Mapping Africa has been designed to serve three purposes. First, the unit acts as an introduction to, or review of, fundamental geographic concepts and vocabulary. Second, it teaches students about the physical and political geography of Africa. Third, students learn to examine maps with a critical eye toward political and technical limitations. Students are future world citizens who need geography skills taught within the context of international education. The basic geographic competencies introduced in this unit can be applied to any world region.
Although the continent of Africa is often in the news, coverage of the region rarely conveys much understanding of the continent’s complex geography and environment. The unfamiliarity of the names of African countries and cities, the recent history of colonial governance, and the negative images that have been conveyed through films and television make it all the more important that students gain a basic knowledge and appreciation of this large, multifaceted world region.
Mapping Africa contains six lessons that can be integrated into your curriculum where it best suits your needs. Although some lessons depend on knowledge from prior lessons, they are for the most part interchangeable. For example, if students have questions about latitude and longitude after Lesson One, you may decide to move directly to Lesson Three.
The following overview of lessons gives you an idea of how the unit has been designed:
- Lesson One (suggested teaching time: 1 class period): Students review basic geography terms.
- Lesson Two (suggested teaching time: 1 to 2 class periods): Students participate in a “map hunt” activity. Students actively engage in a search for the countries and main physiographic features of Africa. Students label maps with this information.
- Lesson Three (suggested teaching time: 1 class period): Students learn or review the use of latitude and longitude by searching for the most populous African cities.
- Lesson Four (suggested teaching time: 1 to 2 class periods): Students participate in a second “map hunt” activity. Students search for answers to physiographic clues and label major physical landmarks in Africa on a map.
- Lesson Five (suggested teaching time: 1 class period) Students examine the complex nature of climate in Africa.
- Lesson Six (suggested teaching time: 1 class period): Students are introduced to cartography and explore difficulties of making flat representations of the world.