For each continent, we have a Montessori continent box full of small cultural objects, money, photos, and pamphlets from the continent. When we were beginning this unit, I asked my Instagram followers from all over the world if they would be interested in sending us things — and so many said yes! That is where the majority of our cultural items are from, but you can also purchase the contents for your Montessori continent box if you don’t have those personal connections — check here and here.
We first studied Africa as a whole continent before breaking it up into different countries. After finding Africa on our Montessori continents globe and in our Atlas, we enjoyed looking at the beautiful images provided in Welcome to Mommyhood‘s Africa pre-reading cards.
Africa is of course known for its beautiful wildlife, and we had tons of fun looking at all of the different African animals and matching the parents to their offspring using Every Star is Different‘s Animals of Africa Printable Pack.
We also had tons of fun counting the African animals in her Animal Number Cards, part of that same printable pack.
Once we had studied Africa as a whole, we began diving into some of the different countries. Because Africa is so large, we divided up our study into northern, western, central, eastern, and southern Africa. We used Every Star is Different’s Africa Unit Printable Pack to study the flags of the countries and some Egyptian art.
As we do with each continent, we tried to taste as many African dishes as we could find the ingredients for! We cooked some Egyptian Green Herb Soup (Melokhia), West African Sweet Potato Fritters and Ginger Fried Fish, and East African Chapatis and Beef Mishkaki.
I am passionate about not shying away from difficult events in the history of these places we are learning about. My children are only 3 and 2, but there are ways of beginning conversation about hard topics in history. We discussed the slave trade as part of our study of West Africa — mostly through books, which you will find a list of at the bottom of this post.
We also spent some time on some famous people who lived or worked in Africa, such as Jane Goodall and Nelson Mandela.
As you can imagine, we read quite a few books about Africa in the month we spent studying the continent. I scoured our local library as well as our personal book collection, and these are the books I chose for our Africa study. Please keep in mind that my choices were limited to the books available at our little library, so I couldn’t possibly include everything — but I do recommend all of these ones:
[in general order from Northern, Western, Central, Eastern, to Southern Africa]
African Animals, by Caroline Arnold
Cooking the North African Way, by Mary Winget
Egypt, by Ann Heinrichs
Eyewitness Books Pyramid, by James Putnam
Ancient Egypt, by George Hart
Africa Dream, by Eloise Greenfield
We’re Going on a Lion Hunt, by David Axtell
Jungle Drums, by Graeme Base
Lila and the Secret of Rain, by David Conway & Jude Daly
Never Forgotten, by Patricia McKissack
Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad, by Monica Edinger
The Red Pencil, by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Cooking the West African Way, by Constance Nabwire
Cooking the East African Way, by Bertha Vining Montgomery
Kenya, by Michael Burgan
Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa, by Don Brown
Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book, by Muriel Feelings
Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book, by Muriel Feelings
Me…Jane, by Patrick McDonnell
Anansi and the Talking Melon, retold by Eric A. Kimmel
Anansi and the Magic Stick, retold by Eric A. Kimmel
Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears, by Verna Aardema
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, by Verna Aardema
South Africa, by Ettagale Blauer
Beautiful Blackbird, by Ashley Bryan
Goal!, by Mina Javaherbin
Nelson Mandela, by Kadir Nelson