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Learning Experience/Unit

African Drums and Culture

Grade Levels

6th Grade


Rubric will be used for research paper, drum, and PowerPoint presentation combined.

  • Rubric
  • Learning Context/ Introduction

    Students will identify and research several African drums.

    Students will use interdisciplinary skills to build a model of an African drum, write a research paper and demonstrate its use in context.

    Students will present information about one of the kinds of drums in groups through the use of PowerPoint.


    Three weeks while covering other historical content of Africa.
    We held class every day for 40 min.

    Essential Question

    1. Why are drums an important part of African Culture?
    2. What are some different kinds of African Drums? How are they used? What do they look and sound like?
    3. How will you make a drum so that it is similar to an African model of a drum?
    4. How is your drum similar to and different from the African drum you used as a model?

    Instructional/Environment Modifications

    Students completed research and graphic organizer in the computer lab. All other work was done in the classroom rotating on the three computers at the back of the room. Some students created drums in Art Club with the art teacher.


    Week 1:

    After talking about the culture of Africa (World Explorer Textbook) students will be asked to think about how music is different in other cultures.

    Discuss that in the United States music can be heard at parties, in concerts, or on the radio or even in supermarkets. It has many purposes.

    Music also plays many roles in the cultures of African countries. Music is used to send messages or tell a story. It may organize work or celebrate a special occasion.

    Traditional African instruments include xylophones, lutes, harps, horns, flutes, clarinets, bells, and drums. Drums are a very important part of music.

    After this discussion students will work on a web worksheet project

    Goal one: List several different types of African drums and a short description of each. Use the computer lab and research links provided on the worksheet to conduct your research.

    Week 2:

    Goal two: Choose two drums to research in depth. Add all research to the African Drum web worksheet.

    Goal Three: Use inspiration to map out the paragraphs for the essay.

    Week 3:

    Goal Four: Type the essay and create a model of a drum.

    Goal Five: Work in groups to create a PowerPoint presentation about African drums to present to the class.

    Students will also be using epals, a monitored e-mail program for school, to e-mail students in South Africa to enrich their learning. Many students have already had contact with another student from South Africa and they really enjoy the experience. Click here to learn more about epals.

  • African Drums Web Sheet.doc
  • African Drums.isf
  • Reflections and Feedback

    This lesson was developed to give students some hands on experience with a cultural concept being taught in the Africa textbook.

    This lesson needed to be modified for special education students and that proved to be an additional step in this long process. I simply cut down back the requirements for the web worksheet, Inspiration web, and written paper. To make the work samples available to students who needed them, I placed them in a public folder that students can access. They saved their own work to their individual folders. With help from the special education teachers, all students were able to complete the project with success.

    Many teachers were interested in using epals after I talked about this project. I have helped many set up accounts. This was a great addition to the unit, but proved to be unsuccessful because the students in Africa went on summer vacation in December, at just about the time we were starting to e-mail more. In the future, I will have to remember to plan for these kinds of time changes when working with others around the world.

    This lesson was very packed with information but greatly enjoyed by all students. They liked the variety of information shared and the great deal of knowledge gained from different learning experiences.

    Student Work

    Students filled out a web-worksheet and made an Inspiration web in planning for their paper. They also made a drum as a model of one African drum, and a group PowerPoint presentation with one slide created by each student.
    Student Drum
    Student Drum 1
    Student Drum 2
    Student Drum 3

  • High Essay
  • Med. Essay
  • Low Essay
  • Med Web Sheet
  • High Web Sheet
  • Related Resource

    World Explorer Africa Textbook
    Various web sites (see web worksheet)
    I also asked the music teacher if she would be willing to join in on the project. Students were able to use their music textbook to learn about some African drums and music. They also learned to play the rhythm of many African songs.
    QuickTime Video Clip:

  • Students in Music

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