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What follows is a list of activity ideas for a study around the Anansi stories of West Africa.  You will find what serves as our booklist here.  I had planned to put approximate grade levels on each activity but decided it wasn't necessary.  No one knows your child better than you.  You know what they are interested in and what they are able to do.  I firmly believe in being in tune with your child so that you give them all they want, without pushing, when they want it.  Please do not continue any of these activities if they are boring or somehow stress your child out.  Just like the use of any curriculum I recommend that you take what appeals to you and toss the rest.

Language Arts

Many of the Anansi stories have a rhythm.  Each story has places where you can pause and allow the child to fill in the blanks.  For example, in the story Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock you could read "Isn't this a strange moss-covered rock!" once or twice and let them say it for the remainder of the story.

Another bit of word play that "some" kids find fun is to alter a word and let them catch you.  Using the above example you could substitute boulder for rock and thank them when they correct you.  Little ones feel they are really helping when they supply the correct word.  And this helps to check attention level.  Both of my kids absorb a great deal even if they "look" fidgety.

Play the Adjective Game using pictures of the animals found in Anansi stories.  You can check here for animal clipart or use any graphics program such as Print Shop Ensemble or Microsoft Picture It.

Making your own books on tape is a snap.  Divide up the jobs so that someone reads the book, someone provides the sound effects and another produces the "turn the page" sound.  You'll find that this becomes a life saver as you will be building your own cassette book library.  You can reach for these books to keep those kids busy while you shower or cook or work with another child.  Having a hand in creating the book will make it all the more special for your child.

 

Music

We are lucky to have two African drums in our house.  My kids use them as we read.  They vary how they play depending on where we are in the story.  In Anansi Does the Impossible Aso whispers to Anansi several times.  Each time the book reads "pesa, pesa, pesa".  The glossary lists pesa [PAY-suh] as being "the breathy sound of whispering".  We drum our fingertips on the drum to produce a musical pesa, pesa, pesa while we whisper the words.  I believe that Anansi Does the Impossible is the best book for drumming along. You can use almost anything - an empty can, the top of a table or even your hands.

Geography

I'm very serious about geography and I don't tolerate "I hate geography" whines in my house.  In college I took Cultural Geography instead of the typical Geo101.  I think I made the right choice.  I learned that a study of geography is really a study of LIFE.  There is so much more to geography than just maps.  Why do people dress as they do?  What influences their cuisine? Their religion? Their politics? Geography. 

If you learn why, where and how wars are fought you are studying the influences of  geography at work.  A look into religion and politics, religion and war or just plan religion is a study in geography.  Where are the earth's resources?  Who has them? Are they being shared equally? If not, why not? And what is the result?  Are ethical standards universal?  Why or why not?  People live, love and kill all because of the influences of geography.  Some of us just don't see that which is unfortunate because those people are missing out on a great deal of fun, not to mention a deeper understanding of the human condition.

The Anansi stories are a perfect way to make geography come alive.  Even the youngest of kids will enjoy these experiences.  Why not dabble in a bit of Nigerian cuisine?  Don't forget to check out this peanut cookie recipe for a perfect end to a new and adventurous meal.

What are kids like in West Africa?  Do they go to school 5 days a week like we do in the States?  What holidays do they observe?  What type of climate do they have compared to yours?  Do you think West African kids ever have snowball fights?  What do you think they would say if they saw a blizzard with 20 inches of snow or more?  Do you think a child from West Africa would like your favorite foods if they came to dinner?  I ask my children questions like these all the time.  I can tell you that time and again we get into such wonderful discussions.  These talks often send us into a research frenzy and we delve deeper only to uncover more questions to be answered!

If you have kids who enjoy maps I suggest that you print them out a world map and have them color it in.  Laminate it so that it will be sturdy.  Our world maps have each continent a different color.  This has proved to be very helpful.  As you study different countries or regions create maps of that area.  You will be able to add more detail on these maps, rather than your world map, because you will have more space to work with.  We label major bodies of water, states/countries and cities.  My preschooler likes to put stickers of native animals on her maps and color all the water blue.  A great source for printable outline maps can be found here.  You can find maps in .pdf format as well.

I will be sharing our favorite games from Africa as soon as time permits  For now let me point you to the game Yote.  This is one of our very favorites and can be played by even young children.  The game is easy to learn.  At that site you can print the game out, attach to a file folder and be playing within minutes.  OR you can view the file to see the board and then create your own on paper or from felt and ribbon.

Thanks for stopping by.  Here's wishing you a fun-filled, meaningful study!

Dawne

 

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