Units on African-American Culture
Title by Mike McDermott
Art DramaExperiencesLiteratureListening
Social StudiesSpeakingScienceTechnologyWriting

Cooperative LearningDiscovery CenterEvaluationsStrategies


Classroom environment:

Bulletin Board
Title: Amazing Diversity
Grade: 4th (Day 1)
Materials: Bulletin Board, Books (check book list at end of lesson plans) Character
Time: 30 minutes
Objective: Students will become familiar with some of the different characters from
African American fairy tales.
Pre-lesson: Introduce the bulletin board as the center for beginning African- American Month.
Lesson: Pass out different characters that are from different tales in stories. These characters are found in the handout "Hats off to African Tales." Have the students color the characters and pin them on the board when they are done.
Post-lesson: Encourage the students to become familiar with these characters in the different books provided on the display table.
Assessment: Observation

Title: A Story, A Story...
Grade: 4th (Day 2)
Materials: Book A Story, A Story: An African Tale by Gail Haley.
Time: 20 minutes
Objective: The students will read A Story, A Story: An African Tale by Gail E. Haley.
Pre-lesson: Introduce the author Gail E Haley and pass out books to each student.
Lesson: Go around the room asking each student to read aloud a piece from the story.
Post-lesson: Ask questions about the story and provide some insight on why Gail E. Haley might have wrote this story.
Assessment: Observation

Title: Be your Own Author
Grade: 4th (Day 3)
Materials: Paper, Pencil
Time: 40 minutes
Objective: The students will develop a sense of creativity and develop a different ending to A Story, A Story: An African Tale.
Pre-lesson: Instruct the students to start thinking of different possibilities to changing the end of the story.
Lesson: Have the students write a paper changing the ending completely from the original story.
Post-lesson: Have each student present the end of their own stories and hand them in.
Assessment: Observation of writing. Grade assignment

Title: An American Legend
Grade: 4th (Day 4)
Materials: Book John Henry, An American Legend by Ezra Jack Keats
Time: 30 minutes
Objective: The students should be able to understand the legend of John Henry and develop critical listening skills.
Pre-lesson: Ask the students if they know of any legends. Introduce the legend of John Henry.
Lesson: Read to the students, John Henry, an American Legend.
Post-lesson: Ask specific questions about the story. Provide time for comments.
Assessment: Give a short quiz on the legend of John Henry.

Title: African Haiku’s
Grade: 4th (Day 5)
Materials: Pencil, paper
Time: 40 minutes
Objective: Students will be able to write Haiku’s about African American fairy tale
Pre-lesson: Introduce the students to Haiku’s. The first sentence contains five syllables.
The second sentence contains seven syllables and the third five again.
Lesson: Have the students write a Haiku about their favorite fairy tale character.
Post-lesson: Have the students read aloud their Haiku’s.
Assessment: Observation and assessment of the writings.

Title: A Storyteller’s Hat
Grade: 4th (Day 6)
Materials: Worksheet from "Hats off to African Tales," colors, markers, scissors
Time: 25 minutes
Objective: Students will make their own African-American storyteller hat.
Students will be able to understand and explain the story they created.
Pre-lesson: Ask if anyone remembers different stories that have been read in previous days. For example, A Story, A Story: An African Tale by Gail E. Haley.
Lesson: Instruct the students to draw and design their own hats with characters, scenes or out of the ordinary pieces throughout the book.
Post-lesson: Have each kid explain what they put on their hat as well as how it pertains to the story.
Assessment: Observe the individual "storytelling’s."

Title: How far did she go?
Grade: 4th (Day 7)
Materials: Pencil, paper, maps of the underground railroad
Time: 40 min.
Objective: Students will be able to calculate the distance Harriet Tubman traveled each
time she went back for slaves.
Pre-lesson: Introduce Harriet Tubman. Ask questions about who she was and what she
Lesson: Map out the route in which Harriet traveled. Ask the students to measure the distance on the map for one trip.
Post-lesson: Ask the students how many miles she would have traveled on her fifth trip...tenth trip, etc.
Assessment: Ask the students what they received for answers on each of the different questions. Have them do their calculations on the board.

Title: "Quavi, Quavi"
Grade: 4th (Day 8)
Materials: Fruits native to Africa. The lyrics to "Quavi, Quavi" from song book Shake Sugaree (purchased from Music for Little People. 1-800-727-2233)
Time: 30 min.
Objective: Students will become familiar with the song "Quavi, Quavi" and be able to sing
Pre-lesson: Introduce the African fruits and explain that the fruit peddlers from Gambia
sing a song called "Quavi, Quavi."
Lesson: The students will then sing the lyrics while dancing to the song. Trading gestures
with eating of the fruits can also accompany.
Post-lesson: Arrange for students to "peddle" their fruit leftovers to a neighboring class
as they sing "Quavi, Quavi."
Assessment: Observation, assessed on cooperation.

Social Studies, Technology, Research, and Speaking
Title: Africa, Land of Diversity
Grade: 4th
Materials: Library, Books, Newspapers, Computer, Maps, paper, pencil
Time: 5 days (Day 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
Objective: The students will understand where their individual country is in Africa. The
students will be able to present a 2 page report on their country’s
characteristics (crops grown, natives, major cities, geography, etc.) *no
The students will then prepare a short speech about their country.
Pre-lesson: Each student will pick or be assigned a African country. They will then be
able to go to the library and research their country. Ask them to include in
their reports, mountains, rivers, deserts, and lakes.
Lesson: After amassing different facts about their countries have the students start to
organize a outline. After the outline have them write out their final draft.
Post-lesson: Have the students give a short presentation about one or two major things
they thought were interesting about their country.
Assessment: K-W-L strategy

Title: Scary Snakes
Grade: 4th
Materials: Pictures, slides or movie about the snakes of Africa
Time: 40 minutes (Day 14)
Objective: Students will be able to identify two of the snakes that live in Africa.
Pre-lesson: Ask the students if they know any snakes that inhabit Africa. Introduce and lecture on some of the snakes that live in Africa.
Lesson: Have them watch a video or presentation on snakes of Africa.
Post-lesson: Have the students write down two snakes native to Africa and hand them in.
Assessment: Assess papers

Title: Live at Channel 5
Grade: 4th
Materials: Playscript, video camera
Time: 2 days (Day 15, 16)
Objective: The students will be able to identify the Emancipation Proclamation.
Pre-lesson: The students will be divided up into characters, set designers, and news
Lesson: The student reporters will be live on the air back in time. The setting will be just
outside the U.S. Capitol as if the story just broke on Emancipation Proclamation
freeing black slaves. Live interviews with Abe Lincoln, ruined slave owners, and
freed slaves.
Post-lesson: The students will present their video tape to other classes.
Assessment: Observation, Participation, Tested

Title: African Tales
Grade: 4th
Materials: Books from booklist
Time: 40 minutes (Day 17)
Objective: Students will become familiar with certain authors who write books on African
American Fairy Tales.
Pre-lesson: Students will be allowed to go to the library and choose a book from the
booklist to read.
Lesson: Students will then be given time when they return to read their book.
Post-lesson: Have the students give a short lesson on what they read.
Assessment: Observation

Field Trip
Title: Zoo’s are Cool
Grade: 4th
Materials: none
Time: 2 Days (Day 18, 19)
Objective: Students will be able to identify animals native to Africa.
Pre-lesson: Students will load a bus for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.
Lesson: Take a tour of the zoo and be sure to identify those animals from Africa.
Post-lesson: Provide a quiz on the way home to have the students pick out pictures of
animals native to Africa.
Assessment: Observation, Cooperation


A Story, A Story; An African Tale
by Gail Haley

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughter: An African Tale
by John Steptoe

How many Spots Does a Leopard Have?
by Julius Lester

How the Giraffe got such a Long Neck-and Why Rhino is so Grumpy
by Michael Rosen

Dancing Granny and Other African Stories
by Ashley Bryan

Tales from the Story Hat
(Coward-McCann, 1960)

More Tales from the Story Hat
(Coward-McCann, 1966)

Tales from the Third Ear
by Verna Aardema

Tales from an Ashanti Father
by Peggy Appiah

Anansi the Spider: A Tale from Ashanti
by Gerald McDermott

Anansi Finds a Fool: An a Ashanti Tale
by Verna Aardema and Bryna Waldman

Anansi Goes Fishing
by Eric Kimmel

The Tortoise and the Tree
by Janina Domanska

The Cat’s Purr
by Ashley Bryan

The Magic Tree
by Gerald McDermott

Our Global Village: Africa
by Nancy Klepper