Tagged Africa

What Nino Read, September 2014

the princess and her great-great-grandmother (from The Princess and the Goblin)
the princess and her great-great-grandmother (from The Princess and the Goblin)

Corduroy Makes a Cake

It’s Milking Time (didn’t like this one that much — maybe he can’t relate since we hardly ever drink cow’s milk here)

Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the Carnival Prize

The Best Kind of Kiss by Margaret Allum ***

The Little Piggy’s Book of Manners (a fun way for kids to learn manners/reinforce what we’ve taught them) *****

Little Bo Peep Can’t Get to Sleep (Little Bo Peep plus other familiar characters from traditional nursery rhymes and stories incorporated) ****

A Photo for Greta by Anna Alter – on photography and father/daughter relationship. Cute. **

Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter — cute book on hiding in plain sight and on being “seen”. **

A Gift of Gracias — on Our Lady of Altagracia — HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ***** Dominican Republic culture , faith, cultivating a spirit of gratitude, January 21

Best Little Wingman – long-time family favorite on father-child relationship, wintertime, how snow plows work ****

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – **** – Africa, electricity, power & energy, Malawi, drought, poverty, windmills.

Nino’s thoughts when we read this: This reminds me of The Wizard of Menlo Park, Mommy!
Me: Who’s that?
Nino: Thomas Edison! (LOL, I had forgotten – we read about Thomas Edison in My Book House)

Three Scoops and a Fig – Italy, Italian flag, figs, cooking and baking, about being “too little” to do things — this book made Nino want to eat gelato. 😀 ****

The Babe and I – baseball, Great Depression, 20th century, Babe Ruth, Yankees, New York, newspaper boy ****

Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox – cute rhyming book on — what else — chicken pox ***

Miss Nelson is Back — funny, silly story on substitute teachers (and their tricks). ***

My Friend by Beatrice Alemagna – pictures are fabric/thread collages. simple book on friendship ***

Also read this past month:

Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers — which Nino asked me to read (got it on Kindle) — he had been introduced to Shakespeare via Jim Weiss — we loved most of them except King Lear — that was just tragic and bizarre.


The Wizard of Oz – ** – Meh.

The Princess and the Goblin — absolutely wonderful book!!

The Princess and Curdie — sequel to Princess and the Goblin

both by George MacDonald, a Tolkien favorite. Wish I had read these books to the kids when they were little. Lots of little nuggets on faith, adventure, staying true to oneself, bravery, honesty, integrity, etc. Wow. Nino and I had LOTS of fun with these books and I’d love to get them on hardcover so we can have them on the shelf and he can reread them anytime and re-learn these character lessons when he does.

Africa Unit Study, Day 20

Read aloud: Galimoto

Art activity: Make your own galimoto with different grade wires from the hardware store. More ideas here.

Read and narrate: Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. (3rd grade and up)

Continue to work on African Saints today.

Mom: Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa provides a wealth of information that can be used for the African scrapbook — can also be used as a jump-off point for further unit studies/rabbit trails.

Today’s Menu, from Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa:

Green Plantain Chips, p. 21 or Akara, p. 22
Mango Fool, p. 33
Hibiscus Tea steeped with lemon grass and flavored with vanilla or rum extract
Suya, p. 41

(optional — a more involved stew maybe for dinner: Palaver Sauce, p. 31)

Africa Unit Study, Day 19

Fun Read Alouds or for Beginning Readers: What’s Cooking, Jamela?

Fun Read for Older Kids: King Solomon’s Mines (Mom, pre-read please). For discussion: Should fiction be included in a serious study of history? Why or why not? In reading King Solomon’s Mines, what did you learn about Africa that you did not learn from other sources we’ve used?

Reading and Narration: St. Augustine and His Search for Faith. Don’t forget to add St. Augustine to our Saints section!

Revisiting Ancient History:
Dig: Leptis Magna
Here’s a handy Teacher’s Guide with activities.

Today’s Menu, from A Taste of Africa:

Shiro Wot, p. 69
Sweet Potato Pone, p. 137
Lemon Grass Tea, p. 45

Africa Unit Study, Day 18

Mom and older kids: Saints of Africa. Can also read aloud certain sections. Pick 12 saints to include in our Africa scrapbook.

(Note about this book: It is a worthy compilation of well-known, lesser-known and obscure African saints. What bothers me about it (so far, and I’m only into the first few pages) is that the author chooses to put down other saints while lifting up others. I understand that the saints weren’t perfect, and that all of them had their own inner demons to deal with, but I’d rather read biographies of saints that highlight their particular strengths and challenges they had to overcome, without resorting to criticizing their “fellow saints” in the process. For instance, I did not like the author’s reference to St. Jerome being “acrimonious”. I tend to regard the saints as somewhat like my parents — I know they’ve got faults, but I love them anyway, and would prefer to focus on what’s admirable and inspiring about them.)

Read Aloud: The Day of Ahmed’s Secret Study questions: 1. What was Ahmed’s secret? 2. Do you remember the first time you learned to read? 3. Describe in a few sentences what it felt like to finally be able to read. Add notes to the Egypt section of our Africa scrapbook.

Today’s Menu:
from The Momo Cookbook

Tomato Confit (p. 56)
Harira (p. 69)
Potato Gratin with Fresh Coriander (p. 100)
Dried Fruit Salad (p. 173)

Africa Unit Study, Day 17

Read Aloud: A is for Africa. Add notes to the Nigeria page.

Read Aloud: Moja Means One. Copy and illustrate the numbers in the book.

Older kids: Read African Fractals. Take note of interesting information and include in the Math section of the Africa scrapbook.

Print out banknotes to add to your country pages. You can find them here, and here. Or use the Rand workpages here.

Read Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, pages 332, 343, 362-363. Make entries into Book of Centuries/Adventure: Africa scrapbook.

Today’s Menu, from The Momo Cookbook:

Zaalouk, p. 63
Kesra, p, 137
Briouats of Saffron Chicken, p. 73
Almond Milk, p. 143

Africa Unit Study, Soccer Time!


The oldest boy is reading Cry, the Beloved Country. Here’s a set of questions from LoveToLearn.net if you want to go that route. I’ve watched the movie and highly recommend for late teens to adults.

The younger ones are reading Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales and Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

For dessert tonight — melktert!! Made with homemade buttermilk from my cultured butter experiment the other day. It should work, given that it’s apparently very similar to buttermilk pie.

Africa Unit Study, Day 16

Read Aloud: Chidi Only Likes Blue. Make a color wheel. You can use this blank wheel if you like. In each section of the wheel, write down your notes or draw the items Chidi and Nneka like. Put this page in our African scrapbook.

Read Aloud: The Jungle Grapevine. Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the back of the book!

Music:: Listen to (and dance to, if you like) Kronos Quartet’s Pieces of Africa all day.

Movie for Mom and Dad: Amistad. Must-read reviews.

Older Kids: Read Amos Fortune. There is a sample study guide here, but we probably won’t use it… dinner time discussion should be good enough for this, and maybe a one-page narration. I’m also letting the kids peruse some links:

Today’s Menu

Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk
Atar Allecha
Tunisian Potato Salad
Rooibos Chocolate Cake

Africa Unit Study: Books and Movies I Didn’t Like

This is my list of what *not* to include in our study. For various reasons.

The White Giraffe
The Slave Dancer
Africa for Kids
The Power of One — ugh. couldn’t even get past the first few pages. I borrowed it because of the high Amazon ratings.

I’ll go ahead and add comments here too about the movies we picked:

Casablanca we saw because I’ve been wondering forever, hearing those quotes all the time — “Here’s looking at you, kid”, “Play it again, Sam”, “We’ll always have Paris”. We didn’t love the movie, though it wasn’t a total waste of time. I like that Bogart’s character was honorable and decided to do the right thing in the end. And the plot twist made things more interesting.

Major disappointment was King Solomon’s Mines — I picked the highest rated one featuring Stewart Granger (unknown to me prior to this), because the book was just so funny that I even chose to read aloud parts of it to the kids and actually let my 11-yo read it, with a stern warning that he was not to make silly jokes about certain anatomical parts referenced in the book. I was hoping the book would at least stay true to the story. It had won awards, apparently because of the authenticity of the setting (real tribes, language, costumes, etc.), but it was not H. Rider Haggard’s story. Adding a romance to it did not help at all. Part of the appeal to me of King Solomon’s Mines, the story, was the masculinity of it. My kids were so looking forward to “beautiful white legs” and the story around that. The humor in the movie was non-existent and we were given, instead, stares and kisses and romantic tension. Blecch. I’m not optimistic, looking at the other options, with Patrick Swayze and Richard Chamberlain. *Someone* has to do this movie again, the *right* way.

Africa Unit Study, St. Charles Lwanga

How timely (and ironic, but more on that later) that we’re doing our Africa unit study and today is the feast day of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions! I’m keeping it simple (everyone’s still recovering, bad coughs all around) so we’re simply going to read from the Liturgy of the Hours, which includes a portion of the homily delivered by Pope Paul VI at the canonization of these martyrs of Uganda.

Here are some useful links:

Catholic Culture for June 3
Black Martyrs at the National Black Catholic Congress website
from Catholic.org
Amandazi from Catholic Cuisine — but since I’m stocked with African ingredients already we’ll stick with the menu plan for the day — these sound really yummy though
lots of information at the Women for Faith and Family website
found this link at 4real, to jclubcatholic, suitable for younger kids

Our library doesn’t have a copy of African Triumph by Charles Dollen and I didn’t look for it in time to purchase it for today :(.

Ironic that this day is the feast of African martyrs who gave their lives for purity and for the Christian faith, in a month which our African-American president declares LGBT Pride Month. These martyrs died just 125 years ago.

St. Charles Lwanga, pray for us!

From Liturgy of the Hours:

You have made the blood of the martyrs
the seed of Christians.
May the witness of Saint Charles and his companions
and their loyalty to Christ in the face of torture
inspire countless men and women
to live the Christian faith.
We ask this though our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Mogo’s Flute: Study Questions

  1. Where did Mogo live?
  2. What is the mundo-mugo?
  3. What is the legend of the 9 Kikuyu tribes?
  4. If you were Kikuyu like Mogo, how would you answer the question, “What is your name?”
  5. Based on what the author tells about Mogo’s thahu, what are some other possible explanations for Mogo’s problems?
  6. On page 13, Mogo’s dad wonders if it might have been better had Mogo died. Why did he say that? Do you agree? As Catholics, how do we think of LIFE? Explain differences/similarities.
  7. What role did Njoki play in helping Mogo overcome his thahu?
  8. Have you met someone like Njoki in your life?
  9. What do the Kikuyu believe about old people and death? Clue: see page 18
  10. What did Mogo do “to make his journey a success”?
  11. What was Mogo thinking as he made his way through the forest? Why did he think these things?
  12. Why is “what we have done” as important as “what we have not done”? How would you apply this in your life?
  13. What does ‘mastering one’s thahu‘ mean?
  14. What is your favorite part of the whole story and why?
  15. How can a curse be also a blessing? Give an example.
  16. How can a gift also be a loss? Give an example.
  17. Explain these: “A lone bee perishes.” “One twig cannot make of itself a basket.”
  18. What was the part you liked the least and why?
  19. How do you respond to unfairness? What is the best way to respond?
  20. What did Mogo learn about mothers’ work?
  21. What did Mogo’s family believe about the “sacred fire”? (see p. 31) Compare/contrast with Catholics’ sanctuary lamp/eternal flame.
  22. List 5 similes and 5 metaphors taken from pp. 32-35.
  23. What are the differences between Mogo’s people and the Masai?
  24. What did Mogo think the message of his dream was?
  25. What skills did he learn?
  26. What important life skills should one learn regardless of handicaps/weaknesses?
  27. Explain: “Soil does not cheat a man.” (p. 50)
  28. Read Grandfather’s blessing again on p. 51. (Extra credit: use this for copywork.) How is it similar to our blessing prayers?
  29. Explain: “A hyena robbed of its meal finds another.”
  30. Narrate the story of the hyena and the mole.
  31. How is Mogo’s skill set different from yours? Why are they different?
  32. Mogo’s father tells Mogo that his first earnings should go towards the purchase of a goat or lamb. Compare/contrast with Dad’s/Mom’s teachings about finances.
  33. What are two ways the Kikuyu people measure time?
  34. When people cheat you, when you lose, what’s the best attitude to have?
  35. What did Mogo learn about giving?
  36. Why was Mama surprised that they were cheerful?
  37. How can a bad thing be a good thing too? Compare/contrast with Catholic teaching that God can take the bad and make something good out of it.
  38. What is the “happiest pain” in Mogo’s young life? Have you had a similar experience?
  39. How had Mogo changed between the time he had his first flute and the time he got his second flute?

A bit more involved thinking:

  1. List the major characters of the story, with a descriptive phrase about each.
  2. List some of the differences/similarities between yours and Mogo’s cultures. (e.g., sleeping arrangements, men’s/women’s roles, etc.)
  3. Make a list of the animals mentioned in the story.
  4. List some of the Kikuyu’s beliefs that are different from yours.
  5. List some of the practices of Mogo’s tribe with regards to old people and young children.


Extra credit: Copy and color the picture on p. 34.

Africa Unit Study: Day 12

Read Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, pages 243, 270-273. Make entries into Book of Centuries/Adventure: Africa scrapbook.

Read Aloud: Honey… Honey… Lion! by Jan Brett. Print out animals and plants/trees to color. You can either a) make a mural or b) put these in the Flora and Fauna section of our Adventure:Africa scrapbook. Optional activity: Rhythm band instruments.

Mom and Dad and older kids: Watch War Dance.

Todays’ Menu:

Crabmeat, pineapple, and avocado on lettuce, with lime vinaigrette
Sweet Pepper Salad
Pita Bread from Baking with Julia

Africa Unit Study: Day 11

Pick an African country (we will do at least 3 each) for inclusion in our Adventure: Africa scrapbook. Use flags from Usborne Flags Sticker Book and choose facts and figures to copy. Work on these for the next 3 days.

Read Aloud: Wangari’s Trees of Peace and Planting the Trees of Kenya

Activity 1: Make tree collage with Mom. Inside each tree write your narration of Wangari’s story and number each tree so your narration can be read in order.

Activity 2: Research 3 of the trees Wangari planted and make a page for each of them. Put these in the “Flora and Fauna” section of our Adventure: Africa scrapbook.

Mom and older kids: Read Wangari Maathai’s thoughts on religion, wars and resources. What do you think of her views about the priesthood? Her view of how our world’s resources are managed?

All Ye Lands, pp. 269-273. Take notes and make entries into Book of Centuries/Adventure: Africa scrapbook.

Make Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa :

Marrakesh Rice and Lentil Soup, p. 76
Algerian Salad, p. 96
Date Fruit Cup, p. 266
Pita Bread

Africa Unit Study: Day 10

Mom and Older Kids (15 and up): Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust Discuss at dinner table. Make journal entries into Africa scrapbook.

Read Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, pages 212, 213, 216-217. Make entries into Book of Centuries/youngers into Africa scrapbook.

Read aloud Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain. Compare the place where you live to the book’s setting. How does Africa’s climate affect the way people and animals live? Define monsoon and drought. Is this story fiction or non-fiction? Explain.

“Make rain” at the dinner table tonight when everyone’s home. Optional activity: Make a rainstick.

Read about the acacia. Draw an acacia tree, including a closeup of its leaves. Write a short description. What does it remind you of? Read why the NBCC chose the acacia tree as its symbol. Pick some scripture verses to go with your drawing and write these in calligraphic script.

Dad and Mom: Coffee from Kenya!

Today’s Menu from Arabesque:

Tamatem Ma’Amrine, p. 58
Spinach Salad with Preserved Lemon and Olives, p. 56
Almond Pastries in Honey Syrup, p. 127