Thursday, June 28, 2012

Drumming, Movement, and Story

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andrea was the perfect lead-in to drumming and dancing this week for Story Story Dance. After our standard warm-up and the story, I brought out the djembe. Students explored various types of movement as I played. I encouraged them to use their whole bodies to move with the drum. In my experience, children have no hang-ups when it comes to embodying the sounds of the drum, they are fearless and go for it.

For the next part of the class, I told the children that now they would be the drummers and the dancers. One by one I introduced them to a variety of percussion instruments and showed them how to play it. This included three homemade shaker drums two frog drums, a rain stick, a gecko clacker, and tone block. The frog drums invited us to have a great discussion about same and different. One of the frogs was small and yellowish, the other was bigger and very dark brown. We also listened closely to the sounds they made to determine if their sounds were the same or different. Then, we counted all the instruments to see how many we had all together.

Percussion Instruments

Music and instruments invite so much opportunity for children to show what they know and make connections across the curriculum.

For the drumming dance party, I broke the class up in half by inviting students up to play the instruments while the others danced, then switched. Once the drummers had their instruments, we reviewed two hand signals - start and stop. If you have never been a part of a drum circle, I cannot in words describe the excitement that occurs when all the drummers are playing and then all stop together. There is something magical in that moment when everyone stops at the same time. My little drummers got to experience this yesterday and the magic was definitely there.

I ended class by giving everyone a turn to come up to the djembe and play it.  This is always a fun activity because everyone gets to have their moment to hear themselves on the drum. Some children hit as hard as they can, some play a little quiet, some give it one big whack then walk away, while others take a moment to find a rhythm.

So much fun and so much learning!

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