Scramble for Africa Plan

  1. Presort materials (map, squares, cut out goals) into packets. For a class of 30, you need 5 packets. 
  2. Separate students into groups of 6 & give a leader the Scramble for Africa packet. 
  3. Explain the rules: each student is a country trying to get territory in Africa according to a goal they will receive. Students will take territory by placing 1” squares of construction paper on the map. Each group goes clockwise around the circle, starting with Britain, taking turns placing the paper 1 piece at a time. Conflicts (papers overlapping) will be resolved through wars– RPS. Loser’s square is put away and can’t be reused. Go until all nations have placed all squares.
  4. Have them set up the desks in circles, pass out goals & papers. Students should not know each others’ goals—only their own. 
  5. Wait to start all at the same time. Give 15 minutes for the activity itself. 
  6. All wars should be conducted with your supervision. (I find that we have to go over a standard way to play RPS because students disagree.) 
  7. Afterwards: Ask how many achieved their goals and have volunteers read each nation’s goal. Connect to the real scramble for Africa by comparing to a real map of Africa in 1914. Create a compare/contrast Venn diagram together. 
  8. Return all materials & move desks back to normal – start notes on Africa 

Instructions as shown to students: 

  1. Claim territory according to your goals. 
  2. Starting with Great Britain and going clockwise, place 1 piece of paper on the map to claim territory until all countries have used up their paper. 
  3. You may place over another country’s claim.
  4. Once all countries have claimed territory, resolve any conflicts through wars. 

Rules for WAR 

  1. Wars are conducted through Rock, Paper, Scissors. 
  2. Best 2/3 rounds wins, and keeps the territory. 
  3. Loser must remove their square and cannot place it back on the map. Your soldiers are dead. 


  1. Portugal – secure African coastal areas to help develop secure trade routes with Asia 
  2. England—secure a colonial empire (as much as you can) so we can build a transcontinental railroad that would extend from north to south. Keep port cities. 
  3. France—secure a transcontinental empire (as much as you can) from west to east. We also want to gain control of old trading posts on the west coast. 
  4. Germany—secure new colonies on the west coast and east coast for trading posts. We have no hold in Africa and really want one. 
  5. Spain—secure African coastal areas to help develop secure trade routes with Asia. 
  6. Italy—secure an African empire of any kind, we came into the imperialist race late and want to catch up. Closer to Italy is better. 

Note on proportions— 
My numbers and sizes are based on the students using an 8”x11” map of Africa. If you use a larger map (could be good) just adjust accordingly by making the squares larger, or upping each one by the same number of squares. The idea is that the amount of territory they can claim is related to how much was actually claimed by their nation.
Portugal – 3 squares
England—6 squares
France—5 squares
Germany—4 squares
Spain—2 squares
Italy—2 squares

Map— I use a blank map of Africa with a few major physical features (rivers mostly) and important port cities labeled. Definitely no political boundaries. Keep your map in a sheet protector!