It is finally finished! My huge, comprehensive Discover Africa notebooking packet for homeschooling families (and beyond) is complete. I am not kidding when I tell you that writing this, combing through all the information, going over proofs, collecting photographer permissions, correcting stuff on Wikipedia… feels a little bit like a long, laborious pregnancy. Thankfully, there was no puking.
It truly was a labor of love, though. When my son wanted to teach a class at our homeschool co-op this year on geography, I told him we needed to narrow it down. Maybe visit each continent individually. He immediately chose Africa for the first whirlwind tour. Confident that I would be able to find any number of awesome curriculum packs for learning about Africa, I filled out our class proposal and sent it merrily on its way.
Days upon days later, I was stunned. I could find workbooks, downloads, and geography packets that claimed to teach about Africa, but absolutely none of them promised to visit every country. Most would touch on a few key areas, maybe touring the land by region, or only highlighting countries with popular, well known tribes. One packet I found promised a semester’s worth of Africa activities. I was so disappointed to find it only visited five countries… out of fifty-four.
Even more were out of date and didn’t include Morocco’s current hold on Western Sahara. Others didn’t include South Sudan. I could have worked with those limitations if the rest of the packet explored Africa in depth. But they didn’t.
Well. I did what any
self respecting completely crazy homeschooling mother does. I designed my own.
Though I’m sure I’ll continue to find little things to tweak (such is the nature of publishing; especially duct-tape-and-staples PDF publishing), but this huge 200+ page packet is ready for public consumption. Pardon me while I jump around and throw confetti!
Discovering the Packet
Allow me to give you a little tour of the only curriculum-help I know of that includes notebooking pages and maps for every single country in Africa. When you purchase the zip file (and I’ll spare you from scrolling, it’s $15 – but scroll anyway, there’s a freebie down below), you receive a folder just bursting with PDF printables for your use. There are lots of printing and formatting options, so the very first thing I recommend is to take a look at the 19 page Resource and Introductory Guide to familiarize yourself with your options.
There are 6 pages containing photographs sized just right for pasting onto your notebooking pages. All the photos are organized by country.
I print mine out and keep them in the front of the binder for easy access.
There are 7 pages of full color flags that act as a color guide as children color in the black line flags on each notebooking page. You can also cut them out and paste them into your notebook, or reduce the size to use in a passport.
I print ’em all out and keep them in the back of the binder:
After the coversheet there are two full maps of the African continent. One that is simply an outline (we used ours to mark the deserts, mountains, and such), and another that shows the current political borders — including South Sudan, and the disputed border between Morocco and Western Sahara.
We think it would be fun to color the countries as you visit them, but our daughter thought they all needed to be colored now.
Customizable options for all ages
Here is what a ‘full spread’ for a country looks like. On the left you have the country’s notebooking page; chock full of areas to fill in as you explore the land. On the right, an outline map of the country. Color in the lakes, rivers, roads, major cities, mountains, and more!
If you have little ones, or don’t want to do that much writing, you also have the option to print out the ‘mostly-filled-in’ notebooking pages. These only have a few places where writing is needed, while still leaving lots of activity areas for littles to help with:
You can fill in the pages together as a family, taking turns with the writing…
Or let your older children research and report as they work through the bulk of the pages themselves:
I’ve included tons of resources in the packet for wonderful books and websites to use. Though I couldn’t include every amazing photograph I could find (due to copyright and royalties), I do try to lead you in the direction where you can find photos to print yourself. No harm in printing screen captures for your own use, just don’t share or distribute the pictures you find without permission from the photographer.
Copies of postcards and money are super fun to paste in, I give you resources in the guide for where to find these things. Here’s J. with his real 10 Billion Dollar Zimbabwe money that we made a reduced copy of to paste onto the Zimbabwe page.
K’s ready to cut out some cute paper dolls that have all kinds of ceremonial clothing to wear:
Discover Africa! includes:
- A 19 page Resource and Instruction Guide to help you get started. It’s packed full of helpful suggestions, recommended books, and directions for printing and organizing the PDF printables.
- A file containing 54 single / individual beautifully designed, blank notebooking pages for each country in Africa in PDF format.
- A file containing 54 single / individual mostly-filled-out PDF notebooking pages for use in a homeschool co-op / classroom setting, or for use with younger children. These pages have most of the areas filled in, but still leave areas of activity for the students.
- A file containing outline maps of the continent of Africa, Africa with countries defined, and individual maps of each country.
- PLUS more files containing the single notebooking and map PDFs merged together so you can print one big book all at once. Both styles (blank & filled out) are included.
- A 7 page file containing all 54 African flags – use these as a color guide when the children color in the flag on the notebooking pages, or shrink them down for use in passports (instructions to make or buy passports is in the Resource Guide).
- A 6 page file packed with beautiful thumbnail photos for children to paste on their notebooking pages. Photos show a wide variety of African peoples in their traditional, ceremonial, or every day dress. Photographers are listed in the Resource Guide with their URLs so your family can explore more of their pictures.
Note: I made a huge effort to ensure all photos were ‘modest’ for conservative families. Though I’m a big believer in experiencing the full culture, I now have a 10 year old who is pretty uncomfortable with nudity. So no worries here, is what I’m saying.
Notebooking pages have the following features
- The country’s known name, plus the official name.
- A map showing where the country is in the world.
- A spot to write in the surrounding countries (this area is filled out on the mostly-filled-out pages).
- The country’s flag to color. (Use the included flag color guides as needed).
- A sample of a sentence written in a popular language of the country, and an area to write in what the language is.
- An area to paste in included color photos showing what the people look like and what they wear.
- Places to record population, capital city, terrain, government, currency, major religion(s), industry, agriculture, landmarks, and whether or not the country is at war or peace. (All but 3 of these will be filled in on the mostly-filled-in sheets).
- A box to list interesting things about the culture, cuisine, or other interesting facts (this is filled in with some additional space left on the mostly-filled-in sheets).
- Finally, there is a spot to list the page number, and the region of Africa the country is located in.
Flexibility and thoroughness
You can choose to print one country at a time as needed, or print everything in one big ‘book.’ You might decide to visit the countries alphabetically or by region. It’s a very flexible packet that gives you great ‘bones’ for a wonderful year spent exploring the entire beautiful continent of Africa.
Where to get it
First! A freebie, because you know I love freebies, right? You can get the photos for our Africa pages, organized by country, right here, for free. (Psst, if you buy the rest of the unit, it’s already bundled in the zip file.)
The ginormous 300 MB zip file containing the entire Discover Africa! notebooking packet is for sale for just $15.00. I’m using e-junkie to host and deliver the large file. It might take a while to download, so please be patient. But do let me know if you have any trouble.
Spread the word, earn money
Lots of homeschoolers already have their year planned out, and have maybe even already started school (darned organized homeschoolers!). I sure would love to hand you wads of cash to help me get the word out about Discover Africa! You can sign up as an affiliate, stick my marketing buttons
all over your websites artfully in your sidebars and earn 33% on every single sale. That’s an easy $5, me thinks.
Visit my affiliate page to sign up and scoop up some marketing buttons.
Some nitty gritty post-script
The packets are designed for use by families. If you’d like to use the packet in a classroom or homeschooling co-op, please contact me with the number of children who will need packets, and I will work out a special price for you.
Customers will receive updates whenever I need to change a file, for example if a country changes borders, splits, or revises their flag.