Exploring countries and cultures has been one of my favorite ways to learn with my kids about the world we live in. While we take trips as often as we can to experience first-hand the wonders of the world, there are other places that are out of reach for an educational adventure—Africa, for example.This massive continent has a profound diversity of culture and depth of history that come to life when we combine our history and geography curriculum with online video resources.
To get you started, check out this quick overview of Africa from Lonely Planet. Then dig in to the specific areas outlined below.
Explore African Wildlife
1. Africa by BBC Earth
TV-PG, 6 Episodes, 48 min (available on Netflix)
This colorful documentary featuring animals from Africa's rich variety of species. The cinematography gives viewers an up close and personal look at unique animals you may not have even known existed.
2. Africa's Super Seven by National Geographic
NR, 45 min (available on YouTube)
Taking a deeper look into seven of Africa's most prominent animals, this documentary highlights their habitats, enemies, and struggle to survive. With beautiful landscapes and thrilling animal encounters, viewers will get a taste of animal life up close.
3. The Great Rift: Africa's Wild Heart by BBC/Animal Planet
TV-PG, 3 episodes, 58 min (no longer available on Netflix)
Exploring the region around Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, this beautifully made series examines the abundance of exotic wildlife in Africa. At the end of each episode, viewers are given a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the challenges of making a documentary in this unique location.
4. The Wildebeest Migration
TV-PG, 50 min (no longer available on Netflix)
This documentary captures a unique glimpse of the migration of African wildebeests across the Serengeti. It is fascinating to watch how these animals interact with all of the other iconic African animals. With beautiful videography and interesting narration, your family will love learning about Africa with this documentary.
Explore African History
5. Africa: Zulu Empire by Extra History
NR, 5 episodes, 10 min (available on YouTube)
These short, animated histories are a great way to gain insight into the Zulu Empire. Located on the eastern side of South Africa, the Zulus bravely fought against the British in the late 1800s.
NR, 1964, 2 hr 18 min (no longer available on Netflix)
If the Zulu warriors fascinate you, check out this classic movie featuring the British soldiers and their attempt to defend their South African outpost from the Zulu attack.
Explore African Geography
7. Africa by Geography Now
NR, 22 episodes, 10 min (available on YouTube)
These short videos offer a great introduction to the unique characteristics of countries in Africa. Each episode includes a little about the flag, how the country came to be, and what makes each unique.
8. Africa's Geographic Challenges by STRATFORvideo
NR, 7 episodes, 2 min (available on YouTube)
Integrating history and geography, these short clips of African geography engage viewers with eye-catching maps and historical images. In just a short time, students gain greater insight into how these countries developed their borders and the geographic features that make up each country.
9. Travel to Africa by National Geographic
These destination videos give a glimpse into modern life around the continent of Africa. At just five minutes a piece, you can have a quick overview in a snap.
Explore African Culture
10. Queen of Katwe by Disney
TV-PG, 2 hr 4 min (no longer available on Netflix)
In Queen of Katwe, viewers experience an incredible journey of a young poverty-stricken girl growing up in Uganda. When she meets an amazing mentor who teaches her chess, she not only learns a great game, but trains her brain to see life from a different perspective. (Based on a true story.)
11. Building Pharaoh's Chariot by NOVA
TV-G, 52 min (no longer available on Netflix)
Travel back in time with archaeologists, engineers, woodworkers, and horse trainers as they team up to recreate a chariot similar to the one the great Pharaohs of Egypt might have used.
12. The Pyramid Code
TV-PG, 5 episodes, 44 min (available on Netflix)
A team of experts take a look at the marvels of engineering in ancient Egypt. From pyramids to symbols, this ancient civilization was light years ahead of its time.
While you may never make it to Africa, exploring this magnificent continent through streaming resources and a literature based curriculum is a great place to start in inspiring awe and wonder of our amazing planet.