The Hunter Using Children's Literature to Teach the Geography of Africa

Lesson Plan Grades 1-2, adaptable to Grade 6

Pat Lissandrello Braintree Elementary School


Introduction: This lesson shows how the interaction of physical and human processes shapes places. In this case, the physical/human interaction explored is the impact of poaching on endangered elephants in Nigeria through the narrative presented in Paul Geraghty's book The Hunter. It is also designed to help elementary students develop a "mental map" of Nigeria. This lesson can be adapted for other children's literature.

Objectives: The student should be able to:

(I) answer basic questions about the region and the use of natural resources,

(2) sketch a mental map of the story's setting, and

(3) find their way through the thematic maze/map (see below).

Geographic Themes: Relationships between humans and the environment.

National Geography Standards: Numbers 2 (use of mental maps to organize information about people, places, and the environment in a spatial context) and 14 (how human actions modify the physical environment).

State Geography Standards: State standard number 6.9 (the interrelationships among physical earth processes, ecosystems, and human activities).

Related Disciplines: social studies, language arts

Time: 1 class period


(1) The Hunter by Paul Geraghty (NY: Crown Books for Young Readers, 1994).

(2) wall-size world map 

(3) maze/map handout 

(4) paper and pencils


(1) As a class, locate Nigeria on a world map and review the region's primary geographic characteristics, both physical and human. Good references for teachers on Nigeria include:

Nigeria: A Country Study, Area Handbook Series, Department of the Army. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992.

One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest, Jean C. George. New York: Harper Children's Books, 1990. Written for grades 4- 7.

Internet Book of World Facts: Nigeria

(2) Have each student draw a "mental map" of the area. Students should picture in their mind where the story takes place, and make a sketch map that locates any physical or human features that they can think of and their spatial relationships.

(3) Give a brief introduction to the book, such as:

Nigeria has been involved in the ivory trade for a long time. Ivory is very valuable and comes from elephant tusks. Many, many elephants have been hunted and killed for their tusks and hides. Today there are laws to protect elephants, but people still hunt them. People who hunt against the law are called poachers. The story I am going to read is called The Hunter by Paul Geraghty. It is the story of a Nigerian girl named Jamina who rescues a baby elephant when his mother is killed by poachers.

(4) Read the story, then ask students questions about the story. Questions could include:

What did Jamina make believe she was?

What did her grandfather say about the hunters? What did Jamina find in the forest?

What did her grandfather say to do if you are lost in the forest?

When did Jamina change her mind about being a hunter? Why?

(5) Have students look at the maze/map and locate Jamina and the baby elephant. With a pencil, have students mark the trail that will lead Jamina and the baby elephant to the safety of the elephant herd.


Four-star guide: Congratulations! You have followed the directions and successfully guided Jamina and the baby elephant through the forest to the herd.

Three-star guide: You followed the directions well but became sidetracked in the forest.

Apprentice guide: You needed help with directions and lost your way in the forest.

Guide-to-be: Go back to guide school. You need to sharpen your listening skills.


Environmental issues: Research the fishing and hunting regulations for the local area (with a possible visit from the fish and game warden), and develop related environmental projects.

Family life: Examine the role of the extended family in African life as compared to North American life.

(Note: double the size of the handout below before using)

Can you help Jamina and the baby elephant find the elephant herd?

Get Printable File Here


African Animals ABC by Philippa-Alys Browne. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1995. In simple rhymes and colored illustrations, 26 African animals come to life on the pages of this alphabet book. Browne portrays insects and mammals in vibrant paintings that celebrate the bold cultural patterns of Africa. Grades K-3.

Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions by Margaret W. Musgrove. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1992. Artists Leo and Diane Dillon won their second consecutive Caldecott Medal for this cultural exploration of twenty-six African peoples. " Another virtuoso performance. ...Such an astute blend of aesthetics and information is admirable, the child's eye will be rewarded many times over." --Booklist. ALA Notable Book; Caldecott Medal. Grades K-6.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain retold by Verna Aardema. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1992. A Nandi folktale from Kenya done as a cumulative rhyme relating how Ki-pat brought rain to the drought-stricken Kapiti Plain. Reading Rainbow book. Grades K-6.

Count Your Way Through Africa by Jim Haskins, Barbara Knutson (Illustrator). Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1990. Uses the Swahili words for the numbers from one to ten to introduce the land, history, and culture of Africa. Grades K-3.

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me by Maya Angelou, Margaret Courtney-Clarke (Illustrator). New York: Crown Books for Young Readers, 1996. This is the enchanting story of an eight-year-old girl named Thandi, her village, her mischievous brother, her best friend--a chicken--and the remarkable mural art that is produced by the Ndebele women. Features over 70 full-color photographs of the Ndebele people and their paintings. Grades K-3.

Village of Round and Square Houses by Anne Grifalconi. New York: Little Brown & Co., 1986. The story of the village of Tos--where the women live in round houses and the men live in square ones--is told from the point of view of a young girl who grew up there. Grifalconi's bold art and rhythmic storytelling make this a wonderful book for reading aloud. Grades K-6.

When Hippo Was Hairy and Other Tales from Africa by Nick Greaves, Rod Clement (Illustrator). Monroe, W A: Barron Juveniles,1991. This unusual book mixes fact and fiction to the delight and fascination of children. In it, 36 stories have been collected from authentic African folklore and mythology. Each is introduced with a beautiful color illustration. Factual information about each animal follows each tale. Grades K-8.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in Peoples Ears: a West African Tale retold by Verna Aardema. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers,1992. In this Caldecott Medal winner, Mosquito tells a story that causes a jungle disaster. "Elegance has become the [illustrators] Dillons' hallmark. ...Matching the art is Aardema's uniquely onomatopoeic text. ...An impressive showpiece." --Booklist, starred review. Grades K-6.