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Homes, all over the world, are made of available materials. Throughout Africa, small villager's use mud, sticks and tree branches to build their shelters. For instance, when water is available, a circular trench is be dug. Water is added to the half of the loose soil in the trench and the villager's stomp around in it to make mud. Then they 'plant' wooden poles into the drying mud and weave vines and grasses between the poles.

Next, branches are tied together at one end and fanned out on the other to make a cone. More branches are lashed to the open end of the cone to hold the shape. Then with more vines, the roof is tied onto the circular wall of the house. After that, they cover the inside and outside with more mud made from the left-over dirt that was first dug out of the trough. From beginning to end, the job is done by the entire tribe and even the kids help. The whole day is a celebration of singing and and taking turns dancing in the mud.

Finally, they might paint the outside to distinguish one family from another. Colorful designs are often indicative of the tribe; such as the Ndebele tribe.

  Supplies: Sources: Cost:
File folder/card stock 4x 8 RAFT Free
Matt board disk, 2.5" diameter RAFT/COF Free
Scissors COF/borrow Free
Raffia Catalogue $3.00
Paint COF storeroom Free
Paint brushes Catalogue, Discount Your choice
Paint containers RAFT $0.25
Sharpie markers COF/Costco Free
White or wood glue Hardware store $0.35
Glue containers RAFT $0.25
Baggies to hold raffia Dollar store $2.00/reuse
Stapler(s) RAFT/COF $1.00/free
  Total (approx.)   $3.85
1) Draw a line lengthwise, 1 from the edge.
2) Student must cut from the edge to the line at about 1/2 intervals and bend at the line.
3) Wood glue is applied with fingers to the tabs that were just cut.
4) The tabs are stuck onto the matt board disk, the 4x8 is wrapped around the disk overlapping and sticking subsequent tabs.
5) Another tube (that has been cut in half) is cut open, the edge bent about and glued onto side of opening. This is the doorway. It keeps people from looking inside.
6) Paint main house.
7) Cut out paper disk, cut a diameter, overlap & make a shallow cone and staple once or twice.
8) Tie Raffia into a little bundle, spread the fibers, cover roof with wood glue and place Raffia bundle on to and arrange neatly.
9) Finally, se a piece of masking tape from inside to hold on the roof. This allows the student to look inside, later.
10)  Optionally, the homes can be glued to cardboard and sand clay or salt dough landscapes can be added and painted. Continue to add plants, little people and animals, too! Each addition is an opportunity to learn about that new aspect of the subject matter.
Fifth graders African huts
Alex Kent 2007