Browse By Migrations Geography Timeline Source Materials Education Materials Search
Colonization and Emigration
Exploring Ethnic Groups in Africa Lesson Plan
Many African Americans emigrated from the United States during the Nineteenth century, hoping to find freedom, prosperity, and acceptance in other countries. Although these immigrants were well accepted in some areas, the immigrants and native ethnic groups clashed in others. As detailed in the narrative Colonization and Emigration, students will research the ethnic groups located in African countries where African Americans immigrated.
Grade Levels:Middle and high school, grades 6-12
For use with:Colonization and Emigration
Concentration Area:History
Concentration Area:World Cultures
National Curriculum Standards met by this lesson
The following standards have been taken from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning ( standards.
Students will understand

  • Understand the physical and human characteristics of place.
  • Know how international migrations are shaped by push and pull factors (e.g., political conditions, economic incentives, religious values, family ties).
Time required
Four-five 45-minute class periods
Materials needed
  • Narrative, Colonization and Emigration
  • Copies of Africa Political Map, with the country names labeled
  • Colored Pencils
  • Access to research materials, including the Internet
  • Overhead projector or chalkboard
Anticipatory Set

  • This lesson assumes that students have the necessary research and presentation skills. If they do not, extra time will be needed to integrate lessons on these skills. Research materials may be gathered from the school library and public library if students will do research in the classroom.
  • Also, the narrative Colonization and Emigration should be read either as a class or as homework before this lesson.
  • The word "tribe" should not be used. It is a derogatory term when used in the wrong context. A tribe is similar to a clan, a confederation of families; it is a small unit. Africans belong to ethnic groups the same way Europeans do. The use of one term for Africans and another for Europeans when they reflect the same reality is indicative of bias. This should be made clear to students.
    1. Ask students the following questions:

      1. What are the regions of the United States?
      2. How are regions determined?
    2. Use these questions to have students begin thinking about regional characteristics so that they can apply this discussion to regions in Africa.

    1. Pass out the Africa maps. Color the regions in the same color. For example, green for West Africa and orange for Central Africa:

      1. West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo
      2. Central Africa: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe
    2. Discuss the geography, comparing the two regions, as follows.

      1. West Africa: very diverse - desert, tropical forest, humid in the South, rich in natural resources.
      2. Central Africa: rain forest basin of the Congo River.
    3. Just as in the United States, cultural differences exist between regions as people adapted to the area in which they lived. During this lesson, have students research an ethnic group in Africa, exploring the cultures in countries where African Americans emigrated as detailed in the Colonization and Emigration. For comparison, one group will research the culture of African Americans. Have students select an ethnic group from the list below and work in groups of two-three students.

      1. Temne
      2. Mandingo
      3. Fulani
      4. Bullom
      5. Kru
      6. Vai
      7. Kissi
      8. Grebo
      9. Bassa
      10. Kpelle
      11. African Americans
    4. For their topic, students will research the following:

      1. Country & location within the country
      2. Language
      3. Religion
      4. Food
      5. Size of ethnic group today
      6. Homes
      7. Clothing
      8. Customs
      9. History of group
      10. Other interesting facts
    5. Provide students with at least two research periods and one period to complete their posters. Or if you prefer, you can turn this into a long-term project for students to complete at home.

    1. Assign students to use their research for each group to create:

      1. a poster with illustrations and information about their ethnic group;
      2. a poster with a large map of the country with areas of the group highlighted plus an inset map showing where the country is located in Africa;
      3. a typed bibliography page; and
      4. an oral presentation.
    2. Assess students' work according to the 50-point rubric below for this assignment. You can double the point total for a score out of 100 percent or a letter grade assignment.
    Grading Criteria Poor Fair Good Excellent
    Informational Poster is well designed with illustrations and facts 1 - 5 6 - 10 11 - 15 16 - 20
    Maps are accurate and colored 1 - 3 4 - 6 7 - 8 9 - 10
    Bibliography is complete and correct 1 - 3 4 - 6 7 - 8 9 - 10
    Oral Presentation 1 - 3 4 - 6 7 - 8 9 - 10

    Related Works
    Interdisciplinary Links

    • Technology: The research project could be extended into a final project using Microsoft PowerPoint®. Students would create a slide show presentation of their research.
    • Art: Coordinating with the art teacher, students could include an artistic component for this project by creating the poster in a particular style, as studied in art.
    Home About Glossary The New York Public Library
    Privacy Policy | Rules & Regulations | Using the Internet | Website Terms & Conditions

    © The New York Public Library, 2005.