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I. Major Topic: Ghana: A West African Trading Empire

Date: 12/9/13

Grade Level: 7

Tape (for sections of the room)
Labels (for sections of the room)
Gold and Salt Pieces to be cut out
9 pieces of paper
Rules for barter system (to be projected)
Rules for Trading Game (to be projected)
Vocabulary assignment (sheets and online)
Discussion questions
Reading Packets (in case of early end)
III. STATE/Local Standards:
History 8: Empires in Africa (Ghana, Mali and Songhay) and Asia (Byzantine, Ottoman,
Mughal and China) grew as commercial and cultural centers along trade routes.
Geography 14: Trade routes connecting Africa, Europe, and Asia fostered the spread of
technology and major world religions.
Geography 15: Improvements in transportation, communication and technology have
facilitated cultural diffusion among peoples around the world.
Economics 19: Individuals, governments and businesses must analyze costs and benefits
when making economic decisions. A cost benefit analysis consists of determining the
potential costs and benefits of an action and then balancing the costs against the benefits.
Economics 20: The variability in the distribution of productive resources in various
regions of the world contributed to specialization, trade and interdependence.
IV. Learning Targets:

I can explain how trade in salt and gold lead to the growth of Ghana and Mali
I can describe the government of Ghana

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I can evaluate how trade affected different groups in West Africa both culturally
and religiously

Group Size: 22

Ghana Gold Trade Experiential Exercise

Suggested time: 90 minutes
1. Prepare for the activity. Before class, prepare materials and the classroom for
the activity. Follow these steps:
Copy Student Handout A: Gold Tokens and Student Handout B: Salt Tokens, as
directed on the Materials Page.
Cut enough gold tokens from one copy of Student Handout 12A to distribute one
token to half the students in the class.
Divide the room into four areas, as shown in the presentation.
Tape five labelsNorth Africa, Sahara, Taghaza, Ghana, and Wangarain the
appropriate places.
Place two desks in Ghana and two near Taghaza.
2. Assign roles. Follow these steps:
Assign two students to be salt miners in Taghaza, a city in the Sahara, and two
students to be Ghana government officials. Have them sit at the appropriate desks.
Divide the remaining students into two equal-size groups.
Designate one of the groups as North African traders and the other as
Wangaran gold miners. Have each group sit on the floor in its assigned area.
Explain that Wangara is a gold-rich region south of Ghana. (Note: Historically, the
salt miners in Taghaza were slaves of Arab merchants. In this activity, they will be
referred to as salt miners.)
3. Prepare students for the game. Follow these steps:
Distribute a copy of Student Handout 12A to each of the Wangaran gold miners.
Distribute a copy of Student Handout 12B to each of the North African traders.
Have students cut or tear out their tokens.
Have each of the North African traders keep three of their salt tokens. They
should write their names on the others and give those labeled tokens to the
Taghaza salt miners. Explain that the tokens given to the salt miners represent salt
that they will mine during the game. The tokens kept by the traders represent
salt they have already acquired in Taghaza.
Give each North African trader one of the gold tokens you have prepared.
Give the Wangaran gold miners each a sheet of paper and ask them to place
these on the floor before them.
4. Guide students through a practice round. In the presentation, project
Information Master 12A: Practicing How to Trade in West Africa. Follow the
steps on Information Master 12A to guide students through a practice round. The
tips listed below will help the practice round proceed smoothly and help you

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understand the historical analogies. (Note: Historical analogies for each step are
also provided below. Do not reveal the historical analogies to students now.)
Tips for Step 1
Remind students that this is a practice round.
For this practice round, make sure that each trader is paired with a Wangaran
Historical Analogy- Crawling across the desert represents the difficulty of transSaharan trade.
-Payment of the gold token to the Ghana official represents the tax Ghana charged
on goods coming into and going out of Ghana.
-Turning their backs represents the system of silent barter used by the North
African traders and Wangarans.
Tips for Step 2
Emphasize that students may not talk during the trading.
They must turn their backs after an offer has been made.
They must clap to indicate that some decision has been reached.
Remind students that gold and salt tokens will be returned aft er this practice
Historical Analogy- Clapping represents the beating of drums announcing a trade
Tips for Step 3
Explain that if either the North African trader or the Wangaran gold miner is
unhappy with the first offer made by the other, he or she can make a counteroffer.
For this practice round, state that the North African trader is not happy with the
Wangarans offer. Have students practice the options listed. When they understand
how to make a counteroffer, have them return the tokens they have traded.
Historical Analogy- Although the game allows only one counteroffer per trade,
silent barter, historically, might have continued for many rounds over several
Tip for Step 4
Explain that after North African traders have traded their three tokens, they can
get more salt tokens for trading by going to Taghaza, but on the way they must
pay taxes to Ghana officials.
Historical Analogy- This step is analogous to how traders paid Ghana a tax
whenever they moved goods through Ghana.
5. Have students play the game independently. In the presentation, project
Information Master 12B: Conducting Trade in West Africa and read through the
steps and rules listed there. Ask if students have any questions. Then allow them
to play for 20 minutes or until a few students have no tokens left with which to
If students have difficulty distinguishing who is clapping, have students whisper
their names when they clap. Also, you may wish to have the Taghaza salt miners
write receipts for salt, which traders must show to the Ghana officials for tax
purposes as they travel through Ghana. This will prevent students from trying to
smuggle salt through Ghana.

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6. Declare the winners. Have the traders count their gold tokens and the gold
miners count their salt tokens. Declare the winners to be the North African trader
and the Wangaran miner who have the most of their required tokens. Also ask the
Ghana officials to report how many gold tokens they collected.
7. Debrief the activity. Ask,
What problems did you encounter when you could not talk with the person with
whom you wished to trade?
Why might North African traders and Wangaran gold miners have used a
method of trading that involved silent communication?
How were the students who represented Ghana able to get gold?
Why were traders willing to pay this tax to Ghana?