The Scramble for Africa

Grades 7-9, 60-120min

The Scramble for Africa is a simulation of the colonization of Africa from 1500 through 1900. Students take on roles of major European countries and are given a dynamic set of objectives as they take turns claiming territory and resources across the map. This activity was adapted from a paper-based lesson by Andrew Patterson.

Topics addressed:

  • Colonization in Africa
  • Geography, natural resources and climates of Africa
  • Primary CT concept: pattern recognition. Students must plan where they want to claim territory over multiple turns in order to succeed, keeping track of where competing countries are moving that may block their paths.

Students will be able to:

  • Explain the objectives of their assigned country in the Scramble for Africa
  • Understand how competition for land and resources led to the scattered layout of colonies in Africa



  • This activity assumes your students are familiar with colonization in Africa – this simulation doesn’t spend time introducing the concepts of colonization or discussing its merits and faults.
  • Decide which students will be representing each team. You can run the simulation with anywhere from one to seven teams – the more, the better!
  • Create a new world code in the Scramble for Africa web app. You can share world- and team-specific links with your students, or simply provide the world code and assigned team to them to enter within the web app.

Suggested lesson breakdown:

  • 5-10min – students complete the first page of the handout, identifying their objectives throughout the game
  • 50-100min – run through of the Scramble for Africa simulation. Each turn is time-limited, but the length of the game will depend on how many teams are playing.
  • 5-10min – students complete the second page of the handout, asking them to evaluate their performance within the simulation

Washington State standards:

  • WA.SS.
    Understands how human spatial patterns have emerged from natural processes and human activities in the past or present.
  • WA.SS.
    Understands and analyzes how individuals and movements have shaped Washington State or world history.