Anansi the Spider: a tale from the Ashanti people of Ghana, a country in West Africa, is a folktale written down and illustrated by Gerald McDermott. In this African myth, Anansi, who is a mischievous folk hero and trickster, must determine which of his sons is worthy enough to become the keeper of a precious gift. It is a story, passed down from generation to generation in the oral tradition, and like most myths it has changed over time. McDermott’s adaptation is one of beauty, and his illustrations use traditional patterns of the Ashanti people.
Below are some activities and worksheets to go along with this beautiful picture book to help you create an Anansi the Spider lesson plan.
- Culture (n) – The ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society.
- Danger (n) – The possibility of suffering harm or injury
- Falcon (n) – A bird of prey with long pointed wings and a notched beak, typically catching prey by diving on it from above.
- Folklore (n) – The traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed down through oral storytelling.
- Ghana (n) – A country of West Africa, with its southern coastline bordering on the Atlantic Ocean; population 27,400,000 (estimated 2015); languages, English (official), West African languages; capital, Accra. (formerly, the Gold Coast (1957))
- Legend (n) – A traditional story usually believed as historically accurate but not proven.
- Mysterious (adj) – Difficult or impossible to identify or understand.
- Mythology (n) – A collection of stories belonging to a specific culture or religion created to explain how the world works
- Rainforest (n) – A dense forest rich in biodiversity found in tropical areas with consistently heavy rainfall.
- Tradition (n) – established customs or beliefs passed down from generation to generation.
- Origin Myth (n) – a story that tells of how something began or was created
- What unique skill did each of Anansi’s sons possess?
- What is the significance of Road Builder’s talent?
- Who is Nyame?
- What question does this story answer? How is Anansi the Spider an Origin Myth?
- Why his Anansi unable to choose between his sons?
Activity 1 – Info Hunt
Send your children on an Info Hunt of the Republic of Ghana by exploring the website below in search of things that fit each clue. In a classroom, students can work in pairs/groups.
G _______________________ Clue: This, the oldest of the country’s groups, migrated to Ghana from around AD1000. (Guan)
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H _______________________ Clue: This festival of the Exodus, celebrated by the Ewe people, marks their escape for a tyrannical ruler. (Hogbetsotso)
A _______________________ Clue: This city along the coast is one of the bustling modernized cities in the country. (Accra)
N _______________________ Clue: Cashew and Shea are types of these, which are exported from Ghana. (Nuts)
A _______________________ Clue: The construction of this dam led to creation of Lake Volta, one of the world’s largest man-made lakes. (Akosombo)
Activity 2- Cooking
Waakye (pronounced waa-chay)
Waakye, a creative dish of beans and rice, is very popular for breakfast in the city of Acca. It originates in Northern Ghana where beans and rice are staples. Similar dishes are found in many cultures of the African diaspora, or communities resulting from the cultural infusion created by the transatlantic slave trade.
Waakye is usually served with a thick tomato-based stew made with goat or cow meat, talia (spaghetti), fried plantains, boiled eggs, avocado and a salad. It is a filling meal!
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Batik Making (Tie-Dying)
The illustrations in Anansi the Spider mimic the rich Batik patterns favorite amongst the textile industry in Ghana. Watch this video about the traditional art of Fabric Dyeing and then, make your own.
Create your own Batik fabric
- Cotton or Muslin fabric (any size) or white 100% Cotton T-shirts
- Fabric Scissors (you can use regular scissors. However, fabric scissors will create cleaner cuts)
- Plastic Table Cloths and Drop Cloths
- Fabric Dyes (Rit or Dune)
- Containers with Lids for the Dyes (empty gallon ice cream containers work well)
- Paint stirrers to mix dyes
- Bees Wax (available in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs) OR Elmer’s Glue if you are doing this with younger children.
- Double boiler to melt wax (you can sit a mason jar in a pot of water)
- Tjanting Needles (if using wax). If using glue, you can use a paintbrush or craft sticks.
- Paintbrushes for Dye
- Latex-Free Rubber Gloves (optional)
- Large Paintbrush for Hot Wax
- Large Pot and water (for boiling away the wax)
- Drying rack, clothesline, or newspaper and iron
Set up your stations:
- Wax melting station (if using): melt beeswax over a double boiler and keep on low, so it does not cool too fast.
- Drawing station: should be a safe distance from the melting station and should have a flat surface on which you can work.
- Dyeing station: large, protected area to mix dyes (use the instructions on your dye box) and use for painting or dipping fabric
- wax removal stations: a Large bucket of boiling water in which you can submerge your fabric to melt and remove the wax.
- drying station: a protected area used to hang your wet material so that it dries
Make your fabric:
- Draw your design on your fabric or tee with the pencil. Or, if you prefer a more abstract design, fold your fabric into geometric shapes (rectangle, square, triangles).
- Paint areas of your design and or shape with wax using the Tjanting Needles, carefully. You can do several coats of the wax. Allow the wax to harden a bit.
- With the paintbrushes or by dipping the fabric into the dye, add your colors. The wax will prevent the color from coloring those areas. Apply as many colors as you wish and paint as many coats as you would like. You can allow the layers to dry between applications too.
- Remove Wax
- If you are using wax, boil your fabric to remove the wax and to set the dye.
- OR spread fabric between two pieces of newspaper and iron until the paper has absorbed the wax. You will have to iron this multiple times.
- If you are using Glue, peel the dried glue off of the fabric. Boil fabric to set colors.
- Hang Fabric to dry.
Ghanaian Cedi is the only legal tender in Ghana.
Money Conversion Worksheets
Let’s convert the Ghanaian Cedi (GHS) to the US Dollar (USD). Cedi is the Akan word for “cowry shell” which was once used as formal currency.
1 GHS = 0.221155 USD
1 USD = 4.52171 GHS
- If Cocoa beans are $10 USD | then Cocoa beans are _______ GH¢ (45.21)
- If 1 lb of Tuna is $6 USD | then 5 lbs of Tuna is _______ GH¢ (135.65)
- If 2 Yams are $3 USD | then 8 Yams are _______ GH¢ (54.26)
- If 4 Plantains are $.75 USD | then 8 Plantains are _______ GH¢ (6.78)
- If Sugar is $5.49 per lb. USD | then 6 lbs of Sugar is _______GH¢ (148.95)
- If Shea Nuts are $17.53 per lb. USD | then 1 lb of Shea Nuts are _______ GH¢ (79.27)
- If Smoked Barracuda is $5.75 per fish USD | then 12 Smoked Barracudas are _______ GH¢ (312.00)
- If Copra (dried coconut kernals) is $4.25 per lb. USD | then 10 lbs. of Copra is _______ GH¢ (192.17)
- If Rice is $0.25 per lb. USD | then 100 lbs of Rice is _______ GH¢ (113.04)
- If Tilapia is $1.25 per lb USD |then 50lbs of Tilapia is _______GH¢ (284.87)