Lesson 1: Africa, the country?

Grade: 3rd
Time needed: 45 minutes

Essential Unit Questions
What assumptions/stereotypes exist about the continent of Africa? What drives these stereotypes?

Students will be able to…
-          articulate individual perceptions about Africa
-          identify cultural stereotypes held about Africa
-          consider and discuss the definition of stereotypes and where stereotypes come from

MMSD standards
Behavioral Science
  1. Interpret the components of a culture (i.e. language, literature, art, architecture, foods, traditions, beliefs, values, behaviors) present in a community
NCSS standards
I. Culture and Cultural Diversity
- to understand and apply the concept of culture as an integrated whole that governs the functions and interactions of language, literature, arts, traditions, beliefs, values, and behavior patterns

IV. Individual Development and Identity
- have learners compare and evaluate the impact of stereotyping, conformity, acts of altruism, discrimination, and other behaviors on individuals and groups 

Materials needed
-          computer and projector
-          Blank paper
-          Colored pencils or markers
-          Photograph of a child from a country other than US.


Africa Word Cloud

As a class, brainstorm a list of every word that comes to mind when students hear the word “Africa”. Students can repeat words that their peers already said, in fact, this should be encouraged. If students would feel more comfortable anonymously writing their words instead of verbally sharing, allow this in order to get a more accurate understanding of their ideas. Use wordle.net to create a word cloud of all of the words. This word cloud will be used later in the lesson.

Ready, Set, Draw!

Have students draw a picture of what they might see if they traveled to Africa. Encourage them to add as much detail as possible… people, places, food, clothing, occupations, animals, etc.

Discuss words and pictures on Africa

Display the word cloud using a projector as well as taping the pictures to the board so everyone can see them. Hold a discussion about things the students notice about the pictures and words.
-          What commonalities do you see between the pictures? What differences? Why do you
              think these things are so common?

-          What words were said the most? Why do you think so?
-          When you drew your picture, how did you know what to draw? 

Discussion of stereotypes

Show students a photograph of a child from another country (can use computer and projector to show a large photograph). Have students share a brief comment on something they think might be true about the person by looking at the picture… what does the person do? Do they have a family? How much money do they make? What do they eat? What language do they speak? Etc. 

Explain that making assumptions about a person just by looking at them is an example of stereotyping. Ask: Has anyone ever heard of the word stereotypes? If so, what does it mean? Any other ideas about what it means?
Explain that stereotypes are assumptions or mental pictures held about someone based on ideas or opinions that we already have about certain types of people. However, stereotypes are not always true because we do not know always the full story behind a person’s life. Ask: Why do you think everyone has stereotypes about other people? Do you think it is ok to have stereotypes about other people? Why or why not?

After a discussion, as a class create a working definition of the term “stereotype” so it can be referenced throughout the unit.


For the introductory lesson, I am most concerned with the students’ willingness and comfort level with sharing personal ideas about Africa and stereotypes. Assessing their vulnerability will be a good sensor for how deeply the students will engage with the later lessons in the unit as well as inform my instructional strategies for sharing personal thoughts throughout the unit.

My assessment will consist of observations of the students during the lesson, noting their level of contribution to the class discussion and ability to share their thoughts in various ways (drawing, writing, verbal sharing).

To assess comfort level of the students, I will ask for student feedback on their own perception of comfort. I will ask students to rate their level of comfort sharing their personal thoughts with the class on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = not comfortable at all, 3 = somewhat comfortable, 5 = completely comfortable). The students will simply write their rating and name on a piece of paper and turn it into me so they do not have to share it with their classmates.