Teaching about Africa: Where to start?

Some Foundational Reading



  • The “How Big is Africa?” Poster
    This poster, produced by the K-16 Education Program, offers an innovative and creative way to visualize the continent’s vastness, and thus, by extension, its significant diversity. It is accompanied by numerous lesson suggestions, which are tailored to elementary, middle, and high school grades.
  • What Continent is It? A powerpoint that helps your students uncover stereotypes they may hold about Africa using a simple photo viewing activity of Africa’s diverse places. The goal is for them to guess what continent it is. The answer is of course, that all of them are in Africa!
  • Bingo: The US-Africa Connections Worksheet
    This activity is designed for middle school students who focus on finding peers who can answer ‘yes’ to many of the Bingo sheet questions, and then uncover how elements of their daily lives–food, music, language, games, etc.–are all connected to Africa and/or the African diaspora. It is an excellent way to ‘bring Africa home’ for most students.



Excellent Videos

Chimamanda Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” Ted Talk (2009) – upper elementary, middle school and high school

An old, but still must-watch for educators and students alike. Adichie explains the importance of not relying on a single narrative to define any person, place, or culture. If excerpted, it can be appropriate for all ages. This talk should serve as the defining framework for why and how we should discuss area studies in the classroom.

Inside Africa (for elementary school), a 30-min documentary that introduces young learners to the continent’s diversity. This DVD is the only DVD on the market that provides elementary and lower middle school-aged students with an introduction to the diverse human and physical geographies and cultures of the African continent. The final section follows the lives of children in three countries, depicting both the diversity and the universality of childhood experiences. Inside Africa can be purchased for $49.95 (includes S&H). To purchase, click here.

What do we know about Africa (for middle school), a 30-min documentary that introduces middle school students to the continents’ diverse and interconnected resources and people. Inside Africa can be purchased for $49.95 (includes S&H). To purchase, click here.

Africa Straight Up (2012), a 28 min introductory video for middle-high school