Nanta's Lion Curriculum Guide



Nanta's Lion is appropriate for Kindergarten through fourth grade. As an art form the book is relevant for students of any age.

This curriculum guide assists teachers in using Nanta's Lion in the classroom. It offers a wide variety of activities and is easily adapted to various grade levels.

Nanta's Lion Curricular Connections:






safety issue







land forms




animal rights issue






life cycles



predator/prey relationships




African country



expository on Africa


expository on lions


other animals in Africa


fiction on African animals




size of lion



life span of lion

style of book

animal sounds

speed at which lions run


setting sounds

distance Nanta traveled


village sounds

size of Africa





animal movements

tri-fold brochure

speed of the animals


character's movement

prompts for journal writing poetry (kinds)


web other animals


Tempt the students by carrying the book, Nanta's Lion, around and displaying it on the chalk rail.

Talk about the words search and find prior to reading the book.

Ask the students the following questions:

  • Have they been to the zoo?
  • Have they been to the circus?
  • What kinds of animals have they seen when visiting the zoo and/or circus?
  • What do they know about lions?
  • Can they predict what the book is about by looking at the front and back covers?
  • Where do they think the story takes place? (the setting)
  • How can the picture on the front cover help them learn about the setting?


  1. Venn diagram for comparing and contrasting zoo and circus.... or

  2. T-chart for comparing and contrasting zoo and circus.

  3. Know - What - Learn - Share (KWLS) chart
    • What do I know about lions, East Africa, the zoo, the circus?
    • What do I want to know? (children think of, design, and write questions)
    • What I have learned is recorded.
    • What students have learned is shared with others in and out of the classroom.

  4. Prediction Chart
    • Picture walk through the book without reading the story.
    • The teacher records students' predictions on chart paper. Discuss and write on chart paper what the children tell you about the story, using only the pictures as clues.

  5. Develop an ABC book based on African animals and incorporating alliteration. Possible examples are listed on the next page.
ABC BOOKS (examples)

1) Name an African animal and write a sentence describing a particular body part:

A is for anteater. This animal has a long nose and mouth which it uses to hunt and eat ants and termites.

E is for elephant. This animal uses its long nose to pick up food and water and bring them to its mouth.

2) Name an African animal and the habitat or region in which it may dwell.

B is for baboon. Baboons dwell in lush vegetation.

3) Name an African animal and describe it with size and color words (adjectives).

L is for lion. It is a huge cat weighing up to 1,300 pounds. Its color ranges from dirty tan to golden blonde.

4) Examples of plural nouns and adjectives:

      • brilliant butterflies
      • gentle giraffes
      • hairy hyenas
      • lazy lions
      • playful parrots
      • slow sloths
During Reading

Read the story, Nanta's Lion slowly and emphasize the following points:

p.1 & 2

  • Describe what Nanta might be thinking by looking at her face.
  • Explain why you think the men in Nanta's village had to hunt the lion.
  • Why was the cow important to the village and why did it need protection?

p. 3 & 4

  • What does curious mean?
  • Describe the expression you see on Nanta's face.

P. 5 & 6

  • What do you think Nanta is going to do?
  • Show or draw a gourd for the children.

p. 7 & 8

  • Why do you think Nanta slipped away from the village?
  • Explain why Nanta is looking over her shoulder?
  • Suppose Nanta asked her father to tag along. What do you think he might have replied?

p. 9 & 10

  • How do you know that Nanta has been to the grove of thorn trees?   
  • There is an example of a food chain on this page. Can you find it? Explain.

p. 11 & 12

  • What have you seen as you play outside that reminds you of the termite mound?
  • What lives in the mound?
  • What do termites eat?
  • How can the mountain have snow on it, yet Nanta travels without a coat?
  • Do you think there is water nearby? Why?

p. 13 & 14

  • Explain what creeping means. Why do you think she moved this way?

p. 15 & 16

  • How are the homes in Nanta's friend's village different and/or similar to Nanta's hut?

p. 17 & 18

  • What clue shows the passage of time?
  • Explain why Nanta is disappointed.

p. 19 & 20

  • Using the behavior described about the two parrots, tell me what you think startled means.

p. 21 & 22

  • Do you really think that Nanta could have sat down to rest and drink her milk without the lion noticing her? Explain.

The questions can be used with the whole class. Each student might discuss a question with a partner and then share their answers with the whole group. The teacher may also ask the children to respond to a question in writing and find evidence in the story that supports their answer.

After Reading

Making a lion bookmark (geometry, following directions, facts about the story) sample

Each student is given a rectangular piece of card stock to make a bookmark (3 X 5 or 3.5 X 7).

They begin by punching a hole for a tassel in the top center.

The teacher should draw the following geometric elements on the board as the students draw on their bookmark. (pattern in back of curriculum guide)

  • Draw a rectangle in the top half of the card.
  • Draw a second rectangle hanging from the center top edge of the first rectangle to create a nose.
  • Draw an inverted triangle connected to the bottom of the suspended rectangle.
  • From the apex of the triangle draw a straight line about one-half inch down.
  • From the end of the line connect to each corner of the original rectangle with a straight line.
  • At the top corners of the large rectangle draw two 3/4 circles for ears (careful not to draw over the corners).
  • Around the perimeter of the rectangle draw squiggly, wavy, or circular lines to represent the lion's mane.
  • Draw eyes on the long sides of the nose rectangle not quite half-way down.
  • Draw whiskers.

Give each child a piece of yarn. Fold the yarn in half. Take the folded end and push it through the hole in the top of the bookmark.

As you pull the looped end up push both cut ends through the loop. Pull taut gently.

Have the students write the title of the book on the front.

Turn the bookmark over and have students write three facts about lions or about Nanta.

T-chart (locating and organizing information)

Have the students visit the media center and select a nonfiction book about Africa. Looking at both Nanta's Lion and the library book, the students should list plant life, animal life, and land forms (such as plains, mountains, grasses, etc.)

Acrostic ( poetry, placement words)

Students select an African animal that has been mentioned in the story and write the name of the animal vertically. Then they write a word, phrase or sentence based on the story beside each letter.


Lions live in Africa on the plains.
In the village the men gather near the fire to make plans to hunt the lion.
Over the hill Nanta searches for the lion.
Nanta rests gently against the lion's back and drinks milk from a gourd.


Parrots, bright and colorful, screeching in the distance
Always in Africa
Resting in the shade
Raising their wings they fly
Over the animals heads
Two of them can make a lot of noise
Squawking to warn other animals that danger is nearby

This is a good place to review placement words (prepositional phrases).
Look for the prepositional phrases in the story. Record the students responses.

in Africa
around the village
through the grass
in the grass
on a giraffe's back
inside the hut
in the trees
to the neighboring village
in the water hole

Story wall (comprehension) sample

The students retell the story by creating a story wall on a large piece of paper.

The teacher divides the students into groups of four or five.

The teacher gives each group a piece of bulletin board paper or butcher paper.

Each group selects a general heading such as Nanta's home, the animals Nanta found along the way, or habitats. Then each child in a group draws and cuts out a specific story item appropriate to the heading. For example, if Nanta's home is the heading, one student might draw and cut out the hut and another the fire. Using a list of the sequence of events, they assemble the story board by attaching their story items to the background paper. (Example in back of curriculum guide)

An additional activity:

Each child adds one item from their own imagination and tells the class about it.

Social Studies Connections

Map Skills (geography / social studies)

Pass out a world map. The teacher should also pull down the class world map or have a world map to use on the overhead projector.

The teacher asks the students to find the continent, country and state where they live on the world map.

Ask the students if they know the continents. Review the names of each continent. (maps included in back of curriculum guide)

Teaching Hint:

The quadruplets start with A:

Africa, Antarctica, Asia, and Australia

The only child starts with E:


The twins start with N & S:

North America & South America

Find the continents on the world map on the overhead projector. Place a marker (a lima bean or math chip) on each one as the students learn them.

The teacher will point out East Africa after reviewing the cardinal directions. (N = north, E = east, S = south, and W = west). Show the children the compass rose on a big pull down map or in the index of a social studies book.

East Africa will be on what ocean? The teacher should review the four major bodies of water. Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean. Like North and South America, Africa is also surrounded on many sides by water.

Let's find where Nanta lives. How is her home different than yours? What about the weather where she lives? Look in the USA Today newspaper and see if you can find the weather for Africa at the proximity of Nanta's home. Compare it to your own.

Nanta belongs to the Masai tribe. Let's look it up in a reference book or on the internet. Look at the clothing and jewelry that Nanta and her people wear. Why do you think Nanta is in costume? Would Nanta fit in easily in the United States? Why not?

National Geographic is a good source to use to find African maps and information about the Masai tribe.

Math Connections

1. Math Patterning

Make necklaces and bracelets in math class. This is a good patterning exercise. The teacher can provide keys, buttons, beads, grommets, wooden or plastic thread spools, and other small items that are part of "junk jar" collections.


The teacher can provide noodles and macaroni. Have the students color them by adding several drops of food coloring and alcohol to a ziplock baggie. Dry them on newsprint.

Designing the necklace or bracelet:

Have the students design their pattern before they thread the objects on fishing line or yarn. For example the pattern may be aabc-aabc-aabc (a a b c = red noodle, red noodle, round button with two holes, silver key, repeat). The student decides what objects he or she will use to represent each letter in the pattern, assembles them in order and then threads the objects on their fishing line or yarn.

2. Counting and Number Sense

Have the children list or draw the kinds of animals they see in the book.

How many of each?

How many total?

How many have tails?

How many have feathers?

How many have two feet each?

The students can write story problems using the animals that are in the story.

Example (1)

I see two goats and one lion. How many animals are there in all? What are the total number legs? How many goat legs are there? How many lion legs are there? Students can write and draw to solve the problem.

Example (2)

Nanta sees two gazelles and one water buffalo hiding. How many four-legged animals are there? How many legs in all? How many horns in all?

There are five zebras in a field and five birds on their backs. How many animals are there in total? One zebra hears a noise and runs away and the birds fly away. How many animals are left?

Teaching Hint:

Stamps and ink pads are clever ways to have the children share their picture representations. Rubber stamps or stickers with African animals on them are available. This will help younger students see the animals represented in a concrete way.

3. Counting Book

The students can create a counting book using the number symbol (2), the number word (two), or the ordinal number (second). These can be used individually or in conjunction with African animals or items from the Nanta's Lion story.




Suggestions for using ordinal numbers:

The lion is the first animal you will see in the zoo behind the bars of his cage.

The second mountain goat is standing on the rocks.

The third monkey is hanging upside down in the tree.

4. Bare Feet Math

Nanta travels barefooted on her journey. When do you go barefooted? When is it not safe to go barefooted? Some children go to school barefooted. Where do you think these children live?

Have each child trace one foot (without shoe and sock on) onto construction paper or graph paper.

Determine and compare the length of each foot to other feet in the class. This reinforces concepts of greater than and less than. Don't forget to include the teacher. Line the traced feet up on the floor or hang them on a clothesline with clothespins or attach them on yarn with paper clips or glue them down on bulletin board paper. One idea is to have three to five students at a time go over and arrange their feet from largest to smallest or smallest to largest and observe them as they make their decision.

Comparisons can be recorded on classroom graphs by showing the traced foot (feet) of each child.

Estimate the length of the foot (toe to heel) in non standard units.

Estimate the length (toe to heel) of the foot in standard units. Measure the foot using standard measurement and/or metric measurement (inches with a ruler - centimeters with a metric stick).

After Reading

Writing Activities

Nanta's Name Acrostic Activity (poetry style)

Model NANTA with the students on chart paper. (use complete sentences)

N anta wanted to look for the lion.
A fter she started her journey she saw many animals.
N o lion was found so she stopped in a neighboring village.
T he little girl was disappointed at not seeing the lion.
A t the end of the story she didn't notice the lion even though she was sitting on it's tail.

or use the name of one of your students:

A my is amazing when it comes to school projects.
M ost of them are marvelous,
Y et others would make you yelp.

Class Pop-Up Cards printable page

The students can draw an African animal or a picture of themselves on a small piece of paper (approx. 3" square).

Fold two separate 81/2 X 11 sheets of paper in half. Put one paper aside. On the folded edge of the other paper, mark two dots, each one 3 3/4 inches from the ends. Starting at each dot, cut in towards the middle one inch. Fold the cut strip forward and then back to its original position.

1. Open the card slightly and push forward the pop-up center piece as shown.

2. Each student should glue the picture they have drawn to the pop-up part of the page then write descriptive words about the animal or themselves along the sides.

3. Take the paper which was set aside and glue it on to the back of the pop-up page (run the glue stick around the outside edge of the pop-up page). This now becomes the cover and strengthens the card. Decorate.

After Reading

Writing Activities (continued)

Character Description

Start with a word web or word mat about Nanta. What words would you use to describe Nanta? Write a brief description about Nanta as if you were her mother, her father, a sibling, or a neighbor from the village.

Point of View

Rewrite the story Nanta's Lion from another point of view. You may choose to write the story as if you are:

Nanta's mother

Nanta's father

the giraffe

the monkeys

the gazelles

the lion

Using Your Senses

To prepare for writing responses, have the children close their eyes and visualize a time that they walked barefooted. Have them think about a time they have walked barefooted in their neighborhood, in their backyard, on the beach, etc. and remember what they saw, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted. As the lights are turned off and their eyes are closed ask them to relive the memory in their mind. Ask some of the following questions quietly to the students.

What do you see?

What do you feel under your bare feet? Is there texture? Is there temperature?

Do you recall if it is warm weather or cool weather?

Do you recall any special smells in the air?

What about the things you might have touched with your hands? Is there a texture to those?

Do you hear any specific sounds as you remember this special place?

Finally, did you taste anything ?

What are the tastes you remember?

Take Nanta's trip as she walks looking for the lion. Share each one of the senses that she used as she journeyed that day.

After the children recreate their own memory or Nanta's memory have them write or draw their special memory.

There are many types of books that children may choose to use to put their writing(s) in. There are tiny books, tall books, shape books (these could be in the shape of Nanta's hut), pop-ups, accordion books, etc. The more ways children know how to "publish" their writing, the more they seem to write.

Science Connections

Animals and their Habitats (research) These exercises should be simplified for the younger children.

Children can begin by researching the African animals in the story. Each child then chooses the animal that he or she is interested in researching. Resources are picture books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, non-fiction books on Africa and the specific animal, and electronic encyclopedias.

The information from each student can be recorded in a four page folder and alphabetized for class reference.

  • Give each child a 12x18 inch piece of colored construction paper.
  • Have the child fold it in half horizontally so it opens like a book with the crease on the left.
  • Write the name of the animal in large letters (acrostic style) down the left-hand side of the first page.
  • While doing the research, write descriptive words and phrases about the animal near each letter.

Use the second page for beginning note taking strategies. The child can web the areas of interest that he or she may want to look up and find out about. For example: Where might I see this animal? What does it eat? Is it a predator? Is it prey? Is it endangered? How fast might it travel? How does it move? How does it camouflage itself for protection?

On pages three and four the child can directly report his or her research findings. The folded paper acts as a "holder" for any pages off the Internet or pictures copied from magazines or books.


(see pattern at end of curriculum guide)

Make a square from an 8 1/2 X 11 piece of paper. Holding the paper in portrait view, take the bottom right-hand corner and bring it across to the left hand edge of the paper, align the two edges and make a crease. The unfolded part of the paper must be cut off.

Holding the folded square piece of paper, take the two corners at either end of the fold and bring them together and crease. Open the paper up.

The student will then cut to the center of the paper along one of the diagonal folds. He or she will mark one of the bottom flaps with a small "x"; that means do not draw or write here. This flap will slide under the other flap and become the base of the triorama.

The student will then draw a land form for a specific region in Africa on the triorama and identify the country and/or countries where this exists. Writing about the drawing is as important as the drawing. Labeling is an excellent way for a "reluctant reader" to share knowledge and to feel that he or she has contributed in their own way.

When the triorama is complete, glue or staple the flap marked with the "x" under the other flap.

This project also works well in the Diorama format.

Examples of other African support materials:

Bimwili and the Zimwi by Aardema

(African land forms such as jungles, deserts, prairies, or mountain regions)

Bringing the Rains to the Kapiti Plains by Aardema

(African Savannah)

Anansi and the Spider by McDermott

(map of Africa, highlights Ghana, origins of the Anansi stories by the Ashanti people)

Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions by Musgrove

(ABC book capturing twenty-six different African cultures within a single continent)

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughter by Steptoe

(African Cinderella shares the flora and the fauna as well as the architecture of the ancient ruins in the South African country of Zimbabwe)

Galimoto by Williams

(narrative text depicting a Malawi boy journeying through an African village to gather wire scraps to make a toy car)

In a Country Far Away by Gray

(a comparison of two boys' lives. One is from America and the other from a traditional African village)

Village of Round and Square Houses by Grifalconi

(uses geometry to discuss what shapes appear in African homes)

Special note:

Your comments on the use of these materials will be welcomed. Please write Suse MacDonald, Box 25, So. Londonderry, VT 05155 or e-mail her at with any thoughts, photographs or results.

This activity sheet is copyrighted by ladene conroy but may be photocopied for your colleagues and sold only for the cost of printing.

Triorama Pattern: printable page

1) Fold and cut

2) Fold again

3) Cut solid line

4) Overlap A over B and glue or staple

5) Finished Triorama

Bookmark Pattern: printable page

Story Wall Sample: printable page


All content copyright © 2013 Suse MacDonald. All rights reserved except where noted.