An Introduction to

Counting in Swahili

Author: Kelly McGregor

Grade level: Primary grades


Students will create and illustrate individual books that will aide them in learning to count 1-10 in Swahili.


  • Moja Means One by Muriel Feelings
  • A world map
  • A 12 page mini-book with the basic shape of Africa on the cover for each child (need directions - click here)
  • Artistic supplies (markers, crayons, colored pencils).


40 minutes to 1 hour


1. Introduce the concept that many different languages are spoken around the world. Ask the children if they know of some different languages that are spoken in other parts of the world.


2. Show the class the cover of the book. Explain that through this book the students will learn about one of the many languages spoken in eastern Africa - Swahili. On a world map, point out to the kids where east Africa is opposed to where they live. Present the kids with general background information about Swahili.


3. Read the book aloud to the class. As you read the book, say each number aloud then have the students repeat it. Talk about the illustrations and discuss what clues they give us about life in east Africa. Before turning each page review and repeat the numbers.


4. Write the number names on the board. As a class practice counting 1-10 in Swahili. (Vary this activity by counting objects or children in the room. Can the students count backwards? Can they count by two's?...) To reinforce the concept that Swahili is one of the east African languages, ask the students where in the world people use this language most. Ask for a volunteer to point to Africa on a world map. Have the other kids raise their hand if the volunteer pointed to the correct place.


5. Instruct the kids to create a book that will help them remember how to count 1-10 in Swahili. Direct them to put all of the attributes of a book in their individual mini-book including: (a) title page, (b) author's name, and (c) a picture clue with the correct number of objects, to help them remember each number. (The picture clues can be taken from either their own or east African culture.)


Assess the children's original books to make sure that there is a title page, author's name, and each Swahili number is written correctly with a picture clue given to aide the reader in remembering that number.

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