Little Explorers A Mini Study of Kenya by One Hundred and One Pursuits
Learning Through Literature, Reception

A Mini Study of Kenya – Inspired by ‘Mama Panyas Pancakes’

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Little Explorers A Mini Study of Kenya by One Hundred and One Pursuits

This month we have a been on a mini virtual tour of Kenya. Inspired by one of our family read alouds ‘Mama Panyas Pancakes’ by Mary and Rich Chamberlin. This story tells the tale of a little Boy called Adika and his mother who live in a little Kenyan Village. They end up inviting some friends over for traditional Kenyan pancakes.

Over the course of several weeks we have located Kenya on the map, drawn the countries flag, located it’s capital city, taken tours inside local villages, cooked traditional cuisine and visited some of the countries most famous land marks. All from the comfort of our very own home.

Where is Kenya?

Locating Kenya on The Map Homeschool Studies

After our first read through of ‘Mama Panya’s Pancakes M jumped straight over to the map to discover exactly where Kenya was.

I first asked M to locate Africa on the Map. Then prompted him to find the East of Africa. We had recently taken a mini tour of Egypt so finding Africa was a breeze! All our compass work seems to have paid off ! M  managed to find the East of Africa with ease. With a little further direction was able to locate Kenya. We created an elephant to mark the country on the map.

What is the capital city of Kenya?

In the story Adika and his mother live in a small village of Kenya and we are given a tiny glimpse into what village life would be like there. We also hit Youtube to take a look at some short clips and documentaries about villages too. This led M to ask about the cities. So, using the information included at the back of this amazing book we took a closer look at the map of Kenya.

We located Nairobi on the map and I discussed with M that Nairobi was the capital city of Kenya. We also did a quick review of the capital cities of England (London) and Egypt (Cairo), which both he and A remembered very well.

Lake Victoria and it’s connection to the Nile

One of my aims when it comes to studying geography with M at this early stage is not for him to memorise a bunch of facts that seem unconnected but to be form connections and associations, links and ideas about the globe as a whole. When looking at the Map of Kenya we took a look at the lakes we could see. Their are actually 9 lakes in Kenya (that I have been able to discover anyway) and according to ‘Mama Panyas Pancakes’, the largest of which is Lake Turkana!

However, a small portion of the third largest lake in the world lies on the western boarder of Kenya. This is the lake that I really wanted to cover with M as it feeds directly into the river Nile. This connection between Kenya and Egypt helped M see that not only countries that lie either side of each other connected by land but that countries that are further away from one another are still connected by large bodies of water.

During our discussion of Lake Victoria we also touched briefly of the effects of rubbish and pollution that enters lakes, like Lake Victoria, that connect to the Nile and how that pollution moves through the water system all the way to Egypt at the other end of The Nile.

Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya is the second largest mountain in Africa. To explore this beautiful place we took a look at this Youtube clip. I liked it as there is no talking just a beautiful look at all you would see on a hike or climb up to the top of mount Kenya.

I then read aloud to M these Primary Facts about Mount Kenya and discussed some of the points with M in more detail.

Speaking Kiswahili

Did you know that the language of Kenya is actually called Kiswahili although it is more popularly known as Swahili? Neither did I! 

Honestly there is so much information crammed into this children’s picture book including information about the languages spoken in Kenya and some common phrases for you to try.

We had great fun trying to pronounce the words in Kiswahili and I even caught M using them in his pretend play a few days later.

If you like the idea of your children learning multiple languages with your little ones these Swahili children’s DVD’s look great!

The Kenyan Flag

Hand drawn and coloured flag of Kenya Kindergarten craft

You’ll see above that I took a stab with my very poor drawing skills at copying out a picture of the Kenyan Flag for M to colour. We then taped it to a drinking straw to create the flag. Fortunately I managed to get a picture quickly because within 10 minutes A succeeded in ripping the flag in to two! Ah the joys of homeschooling with toddlers by your side!

Exploring The National Parks

Kenya is possibly most famous for it’s national parks and amazing wildlife. This is the perfect chance to read some of those other great African picture books and take a closer look at the animals you might find in Kenya.

We watched another short Youtube clip on Nairobi’s national park and noted all the animals we would find there.

  • Lions
  • Cheetas
  • Lynx
  • Antelope
  • Elephants
  • Monkeys
  • Buffalo
  • Lizards
  • Butterflies
  • Warthogs
  • Rhino’s
  • Zebras
  • Giraffes
  • Cranes

Those are just a few of the animals we discovered.

Here are some of the picture books we read to become more familiar with African Wild Life.

 Mathematics with Mama Panya and Adika

On the way to the market Adika invites many of their friends to join them for pancakes that evening. Mama Panya poses the question of how many people they had invited all together. On our second read through of the story I had M and A keep track of how many people would be joining Adika and his mother. For each person who accepted the invitation one pom pom was added to the bowl. Before we reached the end of the story I had them count the pompoms and declare how many people they thought would be there. We checked their answer by counting all of the people that arrived at the end of the story.

Kenyan Cuisine

Finally, no study of ‘Mama Panyas Pancakes’ would be complete without trying out the Kenyan pancake recipe included at the back of the book. I’ll admit we left out the chilli pepper on this occasion! The boys enjoyed testing out their Mathematics skills by reading the amounts of ingredients we needed and measuring them out.

Bubbles forming in Kenyan pancakes frying in a pan for our homeschool cookery class and mini study of Kenya.

They also had fun watching and waiting for the bubbles to form in the pancakes.

You may also like to read our : Mini Study of Egypt & Day of Learning Inspired By Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

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