Students in Martha Higgins’ and Katie Nowalk’s classes have been learning about South Africa during the month of April. Students learned where the country is located and about the geography of the area. Africa has mountains with volcanoes, savannas, a big city (called the city of gold), sea sides and a rain forest. Students also learned about Nelson Mandella and apartheid, a policy enforced by African government segregating races. They studied South African customs such as Kwanzaa, a week long holiday celebrated by families in different ways such as story telling, songs , drumming and dancing. One custom is to light candles each night while discussing the meaning behind Kwanzaa. Students made their own Kwanzaa candle-holders and South African flags.
The classes were treated to a visit from instrument teacher Sarah Hoffman who gave a demonstration of African instruments. She shared with the students how the instruments were made, and allowed the students the opportunity to play the instruments and to participate in a “drumming circle.” Following Ms. Hoffman’s visit, the students created their own instruments with recycled containers that they brought from home. In preparation for their upcoming safari adventure the students also made toilet paper tube binoculars.
After learning everything they could about South Africa the students prepared for the trip there. Once they had their passports stamped they handed their tickets in and loaded the “plane.” Their in-flight movie was called Magic School Bus In The Rain Forest. Once arriving in South Africa the students took a “safari ride” and visited the savanna, rain forest, sea side and mountains complete with a volcano! The students were treated to fruits that are grown in South Africa such as oranges, grapes, mangos and dates.
Members of the Reed family who were formally missionaries in South Africa visited the class to share stories and some of their souvenirs from the country. Katelyn Reed gave an overview of the South African country, people, culture and landscape.
Ethan Reed shared about the “Big 5” animals of South Africa and South African currency which has the Big 5 on it. Ethan passed around carved animals for the students to look at and had samples of South African currency. Each student chose one of the African big five animals, made an animal mask and completed a report on their animal.
Abigail Reed talked about the 11 official languages spoken in South Africa and shared that an American student would have an easy time fitting into a South African classroom because students are taught to speak English.
Mrs. Higgins’ and Mrs. Nowalk’s classes enjoyed working together and are planning to combine for other learning experiences throughout the year. “It was so much fun to learn about South Africa together.” Kindergarten teacher Martha Higgins said, “It was a positive experience for both classes and my students enjoyed getting to know Mrs. Nowalk’s students. Now we have new friends!”
Getting to know about South Africa doesn’t stop with this adventure. The classes have written pen pal letters to a school in South Africa and have plans in the future to video-conference with the class. Students are excited to get the chance to see who they have been writing to face to face.