Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kenya crafts: drums

For this crafts activity, we made an afternoon of it. We invited some friends to join in the fun as we made drums, listened to music and ate Kenyan peanut soup together! I also put our Kenyan books out so the kids could look at them.

For inspiration, I played an African music CD from Putumayo that I had. Though none of the music was from Kenya, it helped get us in the mood. There are one-minute sample clips online, but you can't download songs (or even the whole album). But you can download individual songs from Smithsonian Folkways, which has an amazing collection of world music, including Children's Songs from Kenya.

On to the drum making!


  • fabric - we used some of the cotton fabric that I have from Kenya (thanks to a traveling friend), but any would work. You could even use white fabric and paint it.
  • parchment paper
  • craft glue
  • rubber bands
  • a metal container - I bought small plant holders from IKEA for $2/each. You could also use an oatmeal tin (metal or cardboard)
Before the kids came, I cut the parchment paper into squares that were the right size to cover the top of the metal container (big enough to cover it and have some hanging over the sides to be held down by the rubber band). I also cut strips of fabric for decoration. I waited for the kids to come and let them pick from the fabrics for the top of their drum and then cut them in squares the same size as the parchment paper.

fabric choices

The first step was to glue the parchment paper to the fabric. I poured the craft glue on paper plates and then the kids used wooden chopsticks (easier to find in Singapore than wooden popsicle sticks!) to spread the glue around.

Then they stuck the fabric to the paper.

And finally, with the help of a parent, we put the fabric/parchment paper on the top of the metal container and wrapped 3-4 rubber bands around the top to hold the paper in place. And then we had ourselves a drum!

I had also cut out strips of cloth to be used as embellishments, which could have been glued around the base or threaded through the rubber bands. Our little ones didn't have much attention for it and were happy to have their finished drums, but older kids might be into more decoration.

Then, I put on this video of kids in Kenya dancing, drumming and singing. The kids had fun clapping and drumming along.

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