Teaching Ideas

Encouraging Dialogue

For Students K-12

  • Akua'ma (singular akua'ba) are highly stylized sculptures that depict the perfect baby to the Asante. What qualities or characteristics do you think of when you think of a healthy baby? What visual characteristics of the akua’ba doll suggest health?
  • When akua’ma have served their purpose, they are often used to teach young girls how to care for a child. How is child-rearing learned in our society? Why do you think we play with dolls as children? Consider the similarities and differences between the akua’ba doll and a doll that you might have played with when you were young.
  • Watch this video to learn the story of Akua: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhsmohSq3HA The story of Akua was passed down orally by the Asante. How are stories disseminated in your culture?

Making Connections

For Students K-12

  • Various features on this akua’ba are abstracted to exaggerate qualities believed to be healthy and beautiful by the Asante. Use a mirror to sketch a self-portrait, or create a drawing of your friend. At first, focus on capturing it in great detail. Then, create a second drawing with less detail, yet emphasizing the features that you believe are positive and beautiful.
  • Brainstorm and list as a group the qualities and characteristics of an ideal caretaker. Draw a picture of the ideal caretaker (it can be symbolic or abstract), and share your drawing with a classmate. Write a short story about this caretaker, or create an advertisement for the perfect caretaker.
  • Because an Akua’ba doll may be passed between generations, it can be viewed as a treasured heirloom. Interview several family members who are older than you (parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents) about heirlooms that have been passed between generations.