Sunday, February 9, 2014

Learning about Africa in Homeschool Kindergarten

This week our theme was "Africa".  I'd like to do some activities for Black History Month later in February, so I thought a good start would be to learn a little big about Africa first.  This involved a lot of crafts (like the African mask art pictured above) which the girls really enjoyed.  Here's more of what we did..

A hugely successful craft was making our own "African beads" out of Crayola Model Magic (I love this stuff because it is really easy for little hands to manipulate and will not break if it's dropped after drying).  The girls made balls and cylinders and put them on wooden skewers to dry.

By the next day, the beads were dry and the twins had a blast threading them to make their own necklaces...

Words can't express how excited the girls were to wear their own creations all week!

Another project that was a lot of fun was to weave blankets inspired by West African kente cloth.  I originally planned on doing this project using strips of paper, but decided to use felt instead, which made the girls feel very "grown up".  Instead of trying to teach the girls over-under for weaving, I found that it was easier to have them lift up every other vertical strip and then place a horizontal strip underneath.  They were able to work fairly independently on this after I showed them the technique.  The girls glues the edges of each strip down so the fabric doesn't come apart.

I pulled up some images of real kente cloth on my computer to inspire them as they used fabric markers to decorate their creations (the fabric markers are called "Stained by Sharpe" and I actually let my 4-year-olds use markers that have the word "stain" in the name.. don't tell my husband!).

I love the level of concentration that the girls put into this project.

The finished pieces were not only unique and beautiful, but were also highly functional doll quilts!

Instead of Handwriting Without Tears, the girls used Draw Write Now to draw African animals and copy sentences.

Didn't these turn out cute?  I have to admit that I had fun drawing the animals alongside the girls on my own paper - the instructions in the Draw Write Now series are really easy to follow.. even for a non-artist Mom like myself!

To go with our Africa theme, we read books about Africa like Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, Jungle Drums, and The Mighty Little Lion Hunter.  I also read them an ebook called African Bedtime Stories which had a little more violence than I'm used to in bedtime stories (probably due to the fact that African kids are not as coddled and overprotected as Western children).  The kids found a new favorite television series on Netflix called Tinga Tinga Tales, which are "just so" stories from Africa.  Whenever I tell them they've watched enough episodes they object with "but we're learning about Africa.. and you love school, Mom, remember?".  How can I argue with that?

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