This summer we are heading to Africa! Our little safari of the mind started with my 7-year-old son and I gathering everything from around the house that had anything remotely to do with Africa.

Our tour through this large continent with its varied people, countries and topographical interests started with a map. There are tons of online interactive resources – a few being National Geographic and PBS – that we enjoyed experiencing together. The interactive maps were educational and we will challenge ourselves to learn five facts about 10 African countries this summer and be able to locate them on the map.

Enhancing our tour through Africa, we placed on the “summer shelf” of our bookcase all of the titles that we collected. One favorite is Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott. summarizes, “Anansi the Spider is one of the great folk heroes of the world. He is a rogue, a mischief maker and a wise, lovable creature who triumphs over larger foes.” Our collection includes Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema, Treasure Hunters: Danger Down the Nile by James Patterson, Meet Me at the Moon by Gianna Marino, and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Bryan Mealer.

When you look through your collection of DVDs, you may be surprised at the oldies but goodies you have lying around just waiting for a 110-degree day when you must stay inside and watch a movie to dodge the heat. Stick to the Africa theme and pull out these favorites: Madagascar, Madagascar 2, Madagascar 3 (And, guess what? Madagascar 4 will be out in 2018!), The Lion King, Out of Africa, Duma, and Invictus. Invictus is rated PG-13, so save it for a double-feature night after the littles hit the sack! We also found Tarzan, George of the Jungle, Mighty Joe Young, The Prince of Egypt, and Sahara.

Don’t forget the field trip! Every good lesson ends with a culminating experience that ties the entire unit together. The Phoenix Zoo has its very own Africa Trail that is the perfect capper for the Africa Imagination Destination. Beginning June 1 through August 31, the zoo is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. so get an early start. Check or for discount coupons, especially if you plan a limited visit.

For the over achiever out there, take a day trip and head up to Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde. The park’s website has extensive details. Tickets can be purchased online, there are discount offers on their website and you can get a free visit during your birthday month! The park offers overnight camps, photography workshops, an interactive app for your smart phone and of course a zip line!

We also made Safari Snack Mix to enjoy while watching all those movies and for our field trips. This is my favorite kind of snack. Just dump and crunch! It is easily adaptable to what you have on hand as well.

Safari snack mix

  • 2 cups frosted Honey Nut Cheerios
  • 2 cups plain Cheerios
  • 1 1/2 cups animal crackers
  • 1 1/2 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup dried banana chips
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups Teddy Grahams snack crackers
  • 1 1/2 Gold Fish crackers
  • 1 (5 1/2-ounce) box Sunkist fruit snacks

Toss all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.