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Grandparents column: Help children celebrate spring

2:15 PM, Apr. 24, 2013  |  Comments
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No matter what stage of spring is in your neighborhood, this is an exciting time for young children. Get outdoors, find dry pavement, and feel the rhythm of nature as leaves sprout, flowers appear, and birds return to build nests. Build your own oatmeal carton drum to celebrate the rhythms of spring!

Materials

Oatmeal or cornmeal boxes, construction paper, markers, tape, child scissors, and white craft glue

What to do

Cut a strip of construction paper two inches taller and one inch longer than the distance around the box. Wrap the box in paper and leave one inch at the top and bottom. Tape the sides together. Cut slips into the paper at the top and bottom of the box. Fold and glue paper down all the way around the box for a drum. Use markers to draw designs around the drum. If you like, string a cord through holes cut into the top and bottom of the drum. Tie the ends together to wear the drum around the waist. Children may play the drum with their hands or make a simple drumstick out of a marshmallow and a plastic drinking straw.

Put on some music in which drumming is featured. Have a conversation about drums as you and your children work together. What do drums look like? What do they sound like? Discuss the pattern of rhythm and drumbeats. Can we repeat the rhythm of a favorite song? Can we create our own rhythms? Does nature have any rhythms? What would a deer running through the woods sound like, a bird flying to its nest, an approaching thunderstorm, or a flower bursting into bloom?

How will this help my children?

Skills involved in this project include listening, following directions, repeating or creating a pattern and connecting with the natural world. These are important prerequisites for learning, especially in music, math and science.

What else can we do?

Visit the library to look for books about drums. Children would enjoy accompanying you on drums as you read aloud. Suggested books include: "Jungle Drums" by Graeme Base, (a small warthog is given a set of magic drums) and "Drum, Chavi, Drum!" by Mayra L. Dole (a bilingual book with many rhythmic patterns to follow as Chavi proves that girls can play drums, too). Go to a parade or a concert and hear live music. Notice the different shapes and sizes of actual drums. Experiment with making drums out of different materials.

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