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exploring african culture
Goals Get Started Learning Activities Extensions
Getting Started Activity Menu

Activity One: African Myths
Activity Two: Everyday Life

Activity Three: Food in Africa
Activity Four: Art in African Culture

Activity Five: Indigenous Religions
Activity Six: Musical Reflections

Activity Four: Traditional and Modern Art in the African Culture

Objects of art have many roles in African culture. Some are used for everyday life while others serve important social and religious functions. In this lesson students will view and write about traditional works of art as well as examples of modern African art.

Teacher Background Information
Because of the size and diversity of the African continent, it is difficult to discuss African art without discussing the varying regions and peoples of the African continent. The Teacher's Guide to African Art Web site is a good place to develop background information on African art.
http://www. thinker.org/fam /education/publications /guide- african/ part-1.html
    Traditional African Art

    1. Send students to one of the following Web sites:
    Cultural Symbols Project
    http://www.marshall .edu/akanart/

    PBS AFRICA - Traditions
    http://www.pbs. org/africa /explore
    Choose a region, and go to the people section, then click on Traditions. Several traditional art objects are presented for each region.

    2. Much of traditional African art is functional. Art may be used as every day objects, to teach, entertain, or to contact the spirit world. Find examples for these functional uses for art on these sites.
      Describe the work of art.
      Tell what function the piece was used for.
      What do you like about the piece?
    Modern African Art

    3. The following site contains examples of modern African art.
    Art & Life in Africa Online
    http://www.uiowa .edu/~africart /snapshots/ index.html
    Contains a collection of cultural artifacts. To view murals, click on the Murals button in the menu.

    4. After students have viewed the art on these sites they will pick one piece of art and write about what the artist's work says about the country of their origin.

    5. Write a paragraph describing differences and similarities between traditional and modern African art.

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Activity Five: Indigenous Religions

In this lesson students will learn about the different religions in Africa. They will work in research groups to learn about and compare different religions in Africa. Students will write a story incorporating what they have learned about Shona burial traditions.
    1. Divide the class into small research groups.

    2. Assign each group one of the Explore the Regions sections of the PBS AFRICA Web site.
    http://www.pbs. org/africa /explore
    Tell students to pick a region, and then go to that region's people section, there they may click on the religion section for their chosen region's people.

    3. Each group will prepare a summary of the information from their site.

    4. Select groups to present the information they learned to the rest of the class.

    5. Create a class chart that compares and contrasts the religions that they researched.

Second Activity Although more than 25 percent of Zimbabweans attend Christian churches, Zimbabweans have incorporated elements of their traditional practices in their beliefs. At the core of these traditions, is the importance of ancestral spirits, and their relationship in Zimbabweans' daily lives. In this lesson students will learn about the Shonas' burial beliefs and traditions.
    1. In this activity students will read about Shona burial traditions on the following web site:
    http://www.zambuko.com/mbirapage/resource_guide/ pages/culture/shona_religion.html

    2. Explain to the class that a village member has died. Students will write a story about the event, incorporating what they have learned about death and dying in the Shona culture.

    3. Tell the students to take notes on the details that they might want to include in their story.

    4. Students will share their stories with the class.

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Activity Six: Musical Reflections

In this lesson students will be exposed to varied elements of African music, and explore the role of music in conflict resolution.
    1.Go to the PBS AFRICA Web site and visit the music areas of the Explore the Regions sections.
    http://www.pbs.org/ africa/explore
    Choose a region, and then go to the people section and click on music.

    2. Divide the class into small groups. Each group should choose one region to investigate. The groups should share what they have learned with the entire class.

    3. Discuss the diversity of African music with the class.

    4. Ask the class to discuss the following question:

    What role can music play in helping people deal with conflict?

    5. Visit the following Web site which explores issues concerning children who are impacted by war and read the article at
    http://www.war child.org/ projects /kwamashu.html

    6. After reading the article, ask the students the following questions:
      How can music serve to unite or divide people?
      How can music be used to help solve the worldıs problems?
      What kinds of musical projects do you know of that have made a difference in the world?

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