The best way to learn about the animals, ecosystems and cultures of Africa is to visit. If you can’t make it to Africa, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is a taste of Africa closer to home.
Most people know about the savannas filled with animals that surround the Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House and Kidani Village. You can step out on your balcony and get an up close viewing of zebras, giraffes and ostriches. What many people don’t know is that Animal Kingdom Lodge has the largest collection of African art outside of the continent of Africa on display and cast members who are cultural representatives from 14 different countries in Africa who share their traditions and knowledge with guests. The experiential learning opportunities are everywhere and Disney has created fun activities to immerse guests of all ages.
Guests staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge receive a Recreation Calendar which in addition to providing the standard pool activities and Movies under the Stars schedule, outlines the special African cultural activities and programs they offer at AKL. My family’s favorite is a group of activities that have children collect a “String of Memories” beads.
There are eight activities that you collect beads for your “String of Memories”. These activities
focus on learning about both the culture of Africa and the animals. These activities can be completed by guests of any age, but a younger child will require parental assistance with a few activities that require reading. You do not have to complete these activities in any specific order, and you can do as many or as few as you wish. If you happen to collect all eight beads for participating in all eight activities you collect a special “Mickey” bead. The activities are held at locations throughout both Jambo House and Kidani Village. They are offered free of charge to resort guests and your child gets to take home a reminder of all the fun and learning they experienced. Here is the current schedule. (January 2019 AKL Recreation Schedule)
Here are the current topics for the eight bead activities:
African Wonders - Discover the continent of Africa through an interactive matching game.
Music of the Savanna - Play African instruments and learn about our role in the circle of life.
Animal Programs and Wildlife Discoveries:
Flamingo Behavior - Learn more about these beautiful birds and their behavior with an expert.
Animal Tracking - Use your observation skills to look for clues to learn how scientists track animals in the wild.
Bio Blocks - Balance the biodiversity blocks that make up a strong African ecosystem.
Animal Enrichment - Help Animal Experts as they prepare and present interactive objects to the animals on the Savanna.
Have You Heard? - Match wildlife to their vocalizations in a poolside listening game.
Wildlife Games - Test your animal knowledge with our animal experts.
These fun and engaging hands on activities give children the opportunity to:
Learn about the importance of organisms within an ecosystem.
Engage in the observation and collection of data for various species and learn about how this data is used by scientists.
Interact with cultural representative from different African countries who explain the traditions and importance of music and oral storytelling within African cultures.
Students learn the importance of beads and their role in orally documenting the cultures history.
These are some curriculum connections that can be used when requesting an excused absence from school for your child.
HERE you will find a temple that I have used in the past for my children’s trip. Remember to consult your local school for their regulations and requirements. The “String of Memories” is a great way for your child to share their learning when they return to school.