We Went to Africa…Travel Series! (Part 5)

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We. Went. to. Africa…Part 5!

Woo whoo! We made it to the final leg of our trip to West Africa. And what a time it has been! By the time we finish our stint here, you’ll have visited nine West African countries! Give yourselves a hand folks! You deserve it.

Well, let’s get down to business because we’ve got a lot to cover! First up…

Trip #1: Liberia

Land of the Free

Inhabited for ages prior to its “formation” (cue Beyonce!), Liberia, was officially “founded” by freed blacks from America. The close ties to the United States and Liberia are obvious even in the uncanny similarities between our flags.

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Check out this cool video made by a second-grade class to learn more.

Folktales

In a world where just about any small animal could end up as dinner, you’d have to have some wits about ya! Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile – A Liberian Folktale by Won-Ldy Payne and Margarett H. Lippert shows just that.

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She Was First!

Liberia elected their first female president, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, in 2005. In fact, she is the first elected female Head of State in all of Africa! Peace Warriors by Andrea Davis Pinkney, gives more background to President Johnson’s life.

** This is the only book we haven’t read yet in this series. It’s on our booklist, but I still thought it was worth sharing.

Wanna Play?

Watching these hand-clapping games brought me back to my own childhood of playing “Ms. Mary Mack” and “Numbers”. The girls and I learned the first game in this video, which was a lot of fun, but all three were great to watch.

Trip #2: Ghana

Travel Guide

There is so much to know about all the peoples of Africa but we tried our best. Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions by Margaret Musgrave gave us a snippet. Every group has a name and story. You can meet the Ashanti and Ga people of Ghana while you’re at it!

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Modern-Day Ghana vs. The Kingdom of Ghana 

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While many of us were learning about knights in shining armor in Medieval Europe, powerful kings ruled empires in Africa! The Kingdom of Ghana was one of those.

Just a quick note, the names of many ancient places mimic those of their modern-day counterparts. But it gets tricky is when locations change but names remain the same.




At its height, the Ghana Empire was located in present-day Senegal, Mauritania and Mali. We couldn’t get past our studies of Ghana without making mention of such a powerful kingdom (with the same name) even if its current location has changed. Take a minute to explain this to your kiddos and then dive in!

African Beginnings, by James Haskins and Kathleen Benson, takes us to 450 A.D. and brings news of the Ghana Empire’s establishment as the center of the iron industry. FYI, this book has been getting quite the work out in our studies. Turn to pages 20 and 23 for more.

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The Ashanti Empire

The Mighty Ashanti were a force to be reckoned with! Kente cloth, the most famous African print in the world, was brought to us from these people. Read The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth by Margaret Musgrave. Then make some Kente Cloth!

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Kofi and His Magic by Maya Angelou introduces us to a modern-day Ashanti boy.

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Speaking about meeting people, we also met (well, more like know really well, lol) someone from Ghana. A good friend of mine is Ghanaian and graciously shared a few articles from her country to enhance our studies. She gave us Kente cloth, jewelry and a miniature Ghanaian flag! It was really cool to handle these items in person.

If you have family or friends from another country, its well worth it to find out what’s close to the heart of that person!

Ananse the Trickster

Like I said, there’s just too much to cover! But if you’re looking for more, you can check out that old trickster, Anansi the Spider. His oral tales have gone on to impact cultures from all around the world! Who would’ve known eight legs could travel so far! Read Anansi the Spider: a Tale from the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott to get started.

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Trip #3: Nigeria

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Nigeria rounds out this West African adventure. To date, my kiddos and I have studied well over 20 African countries! But I’ve only brought a handful of those trips to your front door.

However, Nigeria is the first country in this series we have haven’t “explored” yet. But there was no way we could leave West Africa without Nigeria getting some love. If all goes well, we’ll be “traveling” there next week. I’m still putting the finishing touches on our “travel plans”, but I’ll fill you in on what I’ve got so far.

Travel Guide

We’ll use page 29 of Africa is Not a Country by Margy Burns Knight and Mark Melnicove for a brief intro.

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By the time this series is over, my kids better know Africa is not a country! 😂

Folktale

Why not experience the story of Little Red Riding Hood anew from a West African perspective in Pretty Salma: a Little Red Riding Hood Story from Africa by Nikki Daly?

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Let’s Eat!

It’s also really fun to taste what people eat from around the world. My best friend (since high school) happens to be Nigerian. She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m planning to find my way around her Nigerian kitchen and make a traditional dish! 😉

Here’s to love, laughter, and the taste of good food!

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Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed this West African journey as much as we have. Meet us here in two weeks when we tackle countries located in southern Africa. See ya then!

If you’re playing catch up or want to go back for more, here’s trips 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Blessings,

Courtney

We Went to Africa – Travel Series! (Part 4)

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We. Went. To. Africa…Part 4!

Told ya this trip to West Africa would be a whirlwind of a time! Yesterday, we explored Mauritania, Mali and Senegal. Today we continue on to the Gambia, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau! ☺️

So get your bearings, ’cause you’re in for a great time!

Trip #1: The Gambia

Travel Guide

Stop! Take a look around you! What time is it? What are you doing at this very moment? Well, if you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably wondered at least once in your life what someone was doing at that very moment, on the other side of the world. In the book, At the Same Moment, Around the World by Clotilde Perrin, you’ll find out what’s happening in over 24 different time zones…at the same time! I know we went to Senegal yesterday, but I thought you’d like to know it makes a brief appearance again in this book. And since we’re visiting the Gambia today, well, we’re practically still in Senegal! 😉 Check a map with your kiddos and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

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Recycle! Reuse! Reduce!

The endearing story of the recycling women of the Gambia is recounted in One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul. In it, you’ll hear the story of how one woman changed a whole community. Because of this determined lady, her actions have and will continue to impact generations to come!

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As an added bonus, after reading this book, the girls and I did some brainstorming about ways we can help our environment in our every day lives through recycling and conservation. Though it was last Saturday, don’t let the festivities of Earth Day pass you by just yet. You and your crew can have a hand in preserving our earth for a long time to come!

Let’s Dance!

Need I say more?! 💃🏾

Trip #2: Burkina Faso

Water, Water…Everywhere?

Two-thirds of the Earth is water. Water IS everywhere. Water IS a necessity! But, let’s face it, in many parts of the world today, it’s also a luxury. Many countries are hit hard with drought and/or unclean water. You’ll be introduced to this very struggle in The Water Princess by Susan Verde and model Georgie Badiel (who is the real-life inspiration of this harrowing tale). Princess Gie Gie envisions a day when the clean water will come to her. She’s hopeful for when her miles-long, daily marches to obtain clean water will end. The same can be said for millions of people all over the world, even now! Oh great day that will be!

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At the Waterworks

For those 80’s babies out there, no science lesson is complete without making mention of the Magic School Bus! We continued with a visit to the water works with the Frizz to see the water purification system in our context.

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** This was a great follow up to our field trip last school year to Philadelphia’s Waterworks facility. Check your area to see if there’s one available to see the process up close and personal.

Do It Yourself

It’s evident that we can’t get around the topic of water on this trip to Burkina Faso. It’s so important. I really wanted to bring home to my girls its significance in all our lives. After hearing how the heart of one first grader blossomed into Ryan’s Well, my girls and I began thinking through ways we can too. His efforts have are now impacting thousands of lives for more than a decade! Our plans are still in the works, to be continued…

Bonus experiment: Make Your Own Water Filter!

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Check out this cool experiment you can do at home. If you’re on Facebook, here’s a video of our own attempt at a water filtration system.

Our Very Own Water Filter!

If not, the picture of ours is right up there. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it looks! 😝

Trip #3: Guinea-Bissau

Salute the flag!

I haven’t introduced it in this series yet, but in all actuality, for every African country we study, my second-grader is tasked with the responsibility of drawing the flag and copying a few lines of pre-written facts (that I select) about that country.  I usually have her take a blank peace of paper and draw it free hand using a picture of it for reference. She writes the name of the country at the top, colors it and then copies the facts. Hope she doesn’t get mad at me in 10 years for sharing this (lol), but here’s a snippet of one of hers so you can see what I mean.

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 Rainwater Harvesting 

We couldn’t talk about the needs for clean water without leaving you with hope in the actual context of one of these areas of need. Here’s an inspiring video about the people of Guinea-Bissau using rainwater harvesting techniques!

Simon Says…evaporate!

It’s never too late to learn or re-learn (for some of us 😉) the water cycle.

Here’s my attempt at illustrating the water cycle for my kiddos, I’m sure you can google or Pinterest (my fave!) a model of your own. ☺️

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And then, what better way to end this exciting trip with a fun game of Simon Says…Show Me Evaporation & Precipitation?! It’s simple and easy, and probably can be made up on the fly. For “evaporation”, the kids can either raise their hands or jump up. For “precipitation/rain”, they’d do the opposite. I’m sure the bigger and bolder the movements, the better! 😂


Thanks for traveling with us! I hope you’re learning a lot and enjoying your time. Stay a little longer in any country you wish or feel free to skip the sights you don’t need to see again. The fun of this travel series is in how it works for you! 🎉

Check us out tomorrow as we round out our time in West Africa with visits to Liberia 🇱🇷, Ghana 🇬🇭 and Nigeria 🇳🇬!

Blessings,

Courtney

Here’s Parts 1, 2 and 3 if you need to back track. See ya tomorrow! 👋🏽

We Went to Africa – Travel Series! (Part 3)

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We. Went. To. Africa…Part 3!

The wait is over and we’re back with more travel fun!

We’re trekking to the western side of the great continent and you’re in for a special treat. This trip packs a triple dose of adventure with MORE sights and MORE sounds than ever before! Get ready for Parts 3, 4 & 5 of our series. You’re in for a whirlwind of travel over the next three days, when we go to Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria!!

Phew! Be sure to pack some sunblock and let’s get moving!

Trip # 1 – Mauritania

In-flight Movie

On this first adventure, you’ll have to bring your earbuds so you can enjoy the in-flight movie, Mauritania: Men of the Sea. Want to really know what life is like for the fishermen who rely solely on the sea for their livelihood? If so, this documentary is for you. Don’t be put off by the run time. My daughters and I (they’re 5 & 8 y/o) were able to stretch it over about a week’s time and it did not disappoint!

Duke it Out!

Ever heard the phrase “let’s duke it out”? Well, the traditional game of Anigur has a similar concept when played in Mauritania. Only with this game, there’s no victims or even winners or losers. It’s purely for entertainment. Read more about it at Global Voices and you can see Anigur played here:

Culture Corner 

Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane, gives readers a better glance into the Islamic culture and traditions held dear by so many Muslims all over the world. It’s the story of a young girl desiring to embrace her faith. Even as a family who practices a different faith, my girls and I were still able to appreciate the opportunity to learn about a culture different from our own.

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** Please Note: Technically, Mauritania is a country in North West Africa. And when we studied it, we “went” there during the time of our family’s other North African “visits”. BUT! For the purposes of the planning and pacing of our “trips” in this blog series, it fit best to place it with the other West African countries. Hope I didn’t cause any confusion!

Trip #2 – Mali

Let’s Go Back…WAAAAY Back!

By the time Mansa Musa ascended the throne, the Kingdom of Mali was of one of the largest empires in the world! African Beginnings by James Haskins and Kathleen Benson, charts the rise of this super power. Swallowing up modern day Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger Nigeria and Chad, the Mali Empire, was known even to the far reaches of southern Europe!

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The Richest King in History!

Do yourself a favor and grab the book, Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali by Khephra Burns. In it, you’ll hear a tale about the life of history’s richest King, Mansa Musa. The book’s stunning artwork is also sure to take your breath away. As an aside, don’t be intimidated by the lengthy text. The girls and I broke this one up over the course of several days as well. Believe me, it is well worth your time!

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Folktales

Tinga Tinga Tales is one of the few ways in which the vibrant tradition of African story telling has come to life on the small screen. Ever wonder why the spider has a tiny waist. Why doesn’t the hippo have any hair? And why does rhino charge? Watch Tinga Tinga Tales to find out!

Trip #3 – Senegal

Rock-a-bye Baby…

Lullabies are a time honored tradition in almost every culture around the world. In Africa, it’s no different. In Songs from the Baobab: African Lullabies & Nursery Rhymes, you won’t have to fight being wooed to sleep in order to enjoy this compilation of songs from Central and West Africa. We also learned the body parts in the Wolof language as we sang along with one of the songs.

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Our Africa

If you’re looking for an excellent resource to explore numerous African countries, look no further than the website Our Africa. Stop by to experience Senegal for an in-depth look at this wonderful country.

Grab a Snack!

We snuck some Home Economics in to enhance our menu…er uh, learning on this visit. 😉 Peanuts are great, but let’s face it, if you combine them with sugar (cane), you’ll be in for a tasty treat! That’s what we did when we studied the two major cash crops of Senegal. Check out Cultures of the World: Senegal from your local library to learn more. In fact, it’s a whole series of books that covers many other countries as well. And then, watch this video (it’s subtitled) to find out more about sugar cane.

It’s so easy to make these Sugared Peanuts, you would’ve wished you tried it sooner!

This is how it turned out when we made this yummy snack. The smell alone made our mouths water!

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Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Part 4 of our “We Went to Africa” series tomorrow when we cover the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso!

Blessings,

Courtney

P.S. Don’t be a straggler! Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you’re playing catch up. See ya tomorrow! 👋🏽

We Went to Africa – Travel Series! (Part 2)

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We. Went. To. Africa…Part 2!

Ready for more travel and fun? Last week, we found ourselves traveling through three neighboring countries in East Africa: Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. What a time we had sight seeing, tasting good eats and exploring! This week, we’re in for another great time as we move north to Egypt, Sudan and Libya. Grab your walking shoes and passports and let’s go!

Part 2: Egypt, Sudan and Libya

Day #1 – Egypt

Time Hop Time!

If you’re looking to make your way through ancient Egypt, you’re going to want to take this with you as you explore. African Beginnings, by James Haskins and Kathleen Benson, is your one-stop shop guide to the ancient world. Look to pages 11 & 13 for pointers on how to navigate a place with such rich history.

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 The Land of the Pharaohs

Egypt, by far, was one of the most exciting lands in ancient history for me to learn about when I was a kid. The majesty of their Pharaohs always intrigued me. That’s why it was so much fun to introduce my own children to some of these rulers.

Did you know there was one in particular who’s “Pharaoh-ship” caused quite a stir?

Whatcha Writing?!

Hieroglyphics were always a wondrous mystery to me. This incredible writing system of symbols can be understood a little more clearly after you see this:

But if mummies aren’t your thing, check out Nat Geo Kids for more current news and information.

Bonus Adventure

The Day of Ahmed’s Secret, by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland, was a real page turner as we couldn’t wait to find out what he was keeping secret throughout his busy day.

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Day #2 – Sudan

  Let’s Go Sight Seeing!

Tag along with us as we piggy back with another traveler to see breathtaking sights! Believe it or not, there may be some pyramid sightings around here as well. 😉

The Land of the Black People and Other Facts

In this video, you’ll hear someone from Sudan set the record straight about her country. Check it out, you may be surprised by what you hear!

Travel Guide

The people of Sudan have withstood years of struggle, from which many stories of hope have been birthed. In the book Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, by Mary Williams, you’ll find just that.

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Tired yet? Sabeel!

The people of Sudan are known for their gestures of kindness. The tradition of Sabeel, the offering of water to passers-by and those in mourning, is further explained here:

http://www.our-africa.org/sudan/sabeel

Day #3 – Libya

What to do?

Yay! You made it! Welcome to Libya! We really enjoyed ourselves when we went and I know you will too. First up, here’s a creative craft to celebrate some national pride. See how egg cartons can be transformed into the Libyan flag.

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Travel Guide

The book, Peoples of Africa: People of North Africa, by the Diagram Group, is an insiders guide to the unique people groups who make up the region of North Africa. Grab this from your local library to make your who’s who list of the people of North Africa. Heads up, it may be a little dense for younger ages. But there are some pretty cool pictures and facts you can still check out. Being a mother of two girls, the section on hair styles was especially a hit!

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Grab a snack!

We ended our time in Libya, in our own kitchen, by making a traditional food enjoyed here. Make sure you wear an apron when you make this Ftaat bread because you’re sure to get messy!

I included a video below of my girls whipping it up themselves. It was very yummy. I thought it tasted like a pancake…Mmmm!

Making Ftaat Bread!

Apologies in advance if you don’t have Facebook. Because, as we were making it, I pulled out my phone and recorded it on FB live. So if you don’t have Facebook, you may not be able to view it. 😦

But here’s some pics of the final tasting. They had a blast!

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Alas, we’ve come to our final day in North Africa, but don’t worry, we’ll be back for more next week. We’ll be traveling to West Africa! Stay tuned to see what we did in Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Ghana and more! You may want to rest up because we’ll be moving fast to cover lots of ground. 😉

Thanks for reading and if you haven’t done so already, why don’t you hit that “follow button” so you can get the latest posts and updates. Go ahead, I know ya wanna! 😉

Blessings,

Courtney