How Big is Africa? Poster & Lesson

Useful Map Tools to teach African Geography

  • National Geographic Map Maker offers an interactive online map that allows students to examine climate patterns, trace lines, circles and pin dots, overplayed onto a political map of Africa which can be adjusted by transparency. Teachers and students can save their work. Great for upper elementary, middle and high school students
  • Study Map a Creative Commons resources, is an interactive online tool that enables students to study the location of African countries and then test themselves
  • Seterra online geography games offer a number of online interactive games for students to learn African countries, capitals, and physical features such as rivers and bordering oceans. The country-naming games can be used at the early elementary level, and harder games to name capitals and cities can be played in upper elementary and middle school. Even high schoolers might enjoy this as a trivia game to refresh their memories about Africa geography.
  • ESRI’s ARC-GIS tool will be useful for younger and older audiences. Use it to color maps or to teach about cities, settlements, or nature-culture interactions. It was recently created (2020) to support teachers who want to increase students’ spatial thinking. Access the online map here. A 24 page pdf printable booklet is available and features a political map of Africa and a zoomable map of Freetown that can be useful for activities analyzing urban spaces.
  • QQuiz is an interactive map resource for young students that can be used to test their knowledge about the location of countries around the world through quizzes. This resource can be a learning tool for elementary, middle, and high school students to learn about the location of African countries and capitals.
  • AfricaMap: Explore demographics, linguistics, environment, climate, politics and much more in this interactive map created by Harvard University. You need to open an account with ESRI (free) to access this map.


  • A People First Google Earth Lesson Introducing the Geography of Africa in Key Concepts and Questions
    The goal of this resource is to activate students’ knowledge by providing an experiential understanding of select concepts in the physical geography of Africa. The presentation uses an inquiry-based approach to probe key understandings of the ways geography shapes human activity. The Google Earth presentation was designed to  address the types of questions that can be asked about concepts in the physical geography of Africa with the goal of building curiosity.
  • A Google Earth Lesson: The Geography of West Africa: Geo-Spatial Inquiry though a Historical Lens. This Google Earth presentation and accompanying instructions can help teachers introduce key geographical features of West Africa as they relate to the development of societies and empires in the area in medieval times. Guided by essential questions, the presentation supports student inquiry and critical thinking.
  • The Joola: The Geographical Dimensions of Africa’s Greatest Shipwreck
    Created by the ASC’s 2016 Fulbright-Hays participant Karen Barton, this interactive article explores the untold histories and legacies of the 2002 Joola shipwreck in Senegal, which killed an estimated 1,863 people. Despite more casualties than the Titanic, there has been no academic attention to the wide-reaching impact of the Joola. This article explores the incident through a geographic lens and by doing so, allows the traumatic event and the thousands of people affected to be adequately memorialized.
  • Ramadan Signs in Niamey, Niger: An Examination of an Urban Advertising Landscape by Sara Beth Keough, Ph.D, Department of Geography, Saginaw Valley State University. This interactive article looks at the billboard advertising landscape of Niamey during Ramadan 2017. These billboard advertisements began to appear about two weeks prior to the start of Ramadan and were displayed throughout the entire month. The advertisements covered a range of consumer products, such as food, clothing, cell phones and money transfers. What is striking about these signs was that in most cases the advertisements encouraged increased consumption of a particular product,  in contrast to the overall religious practices during Ramadan that emphasize reduction (of food, drink, and other things).
  • The Nile River Today – curriculum guide by Danielle Alli. This lesson explores the Nile River dispute. This was done as part of a larger unit exploring the geography of Africa and in preparation for a future unit on ancient Nubia. The intent was to engage the students in geography in a way that initiated discussion in the classroom and allowed for a student-centered learning model.
  • A series lesson by Deborah Johnston that support an overview of the continent What do we know about Africa?
  • Which Continent? Using Photos to Overcome Stereotypes. A creative lesson that showcases many pictures (all of various places in Africa), with the simple question for students: What continent is this? The answer for each picture is of course, Africa. Students preconceived ideas about  the continent often drive their answers, and this makes for a great opening activity to have a larger conversation about their assumptions.

    Historical Maps

    • The Afriterra Online Cartographic Library, located in Kenmore Square in Boston, a 5 minute-walk from the African Studies Center, boasts an impressive collection of original historical maps of Africa as well as many unique historical books and travel records. A large part of the collection of maps is available online, providing a rich archive of primary sources that are accessible remotely for the study of European imperialism, colonialism, and related topics. Using the built-in Zoomify technology, teachers and students can zoom in the maps to explore them at a granular level in order to bring out relevant details. Search their online catalog here.

    Short videos to show in class

    • The Relationship between Map Type and Social Justice – A Clip from The West Wing
      This short clip highlights the ways in which map projection type can affect our perceptions of other continents, countries, and cultures. In the clip, members of the Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality explain the value of using the Gall-Peters projection map (over the traditional Mercator projection) and encourage the fictional federal administration to support its adoption in schools nation-wide. This is a great way to start a conversation on unconscious bias in the classroom and explore the importance of geography in social justice-oriented teaching.