Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is an African folktale from Zimbabwe, a country in Africa. It is the tale of two very different daughters who learn the ills of pride, selfishness, and fierce competitiveness. It is a wonderfully illustrated picture book with familiar characters- a fairy godmother, an evil sister, and even a Prince- but the real gem of this book is its depiction of a land often thought to be devoid of any beauty or character. Additionally, author and illustrator John Steptoe center Black characters who come to life amongst the vibrant backdrop of nature.
Below are some activities to use in your Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters lesson plan, including worksheets and vocabulary words.
Activity 1 – Web Hunt / Info Hunt
Send your children on a web hunt of the Republic of Zimbabwe by exploring the website below in search of things that fit each clue. In a classroom, students can work in pairs/groups.
Z _________________ Clue: The Tonga are an ethnic group in this Valley (Zambezi)
I _________________ Clue: Many people also hold traditional beliefs in ancestors, as well as in receiving this from the spirits. (Inspiration)
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M _________________ Clue: This is a type of wooden xylophone played here. (Marimba)
B _________________ Clue: Harare and this city average around 14°C in July (Bulawayo)
A _________________ Clue: This industry is very important to the economy here (Agricultural)
B _________________ Clue: Zimbabweans prefer to have this between themselves and their immediate neighbors. (Bush)
W _________________ Clue: An SOS Children’s Village was founded here and in Bulawayo (Waterfalls)
E _________________ Clue: This is the official language of Zimbabwe (English)
Print this activity with these worksheets here:
Activity 2 – Cooking
Mielie Meel (or mealie meal) is a staple in Zimbabwe. It is very similar to grits or polenta and is made from coarse ground white corn meal. Use this recipe to make it for breakfast or a classroom snack.
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- Transfix (v) – To cause one to stand/sit without movement due to surprise or shock
- Chamber (n) – A person’s bedroom
- Preparation (n) – To make something ready for any sort of undertaking
- Flora (n) – All the plants that live/grow in a particular area or environment, or at a particular time
- Fauna (n) – All the animals that live in a particular area or environment, or at a particular time
- Millet (n) – A type of grass whose seeds are used for food
- Bountiful (adj) – Giving or providing many things
- Considerate (adj) – Thinking about the feelings, rights of others; showing kindness towards others
- Proclaim (v) – To say or state something
- Silhouette (n) – A dark shape against a light background
- Foretold (v) – To describe something before it happens
- Garment (n) – An item of clothing
- Commotion (n) – A noisy excitement or disturbance
Reinforce these vocabulary words with these word search and crossword puzzle worksheets:
Literary Elements and Terms
- Folktale – a traditional story usually passed down through oral tradition (verbal storytelling)
- Moral – a lesson taught in a story
- Foreshadowing – a hint of something to come, usually in a story
- Conflict – a struggle or strong disagreement between people or with self
- Characterization – what a character in a story says, does, thinks, feels
Reading Comprehension Questions
- Why does Manyara believe that kindness is a weakness?
- “Only a King can choose between two such worthy daughters.”– Mufaro Why does Mufaro make this statement? Why do you think he did not want to decide which daughter went to the King and which one stayed behind?
- Why do you think Manyara doesn’t not like Nyasha?
- Do you think that Nyasha is really nice and kind?
- In what ways could Nayasha and the King have shown Manyara compassion?
- Is competition bad? Why or why not?
- What is the moral of this story?
- Is this story similar to any others that you have heard or read?
- How did the King judge the women who were competing for the role of Queen?
- This story has very little to do with romantic love. What is the difference between the goal of the women in this story and that of the women in Cinderella? Why?
Here are the same reading comprehension questions in a printable worksheet format:
Reading Comprehension Activities
- Choose a character to follow in the story. Write down at least 5 things in each group:
- Complete a 4-column Somebody-Wanted-But-So Chart the story
- Somebody – the main character(s)
- Wanted – what did that character want?
- But – what was stopping them from getting what they wanted?
- So – what did they do to overcome the but?
- Plot this story using the Plot Triangle
- Exposition – background in story )how it begins
- Rising Action – what happens as the tension in the story begins to build?
- Climax – the tipping point, the exploding event
- Falling Action – how the tensions begin to die down after the Climax
- Resolution – how is the problem solved?
Math and Science
Hibiscuses are native to Zimbabwe and are nearly symmetrical in shape. Explore this fun page to teach students about the mathematical Fibonacci Sequence in nature.
You can also explore the Fibonacci Sequence by coloring these Fibonacci spiral coloring pages – it’s especially fun to color each concentric row a different color on the color wheel!
Animals of Zimbabwe Coloring Pages
Zimbabwe is home to a plethora of wildlife. Here are some coloring pages of some of the fauna found in the country.
Create a Country Travel Brochure
This was our inspiration from The Inspired Classroom
- 1 Manila file folder
- Printed lapbook templates like the ones on HomeschoolShare
- Coloring supplies
- Images of various places, attractions, sites in Zimbabwe printed from online sources or drawn yourself. (http://www.our-africa.org/zimbabwe)
Instructions: Open the file folder and fold the sides towards the center so that they both meet in the middle. Use your lapbook templates to organize your information and images. Glue into your folder to make a brochure.