Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Africa Unit Study Wrap Up

Living in Tanzania, it is only fair that my class has spent the last month doing a thorough study of the continent of Africa.  For our primary base, we used a Lapbook on Africa (, which was a good point to start on a lot of things. Now naturally, being here, we have a lot of resources, and I finally got to use the things around us to have a great time studying Africa.

  • African Peanut Stew
-the kitchen ladies taught us to make us a great peanut stew, similar to the one here:

  • Bao (Mancala)
-Our very own Naomi taught us a classic Tanzanian schoolyard game (known as Mancala in a lot of places, but Bao here). My favorite moment of her teaching was when she nonchalantly grabbed a machete from the guard here and began hacking at the dirt to make the divets.   Rules for this version can be found here:

  • Tinga Tinga Art
-This was probably our favorite part of the study, where we spent a whole morning painting our own Tinga Tinga paintings under Kimambo, a local artist. He drew the outlines of the animals, and then the students painted the details. For those who don’t have access to an excellent Tinga Tinga artist, there’s a cool video example of the style here:

  • Lake Chala
-Since our science study was on the biome of the grasslands, we went to our local grasslands to sketch and take pictures.  It’s summer here, and it was a blisteringly hot day, but we swam down at the lake too, watching from the cool water as monkeys swung through the trees nearby.

  • Weaving
-We got to do a couple field trips during this unit study, and one of them was visiting a lady who does weaving here locally. She was super friendly, and walked us through the whole process of weaving thread into a beautiful cloth. It takes hours to wind the bobbins, not to even mention the days it takes to make a bolt of cloth. She sells her work, but I’m not sure how she lives by selling each bolt of fabric (many days’ work) for 100,000 ($60). Her assistant let us try to get the rhythm of working the machine with all its pedals and handles – it was not easy!  His rhythm and speed were incredible on this homemade machine crafted all from wood and old bicycle parts.

  • Geography Game
-My Father’s World curriculum comes with maps for a Geography Game, which aids in learning the names and locations of all the countries of the world. My students love this game, and are so competitive I have to tell them sometimes that if they don’t chill out about mistaking Namibia for Angola, we’ll have to stop playing. You would think they were winning a million shillings instead of a piece of gum, from the way they play. Essentially the game uses a map of a continent with numbered countries, and cards with country names. You draw a card and have to guess the number on the map.  If you guess correctly, you get to put a marker on that country.  If you don't, you lose your turn.  The first one to get to a certain number of markers wins.

Fun study! On to Saudi Arabia!

Friday, February 22, 2013

What a Difference a Few Months Makes!

On Friday, I took my class to Lake Chala for a field trip.  We have been doing our unit study on Africa, and in science we’ve been studying the grasslands biome. Lake Chala has beautiful grasslands, and we enjoyed our day there. The students sketched for a while, took pictures and finally we hiked down to the lake to swim. Even though this is the dry season, we’ve had some recent rains and the grasslands of Chala are bright and green! I love the summer look the area has right now, with sunflowers and every kind of plant blooming. When we camped here in September, the grasses were all shades of tan and brown. I found the dryness beautiful too – the way the afternoon sun made the colors all blend together, the distinct arid rustling sound when the breeze came through.  Fun to experience the small differences in seasons here – it’s not much, but I will take what I can get!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Crafts with 1st and 2nd Grade

In the afternoons on Thursdays I teach the 1st and 2nd grade class on the topic of Crafts/Cooking. You might already be chuckling picturing 6 and 7 year olds doing cooking and crafting, but it’s actually a lot of fun. They’re so enthusiastic about ANYTHING that we do. It could be lining up at the door and they’re just like, “YES!! Let’s do it!!!” Anyway, I’ve had a great time finding projects for the class, and linking them in to the topics they’re currently studying.  The class is reading Charlotte’s Web, and so last week we did a simple weaving project to make a spider web with plates.

But before we did that, we did an activity. Before the class, I set up a yarn web in the hallway outside their classroom. They didn’t see it as they came in from break, so after we talked about spiders and their features, I suggested we go see a spider I had seen in the bathroom across the hall. You should have seen their eyes as we walked into the hallway and were blocked by a giant, tricky web! One of the students even yelped in fear and attached herself to my leg. But when they realized they’d be allow to climb through it, they were ecstatic.  They had fun pretending to be bugs escaping from a large spider, and then we returned to our craft time.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Getting Creative with PE

Our school is brand new, and we're all just getting used to how to make it work here in Moshi. Resources are a little scarce, supplies are rationed -- you know it's true when we have a whole trash pile that we keep and scavenge through for art projects, and when I find myself saying, "Ugh I HATE Pinterest - I can't do any of these things for school!!"

Anyway, PE is one of those classes where we have limited supplies - we have a basketball hoop/ball, a soccer ball, and a 4-square ball.  Now that's way more than some schools around here, so we count our blessings, but after a while, the kids get a little tired of that routine. Thankfully, while we don't have many supplies, we have a very creative PE teacher and he has come up with some crazy fun things to do.

Old mattresses + slackline = improvised tightrope and balance lesson:

Mercy going for a walk on the slackline
The kids even convinced teacher Francis to give it a try!