Tackling a complex and diverse continent such as Africa and presenting it to students in a way that makes sense is an extraordinarily difficult task. Knowing where to begin and what to focus on are the biggest challenges. Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies and African Studies Center has a section on their website for Teaching Africa with a section specifically for Teacher Resources.
The resources are sorted by grade level for elementary, middle, and high school and by topic including culture, geography, health, history, and specific African countries. There are even resources for general tips on teaching Africa such as not discussing Africa like it is one big country and going beyond the stereotypes we often see in movies.
One of my favorite introductory activities from the website is Bingo: US-Africa Connections. The bingo squares each have a question that relates to a connection between the US and a country in Africa. For example, the question might say “Have you seen a picture of Nelson Mandela?”. Students must go around the room collecting initials from classmates who can answer yes to the question. The first person to get a bingo wins. At the end of the activity there is a list of notes that relate to each of the questions on the bingo squares with an explanation of how that question relates to a country in Africa. It is a great way for your students to understand that they are already connected with countries in Africa.
- Focus on the Tips for Teaching about Africa first to help you understand how to approach the teaching of Africa and how to start the unit.
- Try as much as possible to have students distinguish between countries in Africa instead of focusing on the continent as one massive culture.