons of flamingoes on Lake Bogoria in Kenya here. My flamingo-loving daughter thought this was incredible!
7. Visit Namib Desert (in Namibia)
Want to visit another biome in Africa? You can take a 360-degree virtual tour of the Namib Desert in Namibia here.
8. Explore Victoria Falls in Zambia
Visit one of the most incredible waterfalls in the world, Victoria Falls in Zambia, here.
9. PBS virtual field trip of Africa
PBS has a great virtual field trip of Africa for kids here. The video is just over half an hour, for planning purposes!
DIY Mancala Board
Mancala is a game that started in Africa. It is very simple to make your very own mancala board using just an egg carton and small objects like these pony beads. Here is a great example of how to make a DIY mancala board and how to play the game.
How to make an African Drum (Djembe)
Make your own djembe, or African drum, out of two paper cups and a “punching bag” balloon.
DIY Thumb Piano (Kalimba)
How do you make an easy African mask?
Printable Achi Game Board
In Ghana, they play a game called Achi, which is similar to tic-tac-toe, but with some added twists! You can make your own achi game board here (and learn the rules of the game) or simply print one out here.
African Recipes and Food
We love trying new foods in our home. So whenever we learn about a country, we always try to incorporate foods from that country into our lesson! Here are a few African Recipes that are popular African foods.
1. African Chicken Stew
This West African Chicken Stew is made with chicken, black eyed peas, creamy peanut butter and sweet potatoes. Serve it over brown rice for a delicious meal.
2. Biltong Beef Jerky
My kids LOVE beef jerky. While it can be a bit of work, biltong is a delicious South African Beef Jerky that is worth trying! Here is a recipe to get you started, or you can purchase pre-made Biltong here, which is the way that I go.
3. African Rice & Beans
You can’t have a true African meal without including rice and beans, like African Bites makes here.
This is the national dish of South Africa and combines curried meat with a creamy topping, somewhat reminiscent of Greece’s moussaka. This Bobotie recipe from the BBC has absolutely amazing reviews!
5. Malva Chocolate Pudding
Do you love chocolate? Then, you will love this traditional South African dessert. The word “pudding” here is not what you would think of as pudding in America. It simply means “dessert.”
6. Puff Puff, a West African Street Food
Warning: these are extremely addicting! Puff Puff is a popular street food in West Africa. They are basically what we might think of as beignets. Here is an easy recipe for puff puffs.
And the most fun part… share a photo or video of your virtual camp activities on Facebook! Make sure to include a link to this website or to our Facebook Group and Facebook Page, so that we can see it too! It gives our kids a great sense of community to see that we are all doing the same activities together!