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Africa Unit w/ Free Printables

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We ended our school year, the last week in June, with a study of Africa.  It turned out to be quite an amazing experience, one that the kiddos will remember for quite some time.  I never realized that the study of a continent could be filled with so many varying emotions.  Some days the kiddos were beyond thrilled to celebrate aspects of African culture through music, art activities etc.  Other days, at least one of the kiddos was in tears as they learned about the political turmoil, war, and hardships people in Africa have had and continue to experience.  My animal lover was so excited to learn about so many animals from Africa, but as he read and researched them, he became extremely anxious and overwhelmed at the dangers some animals posed to those who live near them.  We started watching the news as a family the same week we were doing this unit.  Each night, a different country in Africa was mentioned.   I was thrilled they recognized the flags shown, even before the news story started, but as each story unfolded, their faces were filled with sadness.  Over the week, I even heard prayers for the people in Africa.

Despite learning about the realities of life in some areas of Africa, the kiddos LOVED their learning time activities and were very eager to start them each day.  Here's what we did!  I'm so excited to bring together the inspiration and work of so many fellow Montessori bloggers!

 Animals of Africa: Object Tray
Over the course of the year, the kiddos have learned to identify and write all of their upper and lowercase cursive letters individually.  We've even introduced the Montessori Cursive Moveable Alphabets with Box.  (One of my favorite things)  They haven't mastered the skills yet, but they're getting there.  I was excited to start incorporating cursive reading activities on our shelves.  The animals of Africa activity is our very first.  Cards have each word printed on the back as a control.  The animal figures are part of the Safari Ltd Wild TOOB, Set.  The kiddos had a blast matching up African animals to their names in cursive!

Source:  The idea for this activity came from To the Lesson!

Africa Sentence & Picture Match Up
In this activity, the kiddos will match sentences to their corresponding pictures.  Originally I did provide the control of pictures and sentences already matched up, but after the first day, the kiddos didn't need them, so I removed them from the basket.

Source:  This activity is part of Trillium Montessori's 7 Continents A-Z Bundle.  Not long ago, I was approached by Seemi from Trillium Montessori, and asked if I would become an affiliate for this product.  In return for advertising her amazing 7 Continents A-Z Bundle, I would receive commission for every bundle I sell.  I thought long and hard about the offer and eventually accepted. Seemi creates AMAZING printables.  You have seen them in several of my units before.  On occasions when I've been ill or completely run down by the realities of life with special needs kiddos, I go to Trillium Montessori for inspiration and printables.  I have never been let down.
Why purchase Trillium Montessori's 7 Continents A-Z Bundle?  Quite honestly, between my free continent printables and her bundle, you have all you need to create well rounded and beautiful continent units, without the fuss of having to come up with your own materials!  It's that simple.  The printables are of the best quality.  (I don't say that lightly.)

Lastly, some of you have approached me asking how you can give back or say thank you for the FREE units, activities, and printables I've created over the years.  Purchasing the 7 Continents A-Z Bundle is your opportunity to do just that.  I promise it's well worth your money!

If you are interested in purchasing Trillium Montessori's 7 Continents A-Z Bundle, click HERE now!

African Country Syllables
I have found the best way to teach the kiddos how to pronounce the names of various countries on each continent is to practice with syllables.  It works like a charm every time.  Before the activity goes on the shelves, we practice the pronunciation of each country together.  Once the kiddos are confident in their skills, the activity is placed on the shelves.  To accommodate special needs and to be realistic, the kiddos are not expected to complete all syllable cards.  There are a TON of cards.  Instead we tell them they must complete as many cards as they are old.  They are free to choose which cards they want to do.  To give an example, Dinomite is 8 years old, and therefore chooses 8 country syllable cards to complete.  Now it may work better for others to rotate a small number of cards each day the activity is on the shelves, or give the same number of cards for everyone to complete.  It's the teacher's choice!  No matter which way you do it, the kiddos are sure to learn a ton.

Source:  I created this printable as part of my Africa Unit Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Fact Family Pyramids
Over the past month we've been working on understanding fact families while completing workbook assignments.  It's been a difficult concept for the kiddos to understand on paper.  I was thrilled that this activity helped them master the skill!  Adding the Montessori -Colored Bead Stairs 1-10 to the activity made such a difference, as it added the hands on visual component they needed.  As always Montessori wins again!  Lol.

Source: The free printable for this activity can be found at 3 Dinosaurs at part of the Egypt Pack Part 2.  I cut out the individual problems and laminated them.

Buying Items from Africa
In this activity the kiddos will match up change cards to money amount cards.  The cost of each item is by no means legitimate, it's just a way to get them practicing their money skills while learning about Africa at the same time.  All of the kiddos are doing so well when counting change.  They've come such a long way.

Source:  I create the printable for this activity as part of my Africa Unit Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Flags of Africa
My kiddos LOVE flags.  Due to Bulldozer's allergy to adhesives, we've never been able to do typical Montessori flag and country matching activities.  Instead we create nomenclature cards and use them to play memory or another matching game.

There are A LOT of countries in Africa.  When we played our initial game we included all country cards.  To say that it was a long game is an understatement.  It took the kiddos two days to complete it.  Lol.  After our initial game, I divided the country cards into two groups and we played that way for the rest of the week.  They definitely know their flags now.

Source:  My husband and I created the printable for this activity as part of my Africa Unit Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Ancient Egypt Dig Match Up
 The kiddos thoroughly enjoyed this activity.  They would dig for the Safari Ltd Ancient Egypt TOOB figures and then match them to the laminated cards provided.  When presenting the activity, my husband did a great job explaining what each figure was, so they weren't just matching objects, but actually understanding the history behind them.

Source:  My husband created the printable for this activity as part of the Africa Unit Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Montessori Map of Africa Coloring Activity
There's just something about maps.  My kiddos just love them, especially Dinomite.  When I pair them with colored pencils or crayons, it's as if I've created a gift for them, especially when I've prepared a control map.  All of them successfully colored their maps during our Africa study, coloring about 10-12 countries a day.  Someday I hope to have the Montessori Puzzle Map of Africa with Control Maps, but for now, this will do, especially since it's free!

Source:  I found this free printable map at Free US and World, and then colored it to match Montessori colors.  There are blank copies of the map for the kiddos to color, under the control on the tray.

Animals of Africa Animal Parts Book Activity
When I asked Bulldozer what he wanted to learn about in our Africa study, he told me he wanted to learn about zebras.  I couldn't resist this Parts of a Zebra Book activity.

Princess LOVES making books more than any other activity on our shelves each week.  If I let her make both books, over and over again each day, she would.  Lol.  (We have a rule of one book a day, just to make sure there's enough paper for everyone, etc.)  It just made sense to include both giraffe and zebra books to provide variety.

As anticipated, the kiddos really enjoyed the process of creating their own books.  Instead of stapling the books beforehand, I let the kiddos try using the stapler for the first time.  It was a challenge for them, but with time I'm sure they'll do great with it.

Source:  The printables for this activity can be found at The Pinay Homeschooler for a small price.  I promise they are worth it!  The printable pack includes so many more valuable parts.

Biomes of Africa
Throughout the year we've been working on learning all the different biomes around the world. This week we're learning about those specific to Africa.  I love these cards because they list specific places in Africa.  The kiddos used their maps to find where they are.
Source:  The printable for this activity is part of the Trillium Montessori's 7 Continents A-Z Bundle.  As an affiliate, I will receive a part of every sale.

100 Animals from Africa
Dinomite wouldn't let a continent unit go by without making sure there were animal cards to sort.  My husband surprised him with not just 50, but 100 cards.  His reasoning was that there were just so many amazing animals in Africa.  He wanted to be sure to include as many as he could.  Lol.  Are you starting to understand where Dinomite gets his passions from?  Lol.
The animal cards are placed in a basket on our shelves.  The kiddos sort them by classification, using the labels on the cards.  Dinomite selected this activity from the shelves every day we were studying Africa.

Source:  My husband created the printable for this activity as part of the Africa Unit Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

Making a Masai Necklace
If there was one activity that was fought over most on our shelves during our study of Africa, it was this one.  I can not tell you how many of these necklaces are scattered around our house.  The kiddos even started making them for each other.  Lol.  It was a great activity.
Dinomite wanted to be sure I took a picture of everyone with their necklaces.

Source:  Posts about Masai Necklaces are all over the internet, but I was first introduced to the activity while reading To the Lesson.  I love the set up of the activity there.

Music of Africa
We are very blessed to have personal connections to "The Music Man" in town.  When I called to ask if he'd be willing to come and introduce the kiddos to African instruments he owns, he was more than delighted to oblige.  The kiddos were ecstatic as they LOVE when "The Music Man" comes.  They were not disappointed.  He brought African music for us to listen to and introduced us to a variety of native instruments that the kiddos were able to play along to the music.  It was so much fun!

Sensorial/Practical Life:
Pouring Teff
The kiddos have been working on pouring liquids, but they haven't had much experience pouring solids.  I thought using Teff, an African grain would be perfect.  The smell alone was luring.  The kiddos will practice pouring from the bottle to the bowl, and then use a funnel to return the Teff to it's bottle.

Source.  This activity was inspired by a post I read at To The Lesson.

Mortar & Pestle with Coriander
The kiddos have never used a mortar and pestle before.  This was a whole new experience for them, one that they thoroughly enjoyed.  Add coriander to the activity and you have a pleasant aroma.  The kiddos kept saying it smelled like lemon.  Lol.

Source:  This activity with more specific instructions can be found at Welcome to Mommyhood, along with many other Africa themed practical life activities.  

Spooning Red Quinoa
The kiddos practiced spooning red quinoa. I do believe this was the smallest grain they've ever spooned.  They enjoyed the process. I also found a new wooden spoon at the thrift store.  It's just the little things that make such a difference when repeating materials.

Source:  My apologies.  I can not remember for the life of me where I saw this spooning quinoa as part of an African study.  If you have a source for the idea, please leave it in comments.  Spooning activities in general are everywhere on the internet, so there's no direct source for that.

Grinding Cinnamon
If I were to choose a scent that my kiddos love above any other, it's cinnamon.  They were so excited to see cinnamon sticks on their "fun" shelves.  All of them attempted to grind cinnamon.  They were surprised by how difficult it was.  Still they kept coming back for more.  Dinomite even insisted on using his ground cinnamon in a cinnamon and sugar mix to put on his toast in the morning.

Source:  I found this activity at Welcome to Mommyhood.

Shisima is an African game from Kenya.  It's very simple and comparable to tic-tac-toe, in terms of difficulty.  Once my kiddos learned and understood the game, they had so much fun playing against each other, and my husband and I.  I may just take it to Disney World when we visit Animal Kingdom or Epcot as a busy bag.

Source:  The free printable and game instructions for this activity can be found at B-Inspired Mama.

As you can see, we had a fabulous unit study of Africa.  The school year ended on such a great note!

For those who are interested in the printable pack, click on the link below:

Just a reminder that my next post is the first of our new school year.  All activities on our shelves for each unit will now be divided between three posts.  I can't wait to show you the Solar System and Milky Way activities the kiddos are working on right now!


  1. I'm new to Montessori- how do kids make the animal parts books? Do they have control cards and then color the pages on their books to match? I noticed there were some blank pages, do the kids write the names of the parts on the pages they've colored?

    I'm excited for your new school year and all the new ideas that you'll have for us :)

    - Missy Pea @ In Our Pond

    1. Welcome to Montessori! It's amazing. When making animal part books, kiddos use control cards. The cards usually have parts of the animal highlighted in red. Blank pages of a book are provided where the kiddos color in the correct animal part and write it's name on the line below. The first cards shown in the picture I used in this post are the title page pictures of the book. Does this make sense? Thank you so much for stopping by and asking. :) Good luck with your new school year!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This looks fantastic! So many great ideas as always!

  3. Thank you so much for making these cards available for free. My 4 year old is fascinated with Africa right now and I have 3 month old twins so finding time to find good, educational materials is a little difficult. We've also been working on coin identification and value so this is a double bonus. Thank you!

  4. Renae, your Africa studies unit is just amazing! Exciting as well as challenging and the presentations are beautiful. Some truly unique ideas here. Your family is so fortunate to be getting the education they are getting!
    I especially LOVE your "Music Man" lesson.

  5. Every post of yours is a big surprise. It is always full of interesting activities and cool ideas! Thank you

  6. Wow! You put so much work and love into this beautiful unit on Africa! I love it!


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