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Nigerian Dundun Drum

Create an authentic replica of a Nigerian dundun and make it sing!

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. While investigating the continent of Africa, ask students to research which parts of Africa play talking drums. One example is a Nigerian dundun drum. How is it made? What materials are used? How does it sound when played?
    2. After investigating the Nigerian drums, as well as the patterns used to adorn them, ask students to supply two plastic flower pots or urns from home. One flower pot is to be placed face down on strong, stretchy, neutral-colored fabric.
    3. Using a Crayola® Marker, students trace around the mouth of the flower pots onto the fabric. A second circle is traced, but this one is about two finger-widths wider than the first circle. Dots are placed all around the two circles. The dots are about three finger widths apart.
    4. Using Crayola Scissors, students cut around the outer circle and punch holes through all of the dots. Repeat Steps 3 & 4 for the second, matching pot. Line up the holes from the first circle so that there are the same number of holes in each circle.
    5. Students tie the smaller ends of the pots together with long, plastic twist ties or similar items. Thread two ties through the drain holes of each pot and tie them so that the pots are secure. Wrap duct tape around the joint between the two pots.
    6. Demonstrate how to use Crayola Crayons to create a wood effect on the pots. Provide time for students to do the same.
    7. Place the drum upright, like an hourglass. Place one of the fabric circles under the bottom drumhead and the other fabric circle on the top. Use a long length of twine to stretch from top to bottom, back and forth, all the way around the drum.
    8. After covering their work area with recycled newspaper, students create a glaze for their drums by combining water and Crayola School Glue. Glaze the drumhead and allow time for the glaze to dry.
    9. A curved plastic or wooden kitchen utensil can be used as a drum stick. While playing the drum, students hold the drum under one arm. Take time to experiment with making the drum create various sounds.
    10. Students create an original drum language after experimenting with their drums. Play for classmates and see if they can decipher original messages!
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Explore ways that language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements may facilitate global understanding or lead to misunderstanding.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

    VA: Identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places.

  • Adaptations

    Working in small groups, students investigate western African talking drums.

    Encourage students to create other drums in the dundun family to make a complete set. Play each drum. Compare and contrast the sounds from each.

    African drummers use the drums to spread good news, warn others of danger, tell about Yoruba gods, play to people in the marketplace, or play on a day of celebration. Students play their dundun drums, creating a royal procession to celebrate the arrival of a king, or someone else that is special.

    Students research the different types of drums found on various continents. How are they made? How do the people use the drums? How are the drums from various continents similar? How are they different?

    Invite the school's music teacher to speak with the class about dundun drums and the western African culture. Prior to the visit, students compose questions for the guest. After the meeting, students post learning to a class blog.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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