Daily activities 111-115: The Mysteries of Africa

August 24, 2020

This week’s theme:

The Mysteries of … Africa

This week’s colouring in sheet:

Download and print this week’s colouring sheet here.


Activities for the week:


Mon 24th August

Daily activity 111: African language and culture

Fact of the day: The distance from Yorkshire to Central Africa is about 4600 miles. A flight from Yorkshire to the centre of this continent would take about 14.5 hours. If we were to walk to Central Africa, we would be about 1420 hours on the road and boat.

Activity 1:

Find the continent of Africa on a map.

The continent of Africa is made up of 54 recognised countries and states – are there any you’ve heard of before?

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Can you find any of them on a map of Africa?

Activity 2:

There are an estimated 1500-2000 African languages but Swahili is the most spoken language in Africa, with over 100 million speakers. Practice saying the following words in Swahili: ‘Sasa’ (Hi), ‘Jambo’ (Hello), ‘Kwa Heri’ (Goodbye), ‘Tutaonana’ (See You Later), ‘Ahsante’ (Thank You), ‘Tafadhali’ (Please), ‘Sawa’ (OK). You can hear them being pronounced here.

Activity 3:

If you have them, try some foods from across Africa: dates, couscous, papaya, mangoes, avocados, aubergine, bananas, chickpeas, figs, black-eyed peas, corn.



Tuesday 25 August

Daily Activity 112: African music

Fact of the day: Among the most important African instruments are drums and other percussion. They’re used in almost all African cultures for ceremonies and rituals, some of which involve dancing.

Activity 1:

Listen to some of these sounds made by an African instrument, the Djembe drum. Here’s another video. Try and beat along, perhaps patting your palms on your thighs, a table, or a bucket, or a tub, or by tapping a pen on a table, or clapping or stomping your feet.

Activity 2:

It’s believed that the Djembe drum goes back to the Mali (Western African) empire. The drum was supposedly played for the king of Mali wherever he went. The Djembe is a very loud drum, so people would play it so that it could be heard from village to village as a way to communicate certain messages, such as to tell others that the King was on his way. There is a specific Djembe drum beat to signify that the king is coming (see here). They are sometimes known as ‘talking drums’.

Without using your voice, what noises or rhythms can you make to communicate messages? What noise would you make to get somebody’s attention, tell somebody you’re bored, to say I love you, to say you’re cross, to say you’re hot. What else can you communicate through noise and rhythm?

Activity 3:

Can you remember when ‘Africa’ by Toto used to be in our ‘Around the World’ warm up dance? Have a listen and see if you can remember any of the dance moves we used to do, and try to add some more – the moves could be about African mountains, animals, deserts, heat, starry African skies.

Activity 4:

Have a dance to some African music such as Meridian by Wulomei, Fatoumata Diawara – Bissa, Kiki Gyan – Disco Dancer, Yeke yeke by Mory Kante, Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata, Ebo Taylor – Come Along and Moussa Doumbia – Femme D’aujourd’hui.



Wednesday 26 August

Daily Activity 113: African dance and movement

Fact of the day: Hippopotamuses love water, which is why the Greeks named them the “river horse.” Hippos spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers and lakes to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun. Hippos are graceful in water.

Activity 1:

You could try out an African dance lesson! And another!

Activity 2:

Try some African body percussion movements.

Activity 3:

Can you act like and move like these African animals – cheetah, elephant, giraffe, lion, meercat, gazelle, crocodile, ostrich, hippo. How would these African animals dance at a disco? How would they move around a supermarket?



Thursday 27 August

Daily activity 114: African Landscape and habitat

Fact of the day: The African landscape is made up of a huge mixture of rainforests, great lakes, deserts, coastal beaches, mountains, vast rivers, savannah, towns and cities.

Activity 1:

Create a tabletop African landscape, find yellow objects to represent the sands of the desert, blue for the rivers and lakes, tall items to represent mountain tops, greens to depict the lush rainforests,, do you have any animal figures or pictures you could add into the savannah, do you have any fairy lights that could represent the lights of cities?

Activity 2:

Can you lead an expedition and climb the highest mountain in Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro? What will you need on your trip? How will you cope with the cold temperatures at the top? How many days do you think you’ll be climbing for? Try some of these exercises for hikers.

Activity 3:

Can you travel by boat down the world’s longest river, the river Nile? Which countries  will you pass through? What animals and plants will you see on your journey? How quickly can you say the tongue twister “in a while, Nile Crocodile“? Follow some of the arm movements of these people paddling down the Nile.

Activity 4:

The Nile river no longer floods each year because in 1970 the Aswan High Dam was built to hold back the water. Create a tin foil river, curved up at the sides to create a long semi-circular tube shape, to flow water down the channel of, into a bowl. Using plasticine/bluetack/clay make a blockage in your tube ‘river’ to act as the dam. Flow water down your river, watch the water collect behind your dam. What happens when your dam breaks and the water rushes down – would it cause destruction to the villages along your river?




Friday 28 August

Daily activity 115: African art

Fact of the day: Traditional African fabric is hand-made using techniques that have often been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years.

Activity 1:

Ankara cloth is a colourful material made using a printing technique that uses wax to resist the dye (similar to Asian Batik).

You could try making wax resist art of your own. Try rubbing a wax candle, or wax crayon on card into a pattern. Paint the card and the pattern will appear, resisting the paint.

If you want to try it with cloth, mix a flour/water ‘paste’ and apply thickly to fabric with a piping bag or make thin trails of it into a pattern, in whatever pattern you want! Dry with a hairdryer. Or, use thick PVA glue trails using a nozzle and allow to dry overnight. Use thinned down acrylic paint, or a natural dye such as beetroot, and brush on. Dry with a hairdryer. Then peel off dried ‘paste’ or glue to reveal the resist pattern beneath!

Activity 2:

Wear your most colourful, Ankara-style clothing for an African inspired fashion shoot or catwalk runway of your own.

Kente cloth, (known as nwentom to the Akan people of Ghana), is a type of fabric made of interwoven cloth strips, men tended to wear it toga style; or tied over one shoulder.  Women traditionally wear Kente cloth as a wraparound dress or skirt. Tie fabric around yourself in this way for the next part of your fashion shoot or catwalk show!

Activity 3:

The folktale, ‘The Spider Weaver; the Legend of Kente Cloth’ tells the tale of how Kente cloth was inspired by a master spider weaver. Read, or ask somebody to read to you the story.

Can you act out the actions of weaving, as done by the spider: ‘Dip! Twist. Turn and glide. The spider made her way across and back over the web. She moved like a woman dancing, regal and very graceful.’

You could try weaving paper, in the style of Kente cloth by making decorative strips to weave.



Why not take photos of any of the activities you’ve tried this week and share it with us? You can share them on our FacebookInstagram or Twitter or send it to melanie@purplepatcharts.org and we’ll put it online for you!