Make an African Djembe Drum Activity

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Updated on Jun 4, 2014

What better way is there to introduce another culture to your child than by way of music? Throughout West Africa, the djembe (pronounced JEM-bay) drum is played at all kinds of gatherings and community functions. Typically made from one piece of carved hardwood tree, these skin-covered instruments are shaped like an oversized goblet and played with bare hands. Using household objects, your child can create her own simplified version to provide hours of fun and cultural exploration at home.

What You Need:

  • Terra cotta colored plastic planter with a 7-inch diameter)
  • Plastic lid, such as a disposable food storage container lid
  • Sturdy plastic container along with a tight sealing lid (separate from the other lid) such as a deli food storage container or takeout container for soups
  • Beans or other small objects to weigh the plastic container down
  • Thin twine or string
  • Medium weight twine
  • Glue gun
  • Craft glue
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • Black paint or markers

What You Do:

  1. Help your child attach the thin twine in a zigzag pattern all the way around the planter, applying a generous dollop of glue to the top and bottom of the string. Press down on the string for a couple of seconds to ensure that the string sets in the desired location.
  2. Next, have your child apply glue to the inner rim of the food storage container lid and press it down onto the top of the planter for a couple of seconds. This is the top of the drum.
  3. Using medium weight twine and craft glue, your child can decorate the top and bottom rims of the drum. This will also cover up any visible beads of hot glue.
  4. Ask your child to paint the plastic container brown and allow it to dry completely.
  5. Apply a generous amount of glue to the bottom of the planter and attach the plastic container to it. This is the base of the drum.
  6. Have your child fill that container with beans or other small objects to make it more stable.
  7. Now your child can decorate the base with paint or markers.
  8. It’s time for drumming fun! Watch your child’s delight as he makes new beats and rhythms with his homemade, African-inspired percussion instrument!