Tent Textiles

Tent Textiles lesson plan

Mansa Musa, the Lion of Mali in western Africa, is part fiction and part fact. Recreate brilliant textiles from this ancient culture using Crayola® Oil Pastels.

  • 1.

    Read <U>Mansa Musa</U> by Khephra Burns. You will learn about the wonder and beauty of ancient cities and people in the western African empire of Mali. Pay special attention to the illustrations. Do further research to determine which parts of the story are fact and which are fiction. Share your findings with classmates.

  • 2.

    On construction paper, use Crayola Colored Pencils to outline a large nomadic tent. With Crayola Scissors, cut out the tent. Cut a slit up the middle of the tent, stopping near the top.

  • 3.

    Use Crayola Oil Pastels, color one side of the tent in neutral shades to resemble a camel-hair tent. Turn the tent over and create brilliant tapestries and rugs using vibrant colors and authentic patterns.

  • 4.

    Trace the outline of the tent on a larger sheet of construction paper. Inside the outline, draw and color a picture of Mansa Musa surrounded by beautiful tapestries and rugs in various patterns and vibrant colors. Color the area outside the tent to resemble the desert landscape of sand and sky.

  • 5.

    Run a thin line of Crayola School Glue around the outer edge of the drawn tent. Position the cut-out tent over it so that the neutral side faces out. Press into place. Pull back both tent flaps to show the tapestries and rugs within. Place a dot of glue t


  • Students read <U>Mansa Musa</U> by Khephra Burns to enjoy the story and admire the exquisite illustrations.
  • Students recall the history of one of West Africa's great ancient empires, Mali.
  • Students determine which parts of the book are based on fact and which are fiction.
  • Students illustrate a realistic, historic desert tent showing silk tapestries and richly colored and patterned rugs.


  • After reading <U>Mansa Musa</U>, draw or create replicas of men and women in traditional clothing and turbans worn by West Africans during the early 1300s.
  • Do further research about the history of West Africa's great empires. What were the primary characteristics of these cultures? What happened to them-or do they still exist?
  • In <U>Mansa Musa</U>, identify the patterns and colors used in traditional West African art and designs. Create a quilt showing some of these unique designs. Add your own contemporary twists.