South African Inspired Activities for the Physical Education and Music Classroom

Lesson 1: Culture through Games and Sports

North Carolina Essential Standards

5.C.1.4 Understand how cultural narratives (legends, songs, ballads, games, folk tales and art forms) reflect the lifestyles, beliefs and struggles of diverse ethnic groups.

Prerequisite Knowledge

Students have attended, seen, or participated in soccer in school or at home.


Students will be able to:

  • state the meaning of culture and give examples of food, games, sports, celebrations and music that are part of their culture.
  • identify reasons for participating in sports and games. 
  • compare these reasons for participation between South Africa and the United States.


  • Students will write an exit ticket demonstrating their learning.


Both students and teacher will need access to internet.

Online resources:

            • Cultures Around the World” by Neyra Hanley [video]
            • “Soccer in South Africa” [video created by the authors of S. African children playing soccer, as well as screenshots from The Beautiful Game]
            • The Beautiful Game documentary [travels across Africa to follow six unforgettable, dynamic Africans who are beating the odds on and off the pitch]



Prior Preparation

  • Prepare projector and speakers for showing video.
  • Print phrases from the book Goal!


  1. Introduce the unit South African Inspired Activities for the Physical Education and Music Classroom to the students. Explain to the students that over a five-lesson unit they will learn about the the concept of culture with emphasis on South African music and sports. Students will explore soccer, netball, stick fighting, African instruments, music compositions, and more!
  2. Begin by discussing: “What is culture and how does it influence music, sports and games?”

Guided Practice

Part I

  1. Play the video “Cultures Around the World” by Neyra Hanley.
  2. Introduce the cultural wheel and complete the cultural wheel as a whole class activity. This includes filling out the empty circles with things that make up a person’s culture.  
  3. Guide students toward the facts that sports and games are also part of culture and reflect community lifestyles and beliefs.  
  4. Afterwards, present the activity for “realistic reasons” for participating in sports and game as opposed to “wishful” reasons.
  5. In small groups, list possible answers, such as fun, exercise, teamwork, make friends, competition, confidence, discipline, communication, leadership, as well as non-realistic reasons - fame, money, popularity, be on television.  
  6. As a group, students place answers into one of the categories of realistic or not.
  7. Discuss how people believe sports can help them rise and improve their current lifestyle including one’s living conditions and access to resources to lead a happier healthier life.
  8. Show clip of “The Beautiful Game” It follows 6 different soccer players who are striving to succeed through their sport.  Play the first 7 minutes
  9. Discuss the film and how these individuals believe that playing soccer will lift them out of poverty and make life better for them and their families. Although they do not all aspire to be professional athletes, there are other benefits of being involved in sports - stay healthy, less likely to use drugs/alcohol, drop out of school, or join a gang. In addition, they all talk about giving back to their community.

Part II

  1. Students will receive a list of phrases from the book, Goal! As a group at their tables,  they will decide whether these phrases describe American soccer or South African soccer or both.  They will highlight or underline the word or words that supports their reasoning.
  2. Read the book Goal! starting with the author’s note: “To this day in the face of poverty, bully rulers, and unsafe alley’s, people play soccer.”
  3. After reading book, discuss phrases and how it relates to the book. Ask whether some of the same things  could be true for the United States or just South Africa and can sports can be an escape from life’s struggles?


  1. Review what culture is and how it influences sports and games.
  2. Have students to complete the exit slip to demonstrate their learning.