Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai (Kenya)

Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, took a simple idea and used it to create lasting impact. When she saw how deforestation was degrading both the landscape and the lives of Kenya’s rural people, Maathai created a tree-planting movement that quickly spread across Kenya and empowered thousands of women to unite together in a way that changed the face of their country—and the world!

Through Maathai’s story, your students will not only grow in their love and respect for the earth, but will also grasp how even the simplest steps in the right direction can empower entire communities to face “insurmountable” problems and work together to heal the world.

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Through Wangari Maathai’s story you will:

  • Foster appreciation for diverse people and cultures
  • Empower your students to environmental activism
  • Introduce a strong female role model
  • Develop Social and Emotional skills
  • Create a culture of empathy and welcome
  • Integrate multiple intelligences
  • Engage with your local community
  • Contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
  • Connect with other classrooms around the world

This 76-page unit includes:

  • A cultural immersion experience that celebrates Kenya’s heritage
  • Well-researched content on deforestation and Wangari Maathai
  • Multifaceted, authentic activities (spanning all intelligences and content areas)
  • Discussion questions and vocabulary words for each section
  • Over 100 additional resources listed and linked
  • Comprehensive lists of theme-appropriate picture books
Exploring the story of Wangari Maathai allowed our learners to not only dive deeply into Kenya's rich culture and history, but also encouraged and motivated them to grapple with environmental issues in a real and meaningful way. Most importantly, it instilled within them a passion and conviction to take action, including an amazing "Wangari Maathai" theater production with the creative anthem song "We Must Plant Trees," and lots of tree planting! The impact of this story on our learners is still evident today.

— Timo Lehman, School Principal, Kenya

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