Learning to Swim in Swaziland


Author: Amanda McFarland

Grade Level: Early Elementary


1. Students will learn about everyday life in Swaziland and compare and contrast it to their own everyday life.
2. Students will be able to represent Cache Valley (or any other area) by showing what makes it unique from Swaziland


1. Map of World or Globe.
2. Copy of Learning to Swim in Swaziland by Nila K. Leigh
3. Lined poster paper
4. Markers
5. Paper for each child
6. Crayons and colored pencils

Anticipatory Set:

1. Tell students to pretend that they are leaving to go for a trip to live in Africa for one year. Ask them, "What things would you expect to be different than your home here? Write comments on poster paper of blackboard


1. Have a student come up to the map and point out where Swaziland is. It should be easy since the book is on the board with a string showing where it is. Still, this just points it out to students again.

2. Read from the children's book Learning to Swim in Swaziland to students. Before starting explain that a student not much older than them wrote it. Ask students to look and see if their expectations would be correct. Take a few comments on what ideas were incorrect.

3. After reading the book, explain that we are now going to find differences and similarities in where we live and where Nila visited. Encourage students to go beyond the obvious such as different clothes. Ask how they are different. If they say that the food was different ask them how it was different.

4. Have a large sheet of lined paper to write student's comments on what in the story was similar to Cache Valley and what was different.

5. First model a comment and then allow students to come up with their own.

6. Tell the students that the class will be writing their own book about Cache Valley. The purpose is to give students that might live in Swaziland an idea of what it is like here. They will be following some of the ideas of Nila. Each student can write one page. They should also include some illustrations.

Some things the students may want to write about are:

The money used
Schools (what we learn, who goes to school, what we wearÖ.)
Languages spoken
Games or sports

7. Give the students an example by making a page in front of the class.

In Cache Valley the main language spoken is English. Some people speak other languages like Spanish. This is how you count to ten in Spanish.

1. Uno
2. Dos
3. Tres
4. Cuatro
5. Cinco
6. Seis
7. Siete
8. Ocho
9. Nueve
10. Diez

8. Let the students have time to make their pages. As good examples are done show them to the class. Encourage students who say they cannot think of anything to either look through the book again or talk with their neighbors to come up with ideas.

9. After students are done collect the papers to compile. Once the book is finished the class can come up with a title.



Students will be evaluated on the responses they give after reading the book and the writing and pictures in the pages they make.

Do they give correct similarities and differences?
Do the pages they make represent Cache Valley correctly?



Students may spend another day creating their own books about Cache Valley just as was done in Learning to Swim in Swaziland.

Return to Index




Great Links for Teaching About Africa


Rural Swaziland as Nila Leigh knows it

by Amanda Morgan


Africa Online

Africa: It's Not A Country

lesson plans about Africa for early elementary grades


Africa and Us in Literature

this takes you to a list of children's literature that revolves around the theme of Africa