Teaching about Africa: Where to start?

Some Foundational Reading

  • Principles to Teach about Africa
    A list of key pedagogical concepts and questions that a teacher must ask in preparation for teaching most topics, but especially history and geography.
  • Teaching African History and Cultures across the Curriculum Edutopia article (2020) A useful article for repositioning Africa’s central place in world history and cultivating reverence and respect for the continent’s diversities.
  • Podcast: What Teachers Need to Know – Africa Edition
    Developed by Primary Source in collaboration with Boston University’s African Studies Center, the podcast series offers key insights for understanding history, politics, and culture on the continent. In each episode, meet subject-matter experts and teachers who talk about their best approaches for teaching about Africa. Accompanying online resources support further examination of the complexity of various aspects of the continent in K-12 classrooms.
  • Introducing Africa in Elementary School – A set of lessons and approaches to discuss common themes in the classroom.



  • 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.
  • Building Identity and Community with Adinkra Stamps
    Begin the year with this activity to get to know your students and build community, by teaching Adinkra symbols from West Africa, and discuss their meaning to affirm individual student’s personal lives.



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