by Dennis Dalman – firstname.lastname@example.org
When the children visited Africa, they snapped like crocodiles, they grunted like gorillas and then they tiptoed through Tanzania.
The “Africa” the children experienced came in the form of a giant map of that continent, which filled the entire floor of the Pine Meadow Elementary School Media Center. The huge plastic map, 25 feet by 35 feet, is a learning device provided by the National Geographic Society. Thanks to Sartell resident and St. Cloud State University Social Studies Methods Professor Kyle Ward, the map was enjoyed by students during its recent two-day visit to Sartell Middle School and PME. Ward’s daughter, Annika, is a first-grader at PME in Peggy Fogarty’s class. That class of 21 students took their African safari on the afternoon of Jan. 29.
Ward conducted the learning session with help from two of his college students who plan to become social-studies teachers – Shane Broerman of Sauk Centre and Bill McDonald of St. Michael.
First, the students sat at the edge of the map and answered questions posed by Ward – questions about directions, border lines, lakes, rivers, mountains, jungles, savannah grasslands and deserts – all notable features of the African landscape. A few minutes later, the eager students in their stockinged feet swarmed onto the map, sprawling and squirming from country to country. Then they played a version of “Simon Says.” Ward and his assistants asked the teams to find areas on the map and then act out some aspect of that area.
“I want you to find Gabon and then make the sounds of its lowland gorillas.”
“Go to Lake Victoria and yawn like the hippos.”
“Find a country that starts with the letter ‘N.’ There are three of them.”
“Swim in the Nile River and snap like a crocodile.”
“Now I’d like you to tiptoe through Tanzania.”
It didn’t take the alert, observant students long at all to do their assigned tasks.
They also learned some fun facts from Ward. The country of Sudan is so large 11 states the size of Minnesota would fit within its borders. The entire United States would fit nicely into the area of the Sahara Desert in North Africa.
There are seven vast maps available from the National Geographic Society, each of a different continent. Next year, Ward hopes to bring the huge map of Europe to Sartell schools.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.