African Savannah


Curriculum Developer: Kristin Wright


Book Title: Greedy Zebra

Author: Mwenye Hadithi

Publisher and Date: Little, Brown and Co., 1984

Summary: Folk tale - Long ago all the animals were dusty gray with no beautiful coats. Then a cave appeared in Africa and all the animals made coats. Greedy Zebra, however, didn't stop eating in time to get a beautiful coat. He only got black strips of material. He sewed them into a coat, but the coat was too small, so when he tried to put it on, the seams burst and his white stomach showed in between the strips.

Social Studies Relevance: This book can be used in teaching about the African Savannah because it takes place in the Savannah. It is also a good book to use in studying folk tales and what we can learn about cultures by their folklore.


Book Title: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

Author: Verna Aardema

Publisher and Date: The Dial Press, 1981

Summary: Folk tale - Ki-pat looks after a thirsty herd of cows during the dry season on the Savannah. He makes a bow and arrow and shoots the dark thunder cloud in the sky to make it rain. The grass grows and the cows get fat.

Social Studies Relevance: This book contains pictures that show what the Savannah is like. The story and pictures can be used to study the weather, geographic features, and natural resources of the Savannah and how the people live there.


Book Title: Masai and I

Author: Virginia Kroll

Publisher and Date: Four Winds Press, 1992

Summary: A girl who lives in the city learns about the Masai people and compares her day to what a Masai's day would be like. She notes the differences between her day and a Masai's day, but in the end she realizes she loves her family, just as a Masai girl would love her own family.

Social Studies Relevance: This book is good to use to show students how to compare communities. It teaches that there are both similarities and differences between communities' life styles.


Grade Level Focus: 1-2 grades

Relationship to Social Studies State Core:

* Identify geographic features, climatic conditions, and natural resources.

* Compare similarities and differences among communities.

* Demonstrate how geographic features, climatic conditions, and natural resources influence how people live.

* Identify the meaning of symbols on simple picture maps.

* Identify the directions of north and south.

* Participate in group charts.

* Find the directions of north, south, east, and west on a map.

* Describe how geographic features vary in different communities.

Lesson Plan 1

Title: Mapping the African Savannah

Objectives: * Students will be able to make a map of the African Savannah, including a key with symbols for desert, Savannah, and rain forest, and a compass rose.

Materials: Greedy Zebra, map worksheet (see appendix), "A" encyclopedias or maps of Africa.


1. Tell class to listen to the story and look closely at the pictures to see if they can figure out where the story takes place (the setting).

2. Read Greedy Zebra.

3. Let the class figure out that the story takes place in Africa. Then explain that the setting is the African Savannah.

4. Explain that Savannah is another name for grasslands. It is a place with a lot a tall grass and very few trees. It doesn't get much rainfall.

5. Tell the class they will be making a map of the African Savannah. Show them the map worksheet.

6. Model how to make the map.

Explain that the compass rose shows north, south, east, and west. Show how to look at a map in an encyclopedia to find the directions. Draw a compass rose in the circle in the bottom right corner of the map worksheet. Show the class what it should look like.

Explain that a map key tells what the symbols on the map mean. Look at a map of Africa in an encyclopedia to figure out where the desert, Savannah, and rain forest are. The top section of the worksheet map is desert. The little section on the west coast is rain forest. The little section at the bottom is desert. The large middle section is Savannah. Color desert, Savannah, and rain forest three different colors. The students may choose whatever colors they want on their worksheets. Show how to make each color be a symbol in the key by coloring each square in the key a different color. Write what each symbol means (ex: red = desert).

Check for understanding: Ask the students what they are going to do. They should know that they are supposed to color the map and complete the key and compass rose. They should also know that they are coloring different colors for the desert, Savannah, and rain forest.

Hand out map worksheets and put the encyclopedias or maps in a place where students can use them. Let the students work on the worksheets, providing help when needed.

Evaluation: Examine the worksheets for accurate placement of north, south, east, and west on the compass rose, and for a key that shows color symbols for the desert, Savannah, and rain forest.

Lesson Plan 2

Title: Living in the Savannah

Objectives: * Students will participate in carousel brainstorming to make lists of natural resources and ways the people use the resources on the Savannah. They will compare the Savannah resources with those we have here in Utah.

Materials: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain (multiple copies if possible), tape, colored markers, chart paper with the following titles on the top: natural resources in the Savannah, things people make with the Savannah resources, natural resources in Utah, things we make with Utah resources.


1. Before class, tape the charts to the walls in different corners of the room. Make them low enough so that the students can reach them.

2. Explain that natural resources are things we can find in nature that we use to make things. Natural resources include rocks, minerals, plants, and animals. Give examples such as trees for houses, cotton for clothes, and cows for meat.

3. Tell class to listen and watch as the teacher reads the book for natural resources found in the African Savannah.

4. Read Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.

5. Explain to class that they will be put into groups. Each group will be given a colored marker and will go to one corner of the room. They will work as a group to think of as many things as possible that would go on that chart. Read the charts to the class. After a minute, they will be instructed to move around the room to the next chart and add ideas to that one. They cannot write anything that another group has already written on that chart. They may look at Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain for ideas.

6. Check for understanding. Ask the students what they will be doing in each corner.

7. Assign students to groups of about five. Then assign each group to a corner of the room. Give each group a different color of marker.

8. Tell the groups to begin. When the teacher thinks the students have had enough time to brainstorm, (but not exhaust all ideas) and write on the chart, tell the groups to rotate to the next chart.

9. When all the groups have written all the charts, have them return to the corner in which they started.

10. Have each group take a turn to tell the rest of the class three important things on the chart in their corner.

11. Discuss with the class how the resources of the Savannah and Utah are different from each other. (Our houses are made of different things, we eat different things, etc.)

Evaluation: Observation of students' contributions to the charts. They should all participate. Evaluate whether or not the students' contributions were accurate according to Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain. Also observe students' participation in the end discussion. Make note of students who seem to have trouble coming up with ideas or working with the group.

Lesson Plan 3

Title: Folk tales

Objectives: * Students will orally share what they can learn about cultures from folk tales. Students will write folk tales based on things in their own lives.

Materials: Greedy Zebra, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, lined paper.


1. Show the books to the class. Tell them both books are folk tales. Folk tales are written by people to explain things they see around them. They are usually about animals. Folk tales answer why or how questions like, "How did the elephant get a long trunk?" Ask students what questions these books answered. They should say "how the zebra got stripes" and "how it rained on Kapiti Plain."

2. Guided discussion/brainstorming - Ask, "What kinds of things can we tell about the people on the Savannah from these folk tales?" Write the responses on the left side of the chalkboard. Possible answers include: kinds of houses, what they do for a living, what animals they see, what plants they see, what kind of weather they live in, how they dress, and what is important to them.

3. Tell students they will get to write their own folk tales. Based on their ideas, have the students brainstorm things that they could write about from their lives. Prompts: "What is the weather like here? What animals do you see? What plants can you find here?" Write the responses in the middle of the chalkboard (Ex: windy, hot, deer, robin, skunk, bear, pine tree).

4. Make a list on the right side of the board of possible writing topics using the students' brain stormed ideas. (Ex: Why does the wind always blow in Logan? Why does the robin have a red breast? Why does the pine tree stay green all year? How did the deer get antlers? Why does the bear only have a short tail?)

5. Tell the students to each pick a topic to write about. Send the class back to their desks and pass out lined paper.

6. Help the students with ideas and spelling as necessary.

7. Let the students share their stories with the class if they want.

Evaluation: Observe students' contributions to discussion. Make sure that their ideas on what we can learn from people by their folk tales are appropriate. Read finished student folk tales to make sure they all answer a why or how question. Make anecdotal records of those who have difficulty with the assignment.

Lesson Plan 4

Title: Comparing Communities

Objectives: * Students will compare similarities and differences among communities. Students will complete a data retrieval chart to include type of home, type of bed, animals, transportation, and family members for Masai, Linda's community in Masai and I, and the students' community.

Materials: Multiple copies of Masai and I, data retrieval worksheet (see Appendix).


1. Have students recall Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain and what the people did (lived in small huts, herded cows).

2. Show the book, Masai and I. Tell the class this book is about the Masai people. Masai people live in small huts and herd cows just like Ki-pat in Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.

3. Tell students the story is about a girl who lives in a city. The girl compares her life to the Masai life. Tell the class to listen for differences between what the girl does and what the Masai people do.

4. Read Masai and I.

5. Explain the worksheet. Students will write answers in the appropriate boxes on the worksheet for type of home, type of bed, animals, transportation, and family members for the girl in the story, Masai, and themselves. Do the first row, "type of home" as a class. (Girl = apartment, Masai = hut, me = house or apartment.)

6. Hand out worksheets. Make the copies of Masai and I available to the students to find the answers.

7. Help the students find answers as needed.

8. Discuss as a class the similarities and differences the students found between the Masai, Linda, and themselves.

Evaluation: Examine the completed worksheets for correct responses in each box.