Student Activities


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Student activities that cross content areas (including French, mathematics, science, social studies, etc.) 

These activities can be used with students at many levels, especially upper elementary through secondary, and they can be adapted or extended for other levels. They are all referenced from the About Burkina Faso page of this website. Teachers and students can also get ideas for teaching activities (and ideas for connecting with Peace Corps volunteers) from Peace Corps' Worldwise Schools website.

List of activities:

  1. How big is Burkina Faso? How big is Africa?
  2. Finding and using maps of Burkina Faso
  3. About Burkina Faso
  4. Longitude, Latitude and Time Zones
  5. How much do you know about the Muslim religion (Islam)?
  6. How hot is 30 degrees Celsius (and other weather questions)?
  7. Burkina Faso websites in French


Geogrphy.wmf (5120 bytes) 1. Find out more

For students:

How big is Burkina Faso? How big is Africa? 

Burkina Faso is a country, like the United States, Canada, or China. But in Europe, Africa, and some other parts of the world, countries are much smaller than in the U.S. or Canada, and the countries may seem more like states or provinces. 

In terms of length and width, how does Burkina Faso compare to the United States? To your state, province or country? Can you estimate the area of Burkina Faso and the area of your state, province or country and compare them? How many people live in your state, province or country compared to the 12 million people who live in Burkina Faso?

When you think about Africa, it's easy to imagine that it is similar in size to one of the other continents, like North or South America. But take a closer look. How far is it from the far north of Africa to the southern tip? How does that compare with the United States or Canada, or the continent of North America? Which is the largest continent in the world? Which is the smallest? Can you estimate the areas of all the continents and rank them? Can you make a graph to show your results? What type of graph might you choose to communicate this information in a meaningful way?

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Geogrphy.wmf (5120 bytes) 2. Find out more

For students:

Finding and using maps of Burkina Faso

There are several websites for maps of Burkina Faso. Search for a site, or try one of these:'s maps and information's website
The United Nations' Least Developed Countries website
An excellent detailed map of towns, villages and regions in Burkina Faso (a French site)

Can you identify the capital of Burkina Faso? Can you pronounce it? Did you know that it is mentioned in one of the Harry Potter books (spelled a little differently)? If you want a hint about the name or some help pronouncing it, click here.

Burkina Faso is not far from a place called Timbuktu (sometimes spelled Tombuktu). Can you find Timbuktu on a map? How far is it from Timbuktu to Cathy's town of Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso? Compare that to the distance between your town and a city where you might want to go.

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Geogrphy.wmf (5120 bytes) 3. Find out more

For students:

About Burkina Faso

Try a web search on "Burkina Faso" for more information about Burkina Faso. Many websites have information about population, government, geography, and so on, including and The Burkina Faso Embassy in the United States also has a website with information. The United States government maintains a World Factbook with lots of data on different countries for some good math problems or cool graphs you could make. Stanford University also has a great website with all kinds of Internet resources for specific countries in Africa. With a little effort, you may even be able to find a website with information about a special interest of yours related to Burkina Faso. 


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Geogrphy.wmf (5120 bytes) 4. Find out more

For students:

Longitude, Latitude and Time Zones

How close to the equator is Burkina Faso? How much of Africa lies above (or below) the equator? How does that compare with South America? What line of latitude (in numbers) is the equator? 

In what important time zone does Burkina Faso lie? You can check the time and compare it to yours at a website. Find the small numbers that represent the country's latitude and longitude and think about/explore/discuss what these numbers mean. At about what lines of latitude and longitude does Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso lie? Can you identify an opposite location on the globe (a location the same distance on the other side of the equator as Burkina Faso)? Latitude and longitude rely on a sexigesimal number system, rather than a decimal number system. What does this mean? Do we use a sexigesimal system in any other situation?

Are time zones and longitude related in any way? Use an atlas or encyclopedia (electronic or the old-fashioned kind in books) or a globe, or search the web for information on latitude and longitude. The National Geographic site has maps you can search for time zones, and there is even a distance/latitude/longitude site where you can find the latitude and longitude of Ouagadougou and its distance from your town.  

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Geogrphy.wmf (5120 bytes) 5. Find out more

For students:

How much do you know about the 
Muslim religion (Islam)?

Today it is increasingly important to understand that many people in the world practice different religions. There are often misconceptions (wrong ideas) about what most Muslims believe and practice, so doing your own research and talking to Muslims in your community may give you the best information.

The data are not always clear for Burkina Faso, since many people live in very remote areas, but at least half the people in Burkina Faso (and maybe as high as 70 or 80%) practice Islam. BurkinabŔ Muslims celebrate two major holidays, Ramadan and Tabaski (click the word for the definition page, or see the photos on the Holidays page).

To find out more about Islam, look in your local telephone yellow pages under "Mosques" or "Churches--Islam" and find someone in your community with whom you can talk. Try checking out one of the following websites, or do your own Internet search:

IslamiCity, a comprehensive set of resources on various aspects of Islam, especially their page on understanding Islam.
Al-Islam (according to one friend, this site may present a more modern, rather than classical, view of Islam)

By the way, did you know that many other cultures have a traditional calendar that does not coincide with the widely used Gregorian/Christian calendar? If the year were 2002 in much of the world, it might be different in Islam communities (click for the Hijri date), in China, or in many Asian cultures. For the sake of business, development, and convenience, most countries have adopted the more common Gregorian (western) calendar for everyday use. An interesting research project might be to further explore the different calendars used in different cultures. 


Rammosque tower-basic.JPG (134116 bytes)


Personal note from Cathy: Especially since the tragedy of September 11, 2001, many people are concerned that Muslims as a group may be violent extremists. In my experience, this is not the case. I think it is important to remember that all religions tend to include some number of people whose extreme views might not represent those of the larger group. To make generalizations about an entire religious group based on a small number of extremists does a great disservice to the vast majority of those who practice that religion. Furthermore, in investigating religious practices, consider which practices may be unique to a particular community or national or regional culture, rather than a universal element of the religion itself. My suggestion is to get to know a person, rather than to stereotype a group.

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Geogrphy.wmf (5120 bytes)  6. Find out more

For students:

Burkina Faso Weather:
How hot is 30 degrees Celsius (and other weather questions)?

Want to know what the weather is like today in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso? Check it out at Yahoo's weather site.  The site even links to a nifty satellite weather map. But you might need to convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures. Click here for a short reminder of how to use algebra to make these conversions, including a quick mental shortcut for making a rough estimate. Can you find the approximate normal range of temperatures in Burkina Faso in Celsius and in Fahrenheit? How does that compare to the normal range of temperatures where you live? 

For more general weather information for West Africa, click here. Or to do some research about using, interpreting and making climographs, click here for teaching activities from the Peace Corps Worldwise schools website.

By the way, can you describe the difference between climate and weather?


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Geogrphy.wmf (5120 bytes)  7. Find out more (Trouvez plus!)

For students of French 
(Pour les ÚlÚves et les Útudiants de franšais):

Burkina Faso websites in French


There are some interesting websites where you can find information about Burkina Faso in French, including
a site with information about the Mossi group and Burkina Faso
a website run by the BurkinabŔ government
the website of the Burkina Faso Embassy in Canada
a webring of sites related to Burkina Faso

Do your own Internet search to find other sites "en franšais." Find an interesting topic about the land and people of Burkina Faso, and write a research report in French about your topic.

Don't forget you can use online resources if you get stuck on a French word here and there, either a French/English dictionary or a French dictionary with French definitions.


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