Third grade “travels” to Africa

Article courtesy of Mrs. Snow

 Mrs. Snow’s third-grade class “traveled” to Africa.  Our fabulous “tour guide,” Ms. Sonneschein, took the students on amazing adventures, which included going on a safari at Kruger National Park, eating wild animals, visiting with the natives and seeing the largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls!  

Ms. Sonneschein told exciting stories, including how a nine-year-old boy put their whole group in danger while out on safari!  She described how a group of elephants surrounded them, so silently that she did not even realize they were there, until someone tapped her on the shoulder!  Then the boy stood up and startled a mother elephant!  The mother elephant became very agitated and stomped her feet and fanned her ears! The director said, “Young man, sit down!” and he did, so the mother elephant calmed. She went on to explain that the director would keep a rifle in the jeep, so that if an animal was going to attack, he would shoot the gun to scare the animal away, but not harm the animal. The group also saw lions stalking zebra (pronounced zeb-ra in Africa), then hunting them down to eat.  She taught the students how the female lions do all the hunting to feed the pride. She saw water buffalo with Ox Pickers (birds) on them. Then she went on a walking tour to see rhinos grazing in a field. Ms. Sonneschein also told the children that she ate warthog and Kudu, an African antelope, and that they were delicious! 

Ms. Sonneschein expressed how poor the native people were where she visited.  The people lived in houses with grass roofs, ate out of bowls with no silverware, got water from wells, had no bathroom inside and washed their clothes in the river.  She showed them pictures of a little school building where the children went to school, but had no desks, chairs, or supplies and sat on the floor to learn!  Ms. Sonneschein generously brought extra suitcases to Africa with her, filled with new clothes for the natives and school supplies for the children! The natives entertained them with dancing and playing drums. When they worked they only made pennies a day. Ms. Sonneschein taught our children that even though the natives were poor, they were happy and that the students should be, “thankful for the things that you have!” 

Ms. Sonneschein then “took the students” to Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall, which is over a mile long!  She recounted how it was a dangerous place to visit and that the Zimbabwe police followed them around to keep the “Americans” safe! She described a beautiful rainbow above the falls on the day she was there! 

Ms. Sonneschein brought hundreds of pictures of her adventures on safari, the native villages and Victoria Falls! She also brought beautiful wooden animal sculptures and different bowls made by the native people for the children to see! Ms. Sonneschein even brought African snacks and candy for the children to share! We are so grateful to Ms. Sonneschein for sharing her adventures of Africa with us. 

On our travels to Africa, Mrs. Seward, the Art Teacher, taught the children about African masks!  The students designed and then made their very own African masks out of paper mâché, which was fun and very messy!  Then the students painted their masks in the traditional African colors. Finally, Ms. Seward allowed the children to use all of her supplies, including beads, buttons, feathers, raffia and metallic markers to make their masks authentic and beautiful!  We cannot thank Mrs. Seward enough for her generosity and extra time!

Ms. Jamin and Mr. Mangiaracina brought in their green screen technology to take pictures of the students to make them look like they were actually on a Safari in Africa. The students were allowed to pick the picture of their choice, and then stand in front of the green screen.  That is when Ms. Jamin and Mr. Mangiaracina made magic happen!  The students were magically transported to “Africa!” Not only did the students get a copy of their own special picture in Africa, but then they turned it into a postcard to send home to their parents/guardians!  It is a great “wish you were here” moment in time! Special thanks to the tech team duo and their special effects! 

As the day of travels went on, the students learned about the different regions and the rich resources in Africa.  African resources include diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, uranium and iron to name a few. The students learned how geodes were formed and then chose a geode that came directly from Morocco. Each student got to choose their own geode and crack it open to find beautiful sparkling crystals inside!  It was an unforgettable, and very loud, experience! Special thanks to Miss Kathy Jo for being willing to stand next to students holding hammers! 

Then the students learned about the Great Rift Valley, a continuous geographical trench that covers 4,300 miles from Lebanon, in Asia, to Mozambique, in South Africa, and can be seen from space. They explored how the trench was formed by doing an experiment using graham crackers and Cool Whip to represent the tectonic plate movement and separation. It was a fun and delicious experiment! 

Finally, the students wrote and presented their “10 Facts About an African Animal” reports. Fun and learning were had by all on our third-grade African adventure!