An Introduction to the African Plains Using:

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

Written by

Verna Aardema

Published by Puffin Pied Piper, 1981


Curriculum Developer: Sandy Curtis

Summary: This is an old African folktale about a herdsman named Ki-pat. Ki-pat needs rain for the grass to grow, so his cows do not die. Ki-pat makes a bow and arrow and shoots the arrow into the black rain cloud. The arrow helps to change the weather so the grass can grow and the cows can live.

Social Studies Relevance: This book has relevance to several areas of social studies. It deals with family, weather, and the flora and fauna of the African Plains. This book has a wonderful rhyme and lends itself nicely to choral reading.

Grade Level Focus: 1st and 2nd grade

Relationship to Social Studies State Core:

*Identify examples of how individuals learn from family, school and neighborhood.

*Identify the geographic features, climatic conditions, and natural resources of the local area.

*Recall facts from stories or reports.

*Define scarcity, and identify items that are scarce in the classroom.

*Identify resources that are used to make the things we need or want.

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

*Identify cultural traits and values that are inherited and acquired; i.e., family, religious, and cultural traditions, physical characteristics, etc.

*Describe how geographic features vary in communities.

*Explain that some needs may not be satisfied.


Introduction to the Plains

Subject Area(s): Plains and Mapping Skills

Grade Level: 1st to 2nd


Materials: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, script for choral reading, map of Africa, world globe, crayons or colored pencils.


  1. The sound of thunder is playing and the teacher walks in saying, "It looks like rain. I better get my umbrella. It looks like rain." The sound of rain is playing and the teacher says, "Sure enough, I better get my umbrella."
  2. Tell the students to look for animals and plants in the book and how they benefit humans before reading Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.
  3. Read the story.
  4. After reading the story, locate on the globe the African Plains.
  5. Have the students recall the plants and animals on the African Plains that benefit humans. Make a web with humans in the center and the plants and animals that humans uses for their benefit, as the outlying structure of the web.
  6. The teacher will have previously made a map of Africa. Hand out a map of Africa to each student.
  7. Have the students color in the African Plains, showing a tree and at least two animals from the book that benefit humans.
  8. Hand out the script for the choral reading. The script is included in the appendix.
  9. There are eight separate and one group part. Assign two or three students to each part. Everyone does the shot part. Do the choral reading. Follow the pattern of the story, it starts with the narrator and then goes to clouds, grass and then back to clouds. The pattern continues until the whole story is finished, with the 2nd time narrator ending the story

Evaluation: Students will complete their map by coloring in the grasslands, at least one tree and two animals that benefit humans. Students will actively participate in the choral reading.



Subject Area(s): Plains and Zulu Culture

Grade Level: 1st to 2nd


Materials Needed: Guest speaker from Zulu or a country that lies in the savannas of Africa (note that the Zulu culture is known for it's beautiful beadwork), grid or graph paper for beadwork, crayons or colored pencils, yarn.


Background information: When asking the guest to come and explain their culture, be sure they explain the value of the beads. The beads are used to show love, happiness, jealously and loneliness. Beads hung on safety pins are called Zulu Love Tokens. The Samburu and Massai of Kenya, and Tanzania also make beadwork that represents marital status, elder or priest, and social status. The beadwork is made using glass beads.

  1. Invite a guest speaker from Zulu to discuss the values and traditions of their culture. Have the guest speaker bring beadwork and explain the importance of beadwork to their culture. You may want to have the students think of questions ahead of time to ask the guest speaker, after they have given their presentation.
  2. Hand out the grids and have the guest speaker guide the students in making a sample beadwork, representing the values in the guest's culture. For example, red beads might represent a single woman in the Zulu culture. The grid should be five, one-quarter inch squares by twelve, one-quarter inch squares.

Evaluation: Students will identify at least two characteristics of the guest's culture with a classmate. The teacher walks around listening for the two characteristics the students are sharing. Students will make a sample beadwork and explain one representative value to the class.



Subject Area(s): African Culture

Grade Level: 1st to 2nd


Materials Needed: Questions for students to use for interview, paper and pencil.


  1. Give the students a list of questions to ask someone who has visited or lived in a country in the savannas of Africa. Here is a list of some countries in the savannas of Africa: Kenya, Sudan, Zaire, Tanzania, Uganda, and Angola. If the students cannot find someone from one of the countries in Africa, the teacher may need to prearrange for an interviewee. Here are some sample questions that you might want to include:
    1. a) What country are you from?

      b) What is the weather like in your country? ( Instead of country, the student includes the name of the country )

      c) What are your houses made of?

      d) What are some natural resources found in your country?

      e) What do you think is special about your country?

      f) If someone asked you for advice about what to see when they travel to Africa, what would you tell them?

      g) What are the schools like in your country or town?

      h) Tell me one important thing to know about your culture.

  2. Students will orally present the information from the interview to the class.

Evaluation: The students will make an oral presentation to the class. They will share at least four of the answers to their questions.


The Effects of Weather on the Population in the Savannas of Africa

Subject Area(s): Population, vegetation, and weather

Grade Level: 1st to 2nd


Materials Needed: Pictures of Africa, pencil and paper, population facts of Africa, 3" x 5" cards. The teacher may want to refer to encyclopedias, "Ranger Ricks," "Zoo Books," "National Geographic," and other references for pictures and other information on population facts in Africa.


  1. Inquiry with pictures. Divide the students into preselected groups of four and give each group three or four pictures of the savannas of Africa. Have each group identify the types of vegetation and weather from the pictures.
  2. Each group will share the information they have on the types of vegetation and weather with the class.
  3. Explain to the students Africa is warm year round. The savannas have two seasons, rain and no rain. Since the savannas receive up to forty inches of rain, the vegetation is adapted to the weather. There are very few tress and the savannas are mostly covered with grass. There is little other vegetation because of the lack of year round rain. The grass has roots that can extend for miles.
  4. The teacher guides a discussion on why the weather affects the population of towns and cities in Africa. People need water to live and this has a major impact on the survival of humans. The most inhabited regions are along the Nile, Niger, Congo and Senegal river basin, the northern and western coast region of the continent, with Nigeria being the most inhabited. These places have access to water for the survival of humans in these regions. These regions are areas where grains, dates, olives and citrus fruits can be grown. Without proper rain, the crops to sustain life cannot be grown.
  5. Have each group write one important fact they learned on a 3" x 5" card. They then give the card to another group and see what new information they can learn from the other group. Continue this until all cards have been shared.

Evaluation: Each group will write one important fact they learned about Africa on a 3" x 5" card and exchange it with another group. The teacher walks around making sure the information being written and exchanged is correct.




Script for Choral Reading of

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

Adapted by Sandy Curtis

Narrator: This is the great Kapiti Plain, All fresh and green from the African rains- A sea of grass for the birds to nest in, And patches of shade for wild creatures to rest in; With acacia trees for giraffes to browse on, And grass for the herdsmen to pasture their cows on.

But one year the rains were so very belated, That all of the big wild creatures migrated. Then Ki-pat helped to end that terrible drought- And this story tells how it all came about!

1st time Clouds: This is the cloud all heavy with rain, that shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.

2nd time Clouds: The big black cloud all heavy with rain, that shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.

1st time Grass: This is the grass all brown and dead, that needed the rain from the cloud overhead.

2nd time Grass: To green-up the grass all brown and dead, that needed the rain from the cloud overhead.

1st time Cows: These are the cows, all hungry and dry, who mooed for the rain to fall from the sky

2nd time Cows: Ki-pat, whose cows were so hungry and dry, they mooed for the rain to fall from the sky

1st time Ki-pat: This is Ki-pat who watched his herd as he stood on one leg, like the big stork bird.

2nd time Ki-pat: It fell near Ki-pat, who watched his herd as he stood on one leg, like the big stork bird.

1st time Eagle: This is the eagle who dropped a feather, a feather that helped to change the weather

2nd time Eagle: From the eagle who happened to drop a feather, a feather that helped to change the weather

1st time Arrow: This is the arrow Ki-pat put together, with a slender stick and an eagle feather

2nd time Arrow: A bow for the arrow Ki-pat put together, with a slender stick and an eagle feather.

1st time Bow: This is the bow so long and strong, and strung with a string, a leather thong.

2nd time Bow: A shot from the bow, so long and strong and strung with a string a leather thong.

1st time Shot everyone: This was the shot that pierced the cloud and loosed the rain with thunder LOUD!

2nd time Narrator: So the grass grew green, and the cattle fat! And Ki-pat got a wife and a little Ki-pat. Who tends the cows now and shoots down the rain, when black clouds shadow Kapiti Plain.