Markets of Africa


Author: Melissa Nelson

Grade Level: Early Elementary



1. Students will be able to identify one advantage and one disadvantage to open air markets in Africa.



1. Pictures of African markets. Include pictures of market behavior, people (dress and customs), type of items displayed. (See picture above or References).

2. Market day clothing African people traditionally wear and what they use to carry their items to market - baskets, bowls. (See picture above or References).

3. Paper and paint, crayon, or markers for classroom mural.

4. Background Information.



1. Have on display for the children an example of market day clothing. Use pictures from references as a guide. Similar fabric may be found at any local fabric store.

2. Display pictures of African markets. What is happening in these different pictures? Explain they are illustrations of open air markets in Africa. Who can tell me what a market is? (A place with goods displayed which can be purchased). Describe the differences between a market in our culture (supermarket or farmer's market) and markets in Africa.

Create two columns and list the differences where children can see them. What kinds of things do you think you would find in an African market? (Background Information). Compare answers to what is sold in supermarkets in our community - have children volunteer answers (cereal, milk, eggs, fruit,...). Display the suggestions.

3. Talk about the purpose of markets in Africa. What is the need? Discuss the "market principle." Many items are traded in the markets, why don't they use money? (See Background Information).

4. Ask a parent(s) to help with this part: Role play two people bartering goods. Have this continue for a few minutes. Make sure children realize that the price in the beginning was not a set price. Another term used to barter is "haggle". Note the difference between supermarket prices (set, unchanging) and open air market prices (tend to fluctuate and change).

5. Discuss. Ask what some advantages and disadvantages to open air markets in Africa would be.

6. Have students create a mural on paper to be hung on the classroom wall. Measure wall for paper size. Lay paper on the floor so it is accessible for students. Have paint crayons, or markers available for children to use. Form several teams of children (3 or 4 children) to make a stand of something that would be sold at a open air market. First have them sketch the illustration on a smaller paper to use as a guide in creating the image on the larger paper. Let a couple teams work on mural at once, and let dry. Hang completed mural on classroom wall.



Have students make two columns in their journals (splitting the page in half). At the top of the first column, write "Advantages" and "Disadvantages" at the top of the other. Ask students to list what they can remember as an advantage to open air markets and a disadvantage. Students should have at least one item listed in each column, more is even better.

Some advantages: open and exciting, can buy and sell at the same time, prices aren't at a set rate, goods sold change - new things each time. Some disadvantages: weighing and measuring, policemen, money used. Advantages can be disadvantages and vice versa, depending on the person.



1. Africa and Africans: Third Edition : Paul Bohannan and Philip Curtin, Waveland Press, Inc. (1988) -also Africa and Africans : a new and revised edition - Paul Bohannan and Philip Curtin. (1971)

(Picture Books):

2. Let's Visit North Africa : Frances Wilkins, Burke Publishing Co.

3. Tintin's Travel Diaries: Africa : Daniel De Bruyker and Maximilien Dauber, Barron's Education Series, Inc.

4. Hausaland: The Fortress Kingdoms : (The kingdoms of Africa) : Phillip Koslow, Chelsea House Publishers

5. People's and Nations of Africa : Sheila Fairfield, Gareth Stevens, Inc.

6. African Journey : John Chiasson, Bradbury Press


7. HTTP://




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