Subjects in these plays which lend them selves to curriculum
Science: The Anansi tales offer a rich study of both
the wildlife of its various habitats:
Study the animals found in a rainforest habitat.
Identify the animals mentioned in these stories, including:
jungle animals: elephants, antelope, hippopotamus,
warthog, rhinoceros, ostrich, chimpanzee, turtle, lion,
gorilla, hyena, giraffe, bush deer, toucan, python, leopard, hornets
jungle vegetation: pineapple plants, palm trees, stringcreeper vines
The rainforest offers a good context for the study of:
the temperature and rainfall in the jungle (what conditions
conspire to create a jungle?)
Anansi and the Sky God’s Stories is a perfect illustration
Kwanzaa principle of Kuumba: Creativity. Discuss and/or
write about which Kwanzaa principles are inherent in each of
the other stories you read.
Discuss the symbolism of the "trickster" in our own lives.
Why have Anansi stories lasted until the present day,
as teaching stories?
Study the cultures of different countries on the African continent.
Illustrate the similarities and differences of each culture by
Study wildlife and water conservation strategies in Africa,
How much of the human body is actually water?
Example of word problem:
Using an African map and its legend, estimate the numbers
of miles herds of animals may have to travel to find water
during a drought in Africa.
Study the different styles of African tribal
choose one and replicate it.
Compose or select a song to be inserted into the story.
Choreograph and/or learn an African challenge dance.
The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa
Discuss the Kwanzaa principles, what they mean and how they
apply to us. In each of the seven stories in the play, identify
the principle being illustrated and discuss the topics suggested
by the story:
How does compromise promote unity?
birds: what differentiates members of the bird family
from other animal families?
why can't chickens fly and while eagles can
self-image: what does it mean to "know thyself?"
Collective Work and Responsibility
Identify the following farm animals in this story:
dog, cat, mouse, goat, horse, rooster, bull
Fights: what are the problems inherent in trying to
resolve problems through fighting?
This story can help us understand something about the world of
work, especially community helpers who are the providers of services:
Discuss what "tailors" do and their role in the community.
What is meant by "delegating?" Why is it important in a large
group or organization?
What can be learned from the lesson of "completing your work?"
Why is it important to have a sense of purpose in life?
Make a list of at least five goals you have for yourself this year.
Why do all cultures have celebrations? What is their purpose
in a healthy community?
What are rituals? Why do communities, families and individuals
Discuss the theme of group vs. individual need? How can a
strong sense of purpose help us balance the two?
(See the Anansi stories above)
What is meant by faith? Does it apply in non-religious
instances as well?
What are prospectors? What is their role in the community?
Discuss the difference between prospectors in the early years
of this country, and present day.
Identify the animals which appear in this story: owl, mule
What is meant by treasure? In what other types of stories
does treasure feature prominently?
Why is money important? What problems can arise in
conection with money?
Which characters in this story illustrate "greed?" How can
this quality be a problem?
What is meant by positive thinking? Can it help us in
The following are curriculum suggestions and activities for the Seven
Principles of Kwanzaa in different subject areas:
Read Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, other Anansi stories,
and more African folktales.
Discuss and/or write about
which Kwanzaa principles are inherent in each of the play's stories.
Study the cultures of different countries on the African continent.
Write papers, draw native costumes, play music or do dance steps
to illustrate the similarities and differences of each culture.
Discover how candles are made and why they burn. Make red,
green and black candles.
On a large map of Africa, draw pictures
(or cut pictures out of magazines) of the kinds of crops
grown in different regions. Underneath the picture, write
the name of the crop, what conditions are needed to grow it and
how it is grown and harvested.
Compare population figures, rainfall and sizes of countries
Find out what average wages are in African cities
and determine how much money workers make per hour, per day,
per week and per year. Compare with minimum wages in the United States.
Draw and construct
masks based on native designs in various
Listen to music from different African cultures and discuss
or write about the differences and similarities.
In small groups, learn and perform short dances from
a variety of African cultures.
What contributions did these people make to American society and
Write your own plays about these people or an incident
in their lives or about the civil rights movement.
Find and read the writings by famous African American artists
(e.g., Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha)
Study African American history during the Reconstruction
Era immediately following the Civil War up through the end
of World War I as a basis for understanding the civil rights
movement in the 1960s.
Compare the life of a slave before
the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 with the life of
a free black person in the decades immediately following.
How were things better? worse?
Research various successes
in business by African Americans.
How were modes of
transportation different then and now.
Study the chemical/biological make up of hair and hair products.
What is the biological/ chemical differences between hair
of different ethnicities and/ or different coloration.
the chemical reactions of cosmetics and hair products.
What do they actually do to the body and how do they do it?
Research the results of product testing on the test animals
used for today's research. Is testing new products on animals
Madam C.J. Walker started her business with nothing but a
dream and her own creativity.
What kind of structure did
she develop to build her financial empire? How did it work?
How did the people that she hired become wealthy?
Compare prices for daily goods and services between the
late 1900s and today. (e.g., twenty five cents for a movie
in 1912 and $10.00 for a ticket today.) What percentage of
increase was that?
Compare wages between the late 1900s
and today. (e.g., $5.00 a week in 1906 and $5 per hour today.)
What percentage increase was that?
Have wages increased
more or less than the cost of goods and services during
the same period? What impact does this have on American economy?
Subjects for thematic study in the visual arts, for the various periods
indicated in the script, include:
advertising posters and design.
Draw pictures of each of these things.
Imagine that Madam C.J. Walker is selling her products today.
Make a poster for her products for today’s consumers.
Listen to recorded music of each of the periods represented
in the script.
Learn to sing spirituals, and popular music
for each of the periods.
Compare music for each of these
periods created by and popular to African Americans and
the general public.
Choreograph and/or learn dances popular in the periods
indicated in the script.
Take any scene in the play and
create a dance that represents the feelings or mood of the story.