How to Teach Your Kids About Africa One Country at a Time
Too many children grow up believing that the entirety of Africa is one country. It’s often taught along a list of other large countries (Japan, China, Russia, etc) without taking the time to appreciate the many countries that make up this beautiful continent. Teaching littles about the rich history of African countries really is so much more than just a geographical study. Africa does have the most countries of any continent (54 to be exact!), and what’s more than that is that each country is rich in history, culture, art, and so much more. Teaching littles about all 54 seems like a big ask, but we know a couple amazing ways on how to teach your kids about Africa one country at a time.
One Country at a Time
One of our favorite ways to begin exploring other cultures with your kids? Pick a country, any country, and really dive into the culture. What’s the food like? What kind of music do they enjoy? How do they dress? What are some of their unique traditions? What kind of art is unique to that country? This can be done through books (we love children’s literature!), movies, internet research, arts and crafts, or even by traveling to the country! Experiencing another culture firsthand is an amazing way for kids to learn and understand different ways of life. Choosing one country, and doing it well, will help children grasp that Africa isn’t just one large collective country. We’ve gone ahead and outlined a few countries to get your started:
Located in east Africa, Kenya is a popular tourist destination. It's home to stunning wildlife reserves, including the Masai Mara National Reserve and the Amboseli National Park. The Kenyan people are known for their friendliness and strong sense of community. Some popular Kenyan dishes include ugali (a dish made of maize flour), chapati (an unleavened flatbread), and nyama choma (barbecued meat).
Located in southern Africa, South Africa is a beautiful country with a rich history. It's home to iconic landmarks like Table Mountain and Robben Island. The South African people are known for their warmth and sense of humor. Some popular South African dishes include chakalaka (a dish made of beans and vegetables), pap (a type of cornmeal porridge), and vetkoek (a deep-fried bread).
Nigeria (this one is extra special to us here at Ade + Ayo!)
Located in west Africa, Nigeria is the most populous country on the continent with over 200 million people. It's a culturally diverse country, with over 500 different ethnic groups. The Nigerian people are known for their hard work and resilience. Some popular Nigerian dishes include jollof rice (a dish made of rice and tomatoes), egusi soup (a soup made of melon seeds), and plantains (a type of starchy fruit).
As a Nigerian Canadian now living in the United States, I've experienced a lot of changes in my life. The smell of Nigerian food, the sound of Nigerian music and the colors and patterns of traditional Nigerian clothing have made everywhere I've lived feel like home. My Nigerian culture has been a source of pride and joy for me, and I wanted it to be that for my son as well. As I excitedly started working on Ariyo's nursery and wardrobe, the search for nursery decor and baby clothes that would remind me of home and introduce him to the beauty of Africa revealed a huge gap. I could not find clothes in my traditional colors and patterns that would be comfortable enough for daily wear, and any “African-inspired” nursery decor I could find either equated African design with a “safari” theme or was too expensive. I was saddened to see this, but also motivated to provide a solution. So, Ade + Ayo was born.
Children are at the heart of everything we do at Ade + Ayo. We create products they'll love, help them build connections to their global community, donate to support their education and make choices that keep the earth safe for them.
More Ways to Learn
If you’re wanting a more methodical approach, we love going through the countries alphabetically. We’ve gone ahead and compiled a list for you, and as we mentioned before, please note that teaching about every country is something that will take a great amount of time. We like the idea of starting to go through these country by country over summer break! But again, it will likely take much longer than that – it’s just a great starting place :)
To help guide you as you teach, we would recommend exploring the following questions:
What’s the food like? What kind of music do they enjoy? How do they dress? What are some of their unique traditions? What kind of art is unique to that country?
- Burkina Faso
- Cabo Verde
- Central African Republic (CAR)
- Congo, Democratic Republic of the
- Congo, Republic of the
- Cote d'Ivoire
- Equatorial Guinea
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Keep in mind that it's impossible to learn everything about Africa in one day, or even one year. Teaching your kids about Africa one country at a time is less about downloading information into their minds, and more about allowing them to experience the nuances and complexities of this great continent. By starting with one country at a time, you can make the learning process fun and manageable. Start the journey, we’ll be right there with you :)