Overview of Curriculum Units

Grades K-2

In Cultures, Critters, and Communities, lower primary grades students learn about the interconnectedness within and between communities worldwide. The study of South African cultures, wildlife, and physical geography serves as the focal point for students’ developing awareness of their own cultures and their responsibilities within the local community. Specifically, students will learn about the visible and invisible features of culture, concluding that humans are more alike than different. The beautiful diversity evident in South African cultures and landscapes invites children to reflect upon the rich diversity in their own communities and how people work to protect vulnerable and endangered species. Lastly, contemporary global interdependence is explored through the marketplace. Students learn how South African beaded clothing reflects their cultural traditions and the available natural materials in the local environment. The unit’s summative assessment empowers children to design and sell a product that uses natural materials to express their own culture.

Grade 3

In this 3rd grade curriculum unit on Cultural Diversity, students learn about the concept of culture and cultural universals with emphasis on traditions, food, folktales, and schooling. The study of South Africa’s “Rainbow Nation” focuses students’ learning as they acquire greater understanding of how cultural practices and traditions are influenced and sustained by the dynamic diversity of their populations. Using photographs, children’s books, videos, and other authentic learning materials, students make connections to their own cultural heritage and lived experiences.

Grades 4-5

In Critical Conversations about Conservation, students learn about diverse ecosystems in the United States and Africa, including how humans and nonhuman animals meet their wants and needs using Earth’s natural resources. The causes and effects of contemporary environmental issues, such as resource depletion and pollution, in both locations are also examined. Students’ conceptual understanding of cause and effect, sustainability, interdependence, and conservation will be fostered through written reflections, engaging in Socratic dialogue about the issues presented, comparing and contrasting examples, creating flip books and digital posters, among other authentic activities. Students will recognize environmental problems as global issues all humans face, and become empowered to make a difference. The unit’s culminating project engages students in designing art from repurposed trash to support water conservation in a region of their choosing.

South African Inspired Activities for the Physical Education and Music Classroom engages students in learning about the concept of culture with emphasis on South African music and sports. This integrated unit plan fosters students’ understanding of how cultural narratives are reflected in their art forms and games. Recognizing human culture as a dynamic social phenomenon, students will compare and contrast traditional and modern South African games and songs with relevant American examples. As children analyze South African history, traditions, and beliefs, they will develop self-awareness and a greater understanding of our nation’s cultural diversity, including the struggles of diverse groups of people. Through the study of music and movement, students appreciate the power of such art forms as cultural equalizers. The unit’s summative assessment engages students in writing an original speech piece for which they will compose a three-part instrumental accompaniment and game or dance.