Africa Unit Study

Africa Unit Study -Mt. Kilimanjaro

I honestly do not know who has enjoyed this unit more, Caleb or myself? There was a lot of reading but plenty of hands-on projects to go along with it. Please take a look at this post  if you are interested in our entire Africa Unit schedule. Here is what we did with volcanoes.

Mt. Kilimanjaro – Tanzania

  • Apologia Physical Science p 131-152 – The module offers a very in-depth look into the Earth’s lithosphere. I introduced note taking to Caleb and still assisted him by writing the bold definitions on our whiteboard. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that he would write his own facts that he found interesting or thought he would need to remember.   I used the study guide at the end of the module as his test.
  • Rocks and Minerals by Neil Morris p 6-8 (Rock Cycle) – We drew our own rock cycle on paper and then had Caleb “teach” it back to me. He seemed to understand it better by doing it this way verses just having him look at the figure in the book.
  • Volcanoes by Luke Thompson – This book was AWESOME! It offered a great review on everything we did in the Physical Science textbook and expanded more on just volcanoes. Caleb thought the most interesting part was the different classifications of volcano eruptions. I enjoyed the pictures that the book offered.
  • How to draw a Volcano – Caleb and I both had fun with this. It is always interesting to see our different interpretations of the instructions that were on the website.


  • Caleb built a play-do model of Earth’s layers to “test” his knowledge
  • Paint Volcano – I can not find the site where I got this idea, so I will update if I come across it again. It is very simple to do. First, paint a black triangle. Next, add globs of red, yellow, and orange paint to the top of triangle (it would be helpful if they were slightly runny). Use a straw to blow the paint around. It should move the paint and give it a realistic “spray” look. Unfortunately, the paint we used must have been old because it did not spread well at all. We ended up painting the explosion ourselves. 


  • Build a Volcano (Experiment Box) – This took several days to do because it takes about 24 hours for plaster to set fully and then another 24 hours for paint to dry. Instructions are extremely easy to follow and Caleb was able to do it all himself.


When he was painting,  I read the book I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake 1906. Caleb stopped painting several times just to listen to the story. This is the first of those series we have read but Caleb asked to read more if they fit into other units.


When Eruption day finally came we gathered the whole family including Dad. I was really hoping for some oomph and sparks of light to happen. Needless to say, I was slightly disappointed. We had to put in way more baking soda and vinegar than what the instructions called for. It only fizzed and boiled over slightly. Guess they can’t all be awe-inspiring experiments 😉 Overall, Caleb enjoyed building and painting it. The little guys thought it was fun to see the bubbles come out.

  • National Geographic Volcano DVD – This was a GREAT DVD. It is 60 minutes but the images alone are well worth it in our opinion. Caleb usually does something else while watching DVD’s like building with Legos or his contraption set but he was captivated from beginning to end. With all DVD’s, Caleb has to write down 6 facts (because he is in 6th grade) and he had 13 for this one. Wes was so funny because every time it showed an eruptions he would yell, “THERE SHE BLOWS!”
  • Caleb wrapped up this unit by writing a 6 paragraph essay. This offered us practice on outlining a paper and pulling his notes together.

Overall, we LOVED this unit and probably could have spent even more time on it. We are, however, looking forward to moving on to the Sossusvlei Sand Dunes in Namibia.

Happy Learning!!



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