Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pinning Down Africa!

As is beautifully demonstrated in the book, Africa Is Not A Country, Africa is pretty much impossible to pin down in a neat little one-dimensional box.

But that didn't keep us from pinning it down in the most literal of ways!  We found these fun little cork tiles at the craft store and had fun making a perforated outline of Africa.  This Montessori-inspired activity was a great way to work on coordination, concentration, fine-motor skills and strengthening the muscles used with handwriting.  My boys were focused.  I think we'll definitely be delving into this a bit more...  (More info and ideas on how to incorporate pin-punching can be found here.)   

While we were at it, I was able to talk with them about the various geographical features of Africa - the Horn of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, fingering where the Nile flows, etc.  We also talked about the areas that we were touching on during this exploration of Africa - the Sahara, Egypt and the Savannah.  It is amazing how much they can absorb while their hands are kept busy!

The boys were so inspired by their punched out Africa pictures, that we used one to cut out a patch for one of the many holes that are accruing on little boy jeans.  We'll see how that works out...

I will tell you about our adventures in the African Savannah tomorrow, but for now here are some of our favorite books dealing with the Sahara and Egypt.

This Is The Oasis
This Is The Oasis ~ This was a beautiful picture that depicted life in the Sahara and emphasized the importance of the oasis.  It brought back wonderful memories of my explorations of Africa as a girl when we dressed up as nomadic Tuareg and slept in a different spot every night for a week!

 Ali, Child of the Desert
Ali, Child of the Desert ~ This book tells the story of a boys journey from his oasis to Morocco to trade.  I love narratives like this that teach so much just through the course of the story.  Again, we consulted our globe and found the region that the Sahara covers as well as Morocco!  Having ridden camels over Christmas with their Oma, they really got into the story and placed themselves in it!

We're Sailing Down the Nile
We're Sailing Down the Nile ~ Everyone enjoyed this.  In fact, I went up to watch my sisters children one morning and while my boys were too enthralled with new toys to want me to read to them, my niece (almost 3) and nephew (18m) sat with rapt attention while I read this book.

 The Prince of Egypt
The Prince of Egypt ~ We learned about Moses by reading various books we had around the house and then topped it off with this movie.  While it is not 100% biblically accurate, it was a visual feast for the eyes of life in Pharaoh's court.

We certainly didn't do an in-depth study, but this skimming was a perfect introduction to this beautiful continent.

Related Africa posts: Mama Panya's Pancakes


  1. What a bounty of ideas! I had never heard of using pins to outline before...what a great idea! Your boys are blessed! :)

  2. What a fun project! I wish I would have seen this when my children were younger. Just stopped by from the Hip Homeschool Hop- love your ideas. :)

  3. Fun stuff! We are delving into Egypt now and I can use these resources! I am a new follower of your blog, too!

  4. Great geography and fine motor ideas. I've been looking for more ways to include geography in our lessons, thanks. I linked over from the Hip Homeschool Hop and am now following your blog.

  5. What great ideas! We are also studying Egypt this year so this is a timely post. Also, we are adopting from Africa so I have been looking for activities to help my kids learn about their new sibling's culture. Thank you so much for sharing! I'll be following your blog.