Ways we are Alike/ Ways we are Different


Author: Molly Chidester

Grade Level: Early Elementary


Students will complete a chart comparing and contrasting African villages with their own communities.

Materials Needed:



1. Anticipatory set: Ask students to imagine a place such as the forests in which the Mbuti people live. Ask them to describe what people might do for work, play or school in an environment described to them. Students may suggest answers such as hunting, cooking singing, dancing and exploring.

2. Explain that the lesson will focus on the Mbuti and Fulani people. The class will learn about their style of living, their traditions and everyday life in these villages. Refer to Background Information and web sites provided above.

3. Have discussion on both villages, explaining some traditions, what they do for work, and what role men, women, girls and boys play in the villages. Discussion could include how both groups are nomadic. Explain that nomadic means that their homes are temporary and that they move whenever they need to find more food. Explain that Mbuti women spend their mornings and afternoons gathering food such as berries, roots and mushrooms while the men hunt for meat. Talk about the important role cattle play to the Fulani people and how the status of each man depends on how many cows he owns and how the woman's status depends on how many children she bares. Ask the class how an American's status is sometimes determined. Ask what role they play in their family and community.

4. After having a class discussion, divide the class into small groups of three of four students. Give them paper for a chart and then model on the board how they will use the chart to compare and contrast their own communities with the ones discussed(see example below). The chart will have two columns, one column titled as "Ways we are alike" and the other "Ways we are different". One example of a difference may be that Mbuti and Fulani people are nomadic while poeple in my community are not. The students should try to find four differences and one similarity.

5. Give each group a chance to share what they have written on their charts.

6. (optional)In their journals they may write about a typical day is if they were Mbuti or Fulani. They may also illustrate their writing.

7. At the conclusion of the activity talk about the importance of respecting different cultures and understanding that just because people do things differently from us, doesn't mean they are wrong.


1. To assess whether the students understand the differences and similarities between our culture and that of the Mbuti and Fulani, the students should have at least four differences and one similarity in on their charts.

Comparing and Contrasting Chart

Ways we are alike

Ways we are different

1. Both cultures like to play, sing and tell stories.

1. Mbuti and Fulani people are nomadic, I am not.

2. Mbuti people live in the forest, I live in the city.

3. Fulani and Mbuti people don't get their food at stores.

4. Fulani people raise lots of cattle our community doesn't