We’ve started a semi-regular drum circle with our playgroup. My saintly friend had been organizing and hosting it independently of my inclination to do one, so this week we collaborated. She hosted, I brought the fun. With Moana all the rage right now I thought a Moana-themed drum circle would be fun. Everyone came! The room was packed and I was sure it would be mayhem. As soon as we began, however, the children settled right down and the mums were actually the biggest distraction.
One little friend showed up in her Moana dress, sat in the front, and didn’t take her eyes off the instruction at all. I told her I noticed her dress and her mum piped up “she has worn it every day since October 4th when she got it for her birthday.” I love your commitment, little friend. That’s awesome.
The book I used for storytelling and for reference recommends the activities for ages 4 and up. Never one to restrict anyone from music fun, I decided to give it a shot despite the large number of 2 year olds in our group. The 2 year olds did much better than I expected, many of them tapping along to our beats! The 4 year olds, however, who were the target audience for the resource I was using, remained fixated on me the whole time. They followed along with all the actions, they eagerly tried out the drums, they took turns telling stories incorporating the actions we had learned.
I used Moana – The Beat of Your Heart: a Musical Exploration Activity Book as the basis of my lesson plan. The book has a little bit of storytelling on each page to introduce the concept and put it into a Moana context. It was enough to keep their attention but didn’t detract. We started by making a beat with our bodies, tapping our heads and shoulders and hearts and knees and the floor. Afterward we learned to clap different ways to create different sounds. We then learned actions to help with storytelling. Finally we learned about four Polynesian drums and played homemade versions of them.
The drums we played were a pahu, a lali, a fa’atete, and two falas. The pahu was an overturned pail, played with palms. Instead of a hollowed-out log we made a lali from a shoebox and played it with wooden spoons. The fa’atete was an oatmeal canister instead of a log. Finally the falas, instead of rolled up mats, were sushi rollers; woven placemats would work well, too.
I didn’t time the duration of our activity, but I would guess that it went much longer than half an hour. That’s longer than the standard attention span of the littles, very impressive! There are still several activities remaining in the book that we didn’t do. We could certainly repeat the activities we did do several more times before the children tired of them. I think I’m going to have to offer to run the drum circle a few more times. The instructions for each make-at-home drum were easy to follow. I bumped up the fa’atete by adding a tapa covering (see here for the tutorial.) I was surprised at how many ooo’s and aaaaah’s I received when I pulled that out of my bag, but people were really impressed! Before our next drum circle I think I’ll go back and enhance the lali.
Often I say no to things because I think they’ll be too hard, too messy, or too loud. I’m so glad I volunteered to do this before I talked myself out of it. The book made it so easy. Several of the mums told me how impressed they were that our activity was so educational, engaging, and fun. A casual playgroup can’t do better than this, friends.
I received this book free of charge for the purpose of my honest review.