Introducing Africa and the Anansi Tales

I was so looking forward to our introduction to Ancient Africa and the Anansi Tales, so in preparation, I went to the library for some Anansi Books.

The Anansi Tales, sometimes referred to as "Trickster Tales" sometimes portray Anansi, the lead character as a spider and sometimes as a man.  He is sometimes mentioned as an Africa god and sometimes as a trickster who is played by the gods.

But most of the time, the tales follow a similar pattern:  Anansi attempts to trick and is fooled himself, or someone is trying to trick Anansi and he ends up doing the fooling. 

Anansi as a spider AND as a man.
Now, I am always on the lookout for Literacy activities to follow up a good story.  And often, I end up creating them myself

So I'm going to share a bit of what I came up with to go along with these delightful stories.

This packet should work with any of the Anansi stories.  First, I wanted to make a printable Anansi the Spider.  Because sometimes, you just need a print and go craft.  Only other items needed here will be scissors, and either tape or glue.

But I wanted a follow-up activity to help with character mapping.  Because the Anansi stories are generally predictable, Anansi is a perfect subject to use for honing in on characteristics.  So, here: students can brainstorm as a class or group about various characteristics, and then choose one of those characteristics to complete the sentence. 

But what if you have just read a story where Anansi is portrayed as a man?

If you have the ability to take photos of your young readers, this could be a fun activity to implement:  turn them into little Anansis: 

With this half man/half spider persona, they can put themselves in Anansi's shoes:

Yes, that is my daughter's photo used as the spider head.  Here's what else we used:  Glue, black pepper, a pom pom and a small photo.

There are many ways to create a little spider on this African image, but this was what we did: glue is drawn for legs and pepper is sprinkled over.

Then we glued a black pompom in the center of the legs and added the photo to the top of that!  So quick, so easy, so fun. 

It was a fun intro to the Anansi Tales, and this craft, along with another Anansi story is available in our Anansi Tales Reading Literacy Packet in our store.

If you'd like additional African tales that branch out from Anansi, let me recommend the children's book author, Verna Aardema.

Almost every picture book she has written is a beautiful tale of Africa.  Some of my favorites are Koi and the Kola Nuts, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears and Anansi Finds a Fool.

Another item included in our reading packet is a map of Africa in both color and black and white.
Now, I wanted to do a project involving the African continent and I had seen this beautiful piece of art online:

If I could figure out who created it, I would give credit, but I could only find this image.  Still, it was so inspiring I thought I'd like to try to recreate something like it.

So we sketched a map of Africa on cardstock and laid out some broken crayons along the edge with tape.  We got out the blow dryer and tried blowing outward from the map.

We went on, all the way around and then removed all the crayons.  There were splotches of melted crayon in the center, too.  We cut out the center Africa shape.  The wax parts cut easily, too.

Then we glued the whole thing to a new piece of cardstock so we could see the beautiful shape of Africa very clearly.  

A fun craft and even if a little time-consuming, it definitely gave us a satisfying completed project and I think this will help my son remember the shape of Africa and the Anansi Tales which spring from it!

What other ideas do you have for Anansi Activities?  Please share in the comments below!


Anonymous said...

Loved this. :)

Christina Morrison said...

Yay! I'm so glad! :)

LearningWithMrsKirk said...

Wow! These are great ideas to connect the Anansi stories to other areas like geography and art! I especially like the crayon art around the outline of Africa. What a beautiful project!

Amanda said...

I love all these hands-on activities to learn about Anansi Tales! Everything looks so fun and engaging :) Thank you for sharing your awesome ideas!

Christina Morrison said...

Thanks, Amanda! You bet! We had a lot of fun with those crafts.