Social studies curriculum

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Time Frame: (10 weeks)

The main focus of this first theme is map skills and geography terms as well as the introduction to culture and themes of geography through the study of Kenya. Once students are familiar with the continents and world oceans teachers should use the continent of Africa and Kenya as the basis for lessons on geographical terms and physical features of the world. Resource material on Africa/Kenya should also be used for instruction related to the expectations for labeling and interpretation of different types of maps, tables, charts, and graphs. When teaching topics related to Africa/Kenya, teachers should incorporate specific strategies for reading and comprehending non-fiction text while at the same time helping students achieve the learning expectations for social studies related to the study of Kenya.
Note: This unit will be followed by the study of electricity, light, and sound, part of the grade five science curriculum. It is suggested that teachers might begin with the study of Sound and connect learning to a study of African music and instruments.

Major Concepts:
Geography terms

Seven continents


Directions, latitude and longitude

Locating specific places and physical features

Reading and interpreting types of maps, graphs, charts and tables

Interpreting scale, key, compass rose

Mechanics of map labeling

Understanding of Kenya relative to the continent of Africa (location, geography, climate, environment)

Geography, People and Culture of Kenya

Student Expectations:
Students will:

  1. Be able to read and interpret different types of maps. G, E, C

  1. Read and interpret types of graphs, tables and charts. G, E, C

  1. Be able to locate and label the continents and oceans. G

  1. Learn basic geography terms G

  1. Be able to identify specific physical features of the world. G

  1. Be able to label the major physical features and geographical regions of Africa and G


  1. Describe how the geography of Kenya affects people and their way of life. G, E

  1. Learn about the country of Kenya including the contrast between modern cities and G, E

tribal villages.

  1. Learn about various aspects of Kenyan/African culture G, H

Required Instructional Tasks and Assessments: (See Note 1)
Students will:

  1. Learn vocabulary words and geographical terms through project work. (See Note 2 and list of Additional Instructional Tasks and Assessments)

  1. Use an atlas to respond to geography based critical thinking questions. (See Rand McNally Teacher Guide p. 15)

  1. Label all continents and oceans on a blank map of the world.

  1. Create an illustrated dictionary, mini-book, flip book or flashcards of geographical terms.

(See also: Teaching the Five Themes of Geography pages 22 – 29)

  1. Read about the physical features of Africa.


  • Milliken: Map Skills Africa p. 3

  • Creative Activities for Teaching about Africa; Activity 10, p. 16

  • Rand McNally Student Atlas introductory pages 72 – 73

  1. Label main geographical / physical features on an outline map of Africa. (See Note 4)


  • Hands on Geography: p. 66 – 67

  • Thematic Unit: Multicultural Folk Tales pages 10 – 11, and 58

  • Africa Geography Unit pages 1 – 3

  • Nystrom Student Activities pages 49 – 54

  • Mapping Africa pages 9 – 22 and 47 – 58

  1. Learn vocabulary words related to Kenya. (See Note 5)

  1. Learn about and define the term “culture” through the study of Kenya. (See Note 6)

  1. Read Text: Highlights Top Secret Guide to Kenya (Includes a general description of Kenya, and information on ethnic / tribal groups, geography, climate, animals, Nairobi, sports, crops, products, Lake Victoria, The Great Rift Valley, lakes, parks, Mt. Kenya, safaris, Mombassa, Lamu, art activities, food, farming, trade and industry, schools, and other facts and figures.)


Read Text: Faces: Kenya (Includes a detailed map of Kenya, comparison of the four main land

regions of Kenya, and information on the use of land, climate, crops, Jomo Kenyatta, problems

facing Kenya, formation of the Rift Valley, games, traditions, parks, animal life, poaching, the

Maasai, beadwork activities, herders, growing up in Kenya, farming, crops, exports, industries, tribal

groups and sports. )

  • After reading about Kenya students may complete a semantic web on aspects of Kenya.

(See also: Living Geography Eastern Africa pages 32 – 33)

  1. Use an atlas or other resources to label geographical features of Kenya ( landforms, bodies of water

and major cities) and surrounding countries.

  • Time Traveler Series: Kenya p. 9

  • Living Geography p. 5

  1. Read about various cultural / tribal groups in Kenya from modern cities and from villages. Take two column notes on each or complete an "I – chart" on aspects such as organization of family units, bartering, marriage, raising children, adulthood rituals, warriors, crafts, homes, personal belongings, education, earning a living, etc. Once reading and note taking are complete students can write paragraphs or an expository essay comparing two tribes or create informational pamphlets.

Possible tribes and sources of information / activities:

  • Living Geography pages 44 – 46 (Kikuyu)

  • Living Geography pages 14-15 (Luo)

  • Time Traveler Series: Kenya pages 10 – 14 (Kikuyu, Luo, Maasai, Turkana)

  • NOTE: See Appendix A for Additional Instructional Tasks and Assessments as well as possible

writing prompts.

  1. For some assessments (required or suggested) specific resources and pages have been listed for

teacher reference. The cited activity pages would be useful in achieving specific expectations. Teachers may choose to use activities sited, adapt them to meet their needs, or substitute similar activities from other appropriate sources.
Though activities for building map skills are incorporated into a distinct unit, teachers will reinforce concepts and skills taught during the course of all other social studies units.

2. Geographical Terms / Vocabulary:

Antarctic Circle Archipelago

Arctic Circle





Cardinal Directions

Climate Compass Rose









Intermediate Directions






Map Scale

Meridians of longitude





Parallels of latitude


Physical map



Political map


Prime meridian







Time zones


Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Capricorn


  1. Geographical Terms / Mapping Requirements for Africa Study:

  • Waters surrounding Africa;

Indian Ocean Persian Gulf Red Sea

Atlantic Ocean Mediterranean Sea

  • Main rivers of Africa;

Niger Senegal Zambezi

Zaire Congo Nile

  • Major lakes in Africa;

Victoria Nyasa Tanganyika

  • Major deserts and mountains of Africa;

Sahara Atlas Mountains

Libyan Kenya Highlands

Kalahari Namib

  • Equator, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn

  1. Vocabulary - Kenya: Nairobi, Mombassa, poachers, coral reef, plains, highlands, fault, Mt. Kenya, game reserve, coastal lowlands, Maasai, cash crops, nomads, culture, urban, rural, famine, elevation, savanna, drought

  1. Definition of Culture: The way of life of a group of people which includes the following; their language, clothing food, housing/architecture, religion, government, geography, family structure and corresponding roles, holidays, traditions and customs, education, art, music, literature and societal contributions.

Resources: (Resources denoted with an *asterisk are available at both middle schools.)
Map Skills:
*Culturgrams. (1998). Fort Atkinson, WI: UpStart Co.

*Dill, Bonnie. (1994). Teaching the Five Themes of Geography. (1994). Torrance, CA: Frank

Schaffer Publications, Inc.

*Fischer, Max. (1995). Geography Simulations. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials,


Forte, Imogene and Frank, M. (1997). World Geography from the Basic not Boring Series.

Nashville, TN: Incentive Publications, Inc.

*Global Study Cards. (1997). Holbrook, NY: World Class Learning Materials, Inc.

*Interact Unit: Caravans. (1993). El Cajon, CA: Interaction Publishers, Inc.

Jones, Elizabeth. (1990). The Book of The World. Greensboro, NC: Carson–Dellosa Publishing Co.,


Julio, Susan. (1993). The Complete Geography Project and Activity Book. New York: Scholastic.

*Nystrom: Geo-Themes [The Nystrom World Atlas; Student Activities]. (1999). Chicago, IL: Nystrom.

*Rand McNally Classroom Atlas – Teacher’s Guide. (1997). Skokie, IL: Rand McNally and Co.

Silver, James F. (1992). Ready to Use World Geography Activities for Grades 5 – 12. West Nyack,

NY: The Center for Applied Research in Education.

*Student Atlases.

Using Maps, Globes, Graphs, Tables and Charts: A Unit of Study. (1991). Colman Communications


*World Explorer Social Studies and Geography Skills Handbook (1998) . Needham, MA: Prentice Hall.


*Creative Activities for Teaching about the Countries and Regions of the World: Africa. (1988).

Stockton, CA: Stevens and Shea Publishers, Inc.

*Dill, Bonnie. (1994). Teaching the Five Themes of Geography. Torrance, CA: Frank Schaffer

Publications, Inc.

Forte, Imogene and Frank, M. (1997). World Geography: Basic not Boring Social Studies

Skills - Inventive Exercises to Sharpen Skills and Raise Achievement. Nashville, TN: Incentive

Publication, Inc.

*Garrett, Carole (Ed.) (1992). Map Skills: Africa. St. Louis, MO: Milliken Publishing Co.

Gerson, Mary-Joan. Why the Sky is Far Away. A Nigerian Folk Tale.

*Internet site: Kids Only: Africa On Line. Choose “Learn about Africa”. (

Mapping Africa. A Curriculum Unit Grades Six to Ten. (1994). Stanford, CA: The Africa Project/


Moore, Jo Ellen. (1992). Africa Geography Unit. Monterey, CA: Evan-Moor Corp.

*Nystrom: Geo-Themes [The Nystrom World Atlas: Student Activities]. (1999). Chicago, IL:


O’Halloran, Kate. (1997). Hands- On Culture of West Africa. (1997). Portland, ME: J. Weston Walch

Publishers. (Features reproducible activities and information on West Africa including money, folk

tales, music, art, house building, proverbs, language, games and cooking.)

Perfect, Suzanne. (1992). African’s There: The Yoruba, Ashanti, and Mende in 19th Century West

Africa. East Windsor, CT: Synergetics. (Features activities on mapping West Africa, reader’s

theater, clothing, work, trades, metal works, games and African daily life.)

Pofah, Jane. (1997). The Time Traveler Series: Nigeria. (1997). Grand Rapids, MI: Instructional

Fair, TS Denison. (Features reproducible text and activities on the history, geography, people and

culture of Nigeria.)

*Rand McNally Classroom Atlas – Teacher’s Guide. (1997). Skokie, IL: Rand McNally and Co.

Silver, James F. (1992). Ready to Use World Geography Activities for Grades 5 – 12. West Nyack,

NY: The Center for Applied Research in Education.

*Student Atlases

*White, Frank. (1993). Caravans Interact Unit. El Cajon, CA: Interaction Publishers, Inc.

Adams, Cynthia. (1998). The Time Traveler Series: Kenya. Grand Rapids, MI: Instructional Fair, TS


Capaldi, Gina. (1997). Africa: Customs, Cultures, Legends, and Lore. (1997). Torrance, CA: Good


*Crooker, Elizabeth (Ed.) (Jan. 1999). Faces: Kenya – People, Places and Cultures. Peterborough, NH:

Cobblestone Publications.

*Culturgrams (1998). Fort Atkinson, WI: UpStart Co.

Davenport, Merle. (1998). Living Geography: Eastern Africa – An Interdisciplinary Unit. Grand Rapids, MI: Instructional Fair, TS Denison.

Discovering Africa. (1995). Pittsburgh, PA: Hayes School Publishing Co., Inc.

*Levine, Ken. (1991/1993). A Survey of World Cultures: Africa. [Text, Teacher’s Guide and

Blackline Masters] Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service, Inc.

Marshall, David. (1996). Top Secret Adventures: Guide to Kenya. Columbus, OH: Highlights for


Schaff, Barbara and Roth, S. (1993). A Trip Around the World. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher

Created Materials, Inc.

Supplemental African Folk Tales: (not required)
*Arner, Beth. (1996). Folk Tales Interact Unit. El Cajon, CA: Interaction Publishers, Inc.

*Billings, Melissa. (1993). Mosaics: Folk Tales from around the World. North Billerica, MA:

Curriculum Associates.

Courlander, Harold and Herzog, G. The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories.

Feelings, Muriel. (1974). Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book. Dial Books. Moja Means One: Feelings, Muriel. (1971). Swahili Counting Book. Dial Books

Kurtz, Jane. Fire on the Mountain

Internet Sites: (for links to sites in world studies and geography) (Rand McNally)
Cartopedia: The Ultimate World Reference Atlas

Encarta 97: World Atlas. (1996). Microsoft Corp.

GeoSafari Geography. (1997). Carson, CA: Educational Insights.

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