African Studies: Photographic Writing Prompts Based on Sierra Leone Artifacts

The ESL Nexus
Grade Levels
5th - 8th, Homeschool
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  • PDF (51 pages)
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If you teach about Africa in a world geography class, read African literature in a Language Arts class, or need an activity for Black History Month, these writing prompts are for you! This resource contains 2 types of writing tasks with different levels of difficulty so they can be used by English Language Learners as well as native English-speaking students. All the writing prompts are based on photographs of 12 artifacts that I bought when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

✓ Please note:

* If you prefer the Google Drive version of this product, you can find it HERE.

* To see examples of the writing prompts used in Writing Task #2, please take a look at the free sampler HERE.

You can have your students work on the prompts individually, in pairs or small groups, or as a whole class if you display one prompt on a whiteboard.

In the first writing task, students select one of the artifacts and write a description of it. This is a great activator when starting a unit about Africa or when introducing a novel with an African theme. With this activity, you can have your students focus on using descriptive language in their writing. You can also have your students practice listening comprehension by having them read their descriptions aloud and asking the rest of the class to guess which artifact is being described.

In the second writing task, students respond to writing prompts about the individual artifacts. There are 27 prompts total and 2-3 writing prompts about each artifact. For each artifact, there is at least one prompt for students at a higher reading and writing level. These prompts ask students to write a persuasive, descriptive, or explanatory paragraph or write a list or do research. For students at lower levels of reading and writing proficiency, the other prompts for each artifact ask them to draw a picture and write a caption or short sentences about them. Since the prompts are already differentiated, you can easily select which ones you want your students to use based on their reading and writing skills.

Supporting materials that make it easy for you to use this resource are also included:

* A glossary of key terms is offered so you can use these prompts with English Language Learners at lower language proficiency levels and other students who need that kind of support.

* A graphic organizer asking students what they already know about Africa and what they want to learn about Africa is included so you can activate their background knowledge.

* Rubrics are provided so you can easily assess your students' writing.

* For reference, a map of Africa and a map of Sierra Leone are included, along with an image of the Sierra Leonean flag, so you can show students where Sierra Leone is located in Africa.

* For students who need more space for their responses, a blank page with just the border is provided.

A list of the ELA Common Core standards addressed in this product and sample WIDA Model Performance Indicators are also provided if you are working in a state that uses them.

The 12 artifacts shown in this resource represent many aspects of African culture in general and Sierra Leonean culture in particular. I am pleased to share them with you and your students so they can learn more about Africa!


What you get in this product:

★ A table of contents for quick reference (1 page)

★ A Notes to the Teacher section with background information (2 pages)

★ List of ELA Common Core Standards addressed (1 page)

★ Sample WIDA Model Performance Indicators (1 page)

★ A graphic organizer asking students what they already know and what they want to learn about Africa (1 page)

★ Maps of Africa and Sierra Leone (1 page)

★ Glossary of key terms (1 page)

★ Notes with details about each individual artifact, for teacher reference (2 pages)

★ Cover pages listing the materials for each type of writing activity (2 pages)

★ Student worksheet for Writing Task #1 (1 page)

★ Sets of images, 3 per page, for Writing Task #1 (4 pages)

★ 2 rubrics for assessing students' work for Writing Task #1, (2 pages)

★ 27 writing prompts for Writing Task #2 (27 pages)

★ Blank page if extra space is needed for student responses for Writing Activity #2 (1 page)

★ 2 rubrics to assess students' work for Writing Task #2 (2 pages)


You may also like these photo-based products:

African Studies: Clip Art Based on Photographs

(This product offers the images of the artifacts used for the writing prompts as stand-alone clip art images)

Presidential Election Discussion and Writing Topics

Photographic Writing Prompts: Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, Turkey

Chinese New Year: Writing and Reading Activities


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Thank you and happy teaching!


Total Pages
51 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.


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