Sound and Paper Patterns

Read “The Leopard’s Drum,” and then invent patterns—with words, drums, or hands. Children represent their sounds visually with bold colors.

  • 1.

    With children, read aloud “The Leopard’s Drum.” Ask children to listen for the word “drum” so they can make gentle drumming noises every time they hear the word.

  • 2.

    Study the book’s end papers. Name geometric shapes used. Ask children to describe how shapes and bright colors are combined to make patterns. Ask children to explain how white space is used to separate patterns.

  • 3.

    Ask children to find similar geometric patterns in the book’s illustrations (mask, Nyame’s clothing, etc.).

  • 4.

    Invite children to invent sound patterns with drums or using their hands on tables. Count to 3, 4, or more sounds in each pattern component. How can they represent the patterns in the book using sounds?

  • 5.

    Children create their own patterns on white paper using Crayola® Gel FX Markers. Encourage them to make use of white space, too.

  • 6.

    Children explain their work to the class. Children find similarities among their sound and color patterns.


  • LA: With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear.
  • LA: With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.
  • MATH: Know number names and the count sequence.
  • MATH: Identify and describe shapes.
  • MATH: Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.
  • VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.
  • VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.


  • Children cut and/or fold their designs to craft masks or clothing.
  • Ask someone from an African drum circle to engage children in drumming.
  • Listen to recordings of African drums. Drum along with the music.
  • Create original costumes using African designs. Reenact the story of “The Leopard’s Drum”.
  • Find folktales from other countries that involve tricksters, greed, or cleverness. Compare and contrast the stories and their resolution.
  • Create drums with recycled materials such as oatmeal boxes.