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Students Learn and Perform a Play about African Culture


Students in costumes sit with a woman in a leopard print skirt   A girl dressed as an iguana speaks into a microphone held by a woman in an animal print skirt

The students at Masera Learning Center took an academic adventure to Africa to learn why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears, and then came back to tell their classmates. Lisa Engasser’s sixth grade class performed the African myth Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears for their middle school classmates. Masera Learning Center (MLC) is an Eastern Suffolk BOCES school that provides special education services to elementary and middle school students with special needs.


The students worked on the play in art, English, and social studies classes in a way to learn all about the continent of Africa. In English class, they studied cultural stories passed down through generations and discussed languages native to the continent. In social studies, they looked at maps of different African nations and studied the customs of the people who live there. In art class, the students created the costumes they wore in the play, as well as African rain sticks, and traditional African masks.


“We were really able to come together and help the students learn through their own curiosity,” said MLC Art Teacher Loriann Christian. “The students would ask questions like ‘what animals live there?’ or ‘what is it like for them to go to school?’ and we’d watch a video or do research to answer their questions.”


After the performance, the group broke up by class to join in a drum circle and do African-inspired art projects. Students could either create an African rain stick, which is a kind of musical instrument, or a traditional African Mask.


A student dressed as a monkey beats a drum  Three students, two girls and one boy, smile as they play maracas   A young girl plays an African rain stick   A young boy smiles as he decorates a traditional African Mask