When Africa was Home – Constructed Response Lesson

Materials needed:

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This lesson will help guide the students in writing a constructed response for the book When Africa Was Home.


Before reading the book, give some background knowledge about the book. Info from the author’s website:

Peter was not even a year old when we took him to Malawi for what turned out to be nearly four years. He had a wonderful freedom there—time and space to run and play with a whole village of friends outside his door. But it was a bit of a shock to me to realize that while I still considered America to be my home, Peter did not even remember anything at all about the United States. Africa was the only home he knew. I wrote this story after we had returned to Pittsburgh. As I wrote in my tiny study, I was so involved in the story that I felt like I had traveled back to Africa. Sometimes I was so homesick for the quiet lifestyle and gentle people there that I found myself writing with tears running down my cheeks. After I finished the book I thought that no one would be interested in reading about Peter’s life in Africa unless they had lived there too. But I was wrong, this book resonates with many readers and I know that is because I was able to capture my passion for the place that still remains very close to my heart.

Ask the students what they love about their home and where they live. The main character of Peter loves his home too. His home is in Malawi, Africa. Let’s read to find out what he loves about his home.

Read the book to the class.

After finishing the book, have the class sit eye-to-eye, knee-to-knee and share ideas on what Peter loved about his home. Ask for some partners to share out.

As you record ideas on the chart paper, go back into the text to show each part when the ideas are shared. Model going back into the text to find support for the answers. List the ideas on the chart paper.

Share the constructed response question. (Peter loved living in Africa. He couldn’t wait to move back there. How was Africa his home? Use examples from the text.) The students go back to their seats to write their answer. They can use multiple copies of the text or the list of ideas as support in their writing.


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