Nigeria Unit Study: Week 4

Our final week of Nigeria will end with a ton of science! The beautiful and wonderous ecosystem of Nigeria will introduce us to some amazing (and scary) animals. We will take a closer look at one of earth’s most interesting processes—the nitrogen cycle—and we will practice our research and travel planning skills. And finally, we will conclude with a traditional dish, beef suya and jollof rice! But first, print out your skills tracker here. As the ancient Nigerian proverb says: Seeing is better than hearing. So, let’s begin!

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Optional chapter books:

Optional additional reading:

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

Note: We break down our supply list so you can choose what you need based on which lessons you plan to do with your child.

Wind turbine:

Research paper or lapbook:

DIY fabric dyeing:

Peanut sprouting activity:

Beef Suya recipe:

Jollof rice recipe:

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on your child’s knowledge, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Let’s introduce a chapter book this week. Choose between Anna Hibiscus to read a heartwarming story of a family in Nigeria or The No 1 Car Spotter for any car loving, adventurous students.

Activity 1: Whether in urban or rural areas, the family is the central institution, especially in Nigeria. Families gather to celebrate births, weddings, and funerals. Because so many Nigerians live outside the country, funerals for non-Muslims are often delayed for a month or more to allow all the family members to make plans to return home. (source

Read Nigeria Enchantment of the World, pages 116-121, for a glimpse into village and city life.

Read about another important community structure in Nigeria in the book  Ogbo Sharing Life in an African Village by Ifeoma Onyefulu (or read it here on OpenLibrary).

Writing assignment + critical thinking activity: As we learn about different cultures, we can often notice and focus on many of our differences. After reading the story, can you find any similarities between Nigerian culture and your own? Does your community have a support system similar to that of the ogbo? If not, how do you think you would benefit from being a part of an ogbo? What, if any, drawbacks would there be in this kind of community friend group?

Activity 2: Discover festivals. There are many festivals in Nigeria. The Lagos Carnival is the most prominent carnival in West Africa and is held during the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. The Carnival was introduced over a century ago by “emancipados” (emancipated slaves) and their descendants from Brazil, Cuba, and West African countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia. The returnees brought with them vibrant carnival culture which evolved over time to become what is now known as Lagos Carnival. The event showcases the culture of Lagosians with colorful fashion, music, and dances through the streets. Traditional rulers also come out in their regalia to add radiance to the occasion. (source)

Ask your child to plan an imaginary trip to Nigeria during Carnival. Use this travel budget worksheet to track the estimated costs. Research the trip on the internet to search for the dates of the next Lagos Carnival. How long is the festival? What will the weather be like during that time of year? Search airfare and hotels prices and add them to your travel budget. Will you rent a car or use public transportation? What other travel tips can you find from travel bloggers about traveling to Nigeria?

Activity 3: Discover the major religions of Nigeria. Nigerians in earlier times were free to put faith in whatever and whoever was most dear to their tribes and themselves. Indigenous religions soon became an important tradition of Nigerian society. 

Later, Islam became firmly established in northern Nigeria. The introduction of Christianity began with the arrival of British missionaries in the middle and southern regions of Nigeria. Today, while almost all Nigerians are either Christian or Muslim, many continue to mingle these faiths with indigenous beliefs. This mix of religious practice is a result of Nigerians’ traditional belief in freedom of worship. (source)

Read Nigeria Enchantment of the World, pages 93-103, for more details on the beliefs and celebrations of both Islamic and Christian Nigerians. 

Take a look at some of the more famous Nigerian mosques here. Examine the construction of a mosque in the book by David Macaulay, Mosque. It follows the building work of a mosque from blueprint to completion. As you read on page 70, ceramic tile work is an important part of the design and architecture of a mosque. Many Islamic scientists, astronomers and mathematicians have influenced the culture of many nations, which is probably why there seems to be so much integration between math and Islamic art. Create your own symmetrical art with the help of this blog. Read through the entire lesson to learn about the different kinds of symmetries and repeating patterns in Islamic art. Print this grid to make your own, (-) or try this coloring sheet

Lesson 2: 

Activity 1:  Discover Inventor Sebastine Chinonye Omeh. He is best known for his research into the use of wind-propelled turbines to generate electricity in Nigeria. He is from Ogrute, a town in Igbo-Eze North. He is a graduate of engineering from the University of Nigeria. Challenged by the energy crisis in Nigeria and the need to develop indigenous technology, he conducted research into the use of wind-propelled turbines to generate electricity, thereby pioneering wind energy technology in Nigeria.

Let’s learn what wind turbines are and how they work by watching this video.
Next, create your own wind turbine and see it in action with this tutorial.

Activity 2: Discover Nigeria’s largest National Park is Gashaka-Gumti. Gashaka-Gumti National Park is located in a mountainous region of North-east Nigeria bordering Cameroon which covers 6,731 square km of wilderness. No roads cross this remote region, and only a few lonely footpaths wind through the forested mountains towards Cameroon. Visitors to the park are able to enjoy lush forests, wide sweeping grasslands, cool highland plateaus, rugged moody mountains, abundant wildlife, and fascinating ethnic cultures, all combined within a single protected area. There is a huge variety of different habitats within Gashaka-Gumti National Park that makes the area so uniquely rich in wildlife. This includes montane grasslands; savanna woodlands; swamps; lakes; mighty rivers; dark lowland rainforests; and luxuriant, montane rainforests strewn with ferns and orchids. Each habitat supports its own distinctive community of plants and animals. (source)

Take a virtual visit by watching this video.

As you heard in this video, life in the national park is full of wildlife! It is a sanctuary for plants and animals alike. Next, read The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth, pages 14-17, to learn about healthy ecosystems.

Activity 3: Read + Discover. There are many animals listed among the inhabitants of the Gashaka-Gumti National Park, as you can read here. Among them are Africa’s wild dogs. Read about them here, here and here. After doing this research, present what you have learned either in (+) written form by writing a short research paper or by creating a lapbook. Include details about the wild dog’s habitat, appearance, diet and characteristics. 

Need tips on writing research papers? Here is a series of videos to help get started.

Lesson 3:

Does your child love animals? Let’s learn about a few more today.

Activity 1: One of the many animals that can be found in Nigeria is the chimpanzee. The Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee is a subspecies of the common chimpanzee which inhabits the rainforest along the border of Nigeria and Cameroon. The Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee has been classified as endangered, indicating a high risk of extinction in the near future. (source) Like all chimpanzees, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees are omnivores, meaning they eat foods that are of both plant and animal origin. Their diet fluctuates with the seasons and varies with their geographic location. That said, about half their diet consists of fruits; they prefer ripe fruits and have a special proclivity for figs, which are high in nutrition and provide a superior energy source. Young leaves along with stems, buds, pith, resins, bark, and seeds supplement the plant-based portion of their diet. Insects, small vertebrates, and eggs provide the chimpanzees with animal-based protein.

Chimpanzees are both arboreal and terrestrial, meaning they spend time in the trees as well as on the ground. They are active during daylight hours, making them diurnal. Most of their day is spent in the treetops, foraging, and eating. Peak feeding periods occur early morning and mid-to-late afternoon, with rest periods and mutual grooming sessions happening in between.(source)

(+) If your child enjoys animal research, then this educational website from Chimp Haven will keep them busy for days!

Movie night suggestion: Watch this Disney+ documentary about chimpanzees

For more lessons on this topic, be sure to check out our Level 2+: Monkeys + Apes Unit Study!

Activity 2: Next, we’ll take a closer look at a special group of decomposers called scavengers. A scavenger is an organism that mostly consumes decaying biomass, such as meat or rotting plant material. Many scavengers are a type of carnivore. Let’s learn about some of the most famous scavengers in the book Death Eaters: Meet Nature’s Scavengers

One impressive species of scavenger in the Nigerian rainforest is the driver ant. The driver ant is one of the African rainforest’s most aggressive life forms. During the rainy season, armies of driver ants move in columns of up to 20 million ants in search of prey. They swarm and devour everything in their path, including everything living or dead. They will eat millipedes, spiders, beetles, reptiles, and small mammals. Soldier ants protect the column by standing to one side with their jaws open. A driver ant’s jaw is so strong that some forest inhabitants use them to close wounds. (source)

You can see pictures and videos of driver ants here and here

As you can imagine, a hunt of this type requires excellent communication between the ants. How do ants communicate? Read this article to learn. 

Draw a detailed picture of a driver ant identifying all its body parts. This website has great pictures and this website identifies the body parts. 

Additional optional reading: For more on driver ants, read the book Driver Ants Army.

For more on the topic of decomposers and scavengers, don’t miss our Level 2+: Decomposers Unit Study.

Activity 3: Discover the nitrogen cycle. The Nigerian dwelling animals we have learned about over the past two days are all part of the nation’s thriving ecosystem. An important part of any healthy ecosystem is the nitrogen cycle. Watch this video to be introduced to this cycle. (+) Watch this one next to learn more. Read The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth, pages 98 and 99, to learn about this vital cycle in nature. 

Draw a picture of the nitrogen cycle. You can be inspired by the one on page 99. Not feeling artsy today? Use this digital worksheet to create the nitrogen cycle instead.

Lesson 4: 

Activity 1: Discover the clothing and fashion of Nigeria. Throughout our unit, we have seen a variety of clothing and fashion found in Nigeria. The various ethnic groups we have learned about each have their own traditional attires which they wear on special occasions, like traditional weddings and religious gatherings. Let’s take a closer look at what these pieces are called and how clothing was produced in Nigeria in times past. Read this post to see the variety of attire worn in Nigeria. 

Watch this video summary of Nigeria. Most of the information in the video is a review of what you have learned throughout the month. Focus on the clothing you see in the film. Do you see the variety and beautiful colors in Nigerian garb? 

Read the box on page 112 in Nigeria Enchantment of the World to learn about the dying process used to reach that indigo color seen in so much of Nigerian clothing.

Men and women both act as weavers and dyers. Weaving is done on different types of looms. Weavers create hundreds of different patterns on their looms. Wild silk and cotton are used to make cloth. Indigo, a native plant, is often used as a dye to color threads. (source)

Traditionally, the cloth was dyed in deep holes in the ground that were filled with a mixture of water and the dye powder. The cloth was then dried in the open air to set the color. Click here to watch a video about the process, and then do the activity on that page to try it yourself!

Want to try making your own dye to use? Try this food-based dye tutorial!

Activity 2: We all love to play games and sports. Read the book Ebel’s Favourite: A book of African Games (or read it here in OpenLibrary) to learn about a few games that children in Nigeria enjoy playing. The book includes instructions, so try playing as many as you like.

Sports that are enjoyed in Nigeria include football (soccer), boxing, Dambe Boxing (a Hausa Martial Sports), rugby, track and field, and basketball. (source) Nigeria has had many appearances (and had many wins) in the Summer Olympics. But in 2018, Nigeria made its first appearance in the Winter Olympics! Read this article to learn about Nigerians all-woman Bobsled team.

Activity 3: Print this fact finder game to review your favorite parts of the Nigeria Unit. Once you have printed the page, ask your child to write out questions in the Q boxes and the answers to those questions in the A boxes. Next, follow this video tutorial to learn how to fold it and play! Play with your child and quiz family members on their knowledge of Nigerian facts.

Activity 4: End the day by listening to this story podcast set in Nigeria.

Lesson 5:

We’ll end the week with some food history about peanuts!

Activity 1: Nigeria is the largest peanut producer in Africa. In 2023, the production is expected to total around 3 million metric tons, making it the 3rd largest producer in the world, after China and India. During the 1960s, Nigeria was also the largest peanut exporter in the world, but currently, most of its peanut production is meant for domestic consumption. (source) But the peanut is not originally from Africa. Watch this video to learn the history and biology of the peanut.

Get a close up look inside a peanut in this labeled illustration. Next, let’s sprout some peanuts! Follow this step-by-step tutorial to get your peanuts sprouting into plants.

Activity 2: The peanut is often used in Nigerian cooking. It is also an ingredient in the Nigerian spice known as suya. Suya is popular in street food, and Lagos is a city full of street food!

Watch this video to get to know Lagos and the street foods enjoyed there. (Note: The video’s host will eat beef suya at about 13:00—you may wish to skip there if your child is not interested in watching the full video.) Click here to read the ingredients included in the suya spice mixture. You can prepare your own spice mixture or buy it already prepared.

Next, prepare this beef suya recipe. Complete your meal with this jollof rice recipe. Now, you are eating like a local!

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Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.