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Culture Conversation

Help students explore bits of the Swahili people by learning a handful of words in Kiswahili, a language spoken by over 45 million people in Eastern Africa. Encourage experimenting with different techniques of drawing & painting with the versatile Crayola Watercolor Pencils, as each person chooses their unique set of words & illustrations that they publish mini books. Your classroom can create its own mini Swahili library!

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. After reading Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book by Muriel Feelings with your class, discuss the information included in the preface as a group. Create a list of all the Kiswahili vocabulary words and meanings. Have students find the continent of Africa on a map or globe and the countries where Kiswahili is the primary language.
    2. Using the large, white paper provided in the Crayola Giant Marker & Watercolor Pad, demonstrate the steps on how to create an 8-page book: •Holding paper vertically, fold in half, from top to bottom. Ask students about the fraction “one half.” •Fold in half again, from top to bottom again. Ask students about “one quarter.” •Fold again, this time from side to side and ask about “one eighth.” •Open paper to full size; folds should have created 8 sections (review fractions). •Now holding paper vertical again, fold in half, this time from bottom to top. Warn students to keep paper exactly in this position for the next step. •Use Crayola Pointed Tip Scissors and cut along one half of the fold, in the center, from the folded edge to the spot where the folds intersect. •Open paper so is full size again, and place it horizontally. •Re-fold paper in half, from top down, and re-crease fold. •With hands on each side, pick up paper so that the folded (and now cut section) is at the top. Holding loosely the cut section should now create a diamond shape. •Push hands towards each other until the diamond shape closes and lays flat on table/desk. Flatten the center and re-crease all of the folds. The book is now in an open position. •Fold the book in half, from side to side (as if closing a book) and re-crease folds. •You have now created a wonderful 8-page book (including both front & back covers) with only 1 piece of paper, 1 simple cut and no tape or staples!
    3. Using the vocabulary list provided/on the board, have students choose one simple sentence using 1-3 Kiswahili words per page spread. With the front cover being a title, and the back page being a ‘credit’ page, each student would only use 3 sentences (3-double page spreads inside).
    4. Page through the “jambo means hello” book again, this time focusing on the illustrations and style the artist used. Point out specifically the low amount of details (on faces, etc.) and the muted earth tone colors used. Make note of how the objects/people get smaller and higher up on the page the farther they are away, and how there are suggested lines to establish varying planes of space in the backgrounds, etc.
    5. Direct students to plan these 3 special illustrative pages out and lightly sketch their illustrations with Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils. Demonstrate basic usage of Crayola Watercolor Colored Pencils, by outlining a basic shape with one color and use another color for a few texture lines inside that shape. Then using a thin, round brush, use a very small amount of water and paint in part of that area (maybe the bottom) to look like a shadow. Also demonstrate how to use a wide, flat brush and very little water to spread out parts of the marks distinguishing the planes or other suggested areas of the background.
    6. With only small amounts of water being used, the drying time should be very minimal, so the students can be writing their text around the illustration with markers. You may want to have students color-code each language. Have students share and/or display their books!
  • Standards

    LA: Use information gained from illustrations and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning word and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    MATH: Develop understanding of fractions as numbers.

    SS: Explore the ways groups, societies and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Interpret, use, and distinguish various representations of the earth, such as maps, globes, and photographs.

    SS: Explore ways that language and art may facilitate global understanding or lead to misunderstanding.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

    VA: Students demonstrate an understanding that creative thinking and artmaking skills transfer to many aspects of life.

  • Adaptations

    Investigate a school group online and share mailing information, initiate a swap of word books.

    Use this project as an introduction to exploring various cultures, and create these visual vocabulary volumes for each.

    Encourage students to create these simple and portable books in other areas of their studies. Experiment with different sizes of papers to create different sizes of books!

    Use these small sections of books as signatures, and research basic ways to sew them together to create larger books (as books were originally bound thousands of years ago!).

    Pair with another class in your school who is studying another language and trade books to learn the other.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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