Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
The Sahara: Home of the Tuareg
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into three sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extension -- Additional Activities


Print out the student organizers for handing out during the class sessions.

Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:
  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

Bookmark the following sites:
  • PBS AFRICA Online
    This companion to AFRICA, the breathtaking eight-part television series, contains a wealth of information on Africa's geography, history, and culture.

  • PBS The Frontier House Web site
    This Web site, for use in the extension activity, portrays life in the American West during the late 19th century.

  •  Internet access
  •  Paper/pens

Introductory Activity:

  • Ask your students to imagine that you are an alien from outer space sent on a mission to study the human culture and environment in this area of the universe.

  • Begin by asking questions about the local community to get students thinking about their shared values, social and behavioral patterns, goals and beliefs. Investigate their housing; food; dress; social and family structures; economic, political, and historical influences.

  • Then, inquire about their physical environment. Can they describe the local flora, fauna, natural resources, landscape, and climate? Can they see any instances in which culture was impacted by the environment? Broaden these inquiries from the local community to the entire United States.

  • After the discussion, ask your students to help formulate the information into a cohesive summary, which you will use as a report upon returning to your home planet.

    Learning Activities:

    Activity One

  • Explain that students will examine how the environment influences the culture of the Tuareg. Begin by having students click through the the Sahara overview page of the PBS AFRICA Online site:

  • Ask the class to generate a list of questions about the impact of the Saharan environment on Tuareg culture based on some of the information they found on the Web site. Copy this list onto a piece of chart paper, as it will be used again during this lesson.

    If students have trouble developing their own research questions you may want to hand out the questions listed in the Environment/Culture Analysis Organizer.

  • Break into groups to answer the questions by means of online research. Note: is an excellent place for students to begin. As they complete their research, ask students to draw some conclusions about how geography impacted the Tauregs.

  • Now have students repeat this investigation for both their own culture and with another African group featured on the PBS AFRICA site. You may want to break students into new groups to conduct this investigation. Have each group create a report complete with visual aids for both cultures, to share with the class.

    Activity Two

  • Ask students to identify some of the ways in which the environment influenced the Tuaregs and other African cultures studied in Activity One. Write their responses on the board.

  • Tell them to keep in mind what they've learned as they move on to the next task: an analysis of how their own culture has impacted the environment. Begin by generating a list of features of their environment (e.g., homes, city or town layout, restaurants, etc). With a partner, have the students think of ways that these markers of culture have impacted the environment. When complete, have students present their findings to the class.

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:

  • Now that students have examined the symbiotic relationship between culture and environment, they should compare the cultures they examined in the previous activities to determine which environment is more sustainable in the long-term.

  • Tell your class that a new worldwide organization has been created to study the impact of culture on environment. The students have been asked to write a report on their findings from above. In their report, they should comment on which of the environments is most likely to remain intact, based on the impact of human culture on the country's environment. Students should include the following information: [Go to Student Organizer-Culminating Activity for a printable version of these requirements.]
    • A brief description of one or two cultural behaviors and their effects on the environment.
    • An opinion, supported with research, about which environment is in greater peril.
    • One to two suggestions about how to act globally and locally to help sustain the environment facing the greater threat.

  • You may choose to create a panel from the organization and have students present their reports to the panel. Assign students roles in the panel representing different interest groups (e.g., an oil executive, a power executive, an environmentalist, the owner of a fast food chain), and ask students to represent these different interests in a question and answer session after the presentation.

  • As a class, generate a list of things you can do locally to lessen your culture's impact on the environment.


  • Take an ecological look at America's frontier life by visiting FRONTIER HOUSE

  • Have students contact UN organizations to see how they conduct research on this topic. They can also research current environmental policies that deal with man's impact on the earth.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students