The Africa Classroom Package: Lessons and Activities

Story Poems

The activities on this page relate to the story poems found in the Reading Fun section.

Duma: Topi and sassaby are different names for the same animal - a speedy large antelope with thick, gnarly horns.

Story versions of this poem can be found in the book, When Hippo Was Hairy: And Other Tales from Africa told by Nick Greaves (Barron's), [How Cheetah Got Its Speed and Why the Cheeks of a Cheetah Are Stained with Tears]. A comparison can make the point that literary techniques and devices aren't always limited by genre. Because each section of the poem tells a story, it has a plot, characters, tension and a resolution, just like the story versions. Have students make a thorough comparison between the poem and story versions. How are the two versions similar/different? What details are lost in the poem? What is gained via poetry?

Creative Writing Idea: Have students write a poem or a story explaining how the cheetah got its spots. Illustrate and display.

Language Arts Activity: Read more stories that explain why animals are the way they are in the book, When Hippo Was Hairy. In small groups, have students convert the stories into poetry. See Safari!'s Curriculum Connections pages for tips about teaching poetry writing. Variation: After reading a few stories, have students write their own.

Science Connection: What are the scientific/survival functions of the characteristics and behaviors of the animals featured in the how/why stories? What is the scientific explanation of how the animals got the way they are? Note: By the way, cheetahs are the only member of the cat family with unretractable blades.

Taken from The Culture Connection Newsletter, © Paul Hurteau.

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