Shekere Instrument Activity

3.2 based on 41 ratings
Updated on Jul 22, 2013

A shekere is an African percussion instrument traditionally made of a dried gourd with the pulp and seeds removed and then wrapped in skillful beadwork and netting. During folkloric and sometimes modern musical performances, it is shaken or hit against one’s hands. Using an empty plastic bottle, your child can create a newfangled and loosely interpreted version by stringing colorful beads around the exterior. Beading is a fun way for your child to develop fine motor skills, concentration, and hand-eye coordination.

This project takes several hours to complete with a high level of concentration and demanding hand/finger muscles workout, so it is best to plan on doing it in multiple sessions. In this example, over 900 beads are used in a repetitive pattern, but a simpler alternative requiring fewer beads is also provided below.

What You Need:

  • 32 strands of orange beading cord, each approximately 12” long
  • Lots of colored beads
  • Bowls for each color of beads
  • Twine
  • Empty liter bottle with a cap

What You Do:

  1. Have your child fill the bowls with beads, sorted by color.
  2. Help your child to tie a piece of twine around the shoulder of the bottle as well as around the base of the bottle.

  3. Then have her attach 8 strands of orange beading cord to the top string by tying a knot on each one. 

  4. Working with a pair of cords at a time, bead the same pattern of 4 beads on both the left and the right cord and then tie a knot. Repeat this color pattern six times, tying a final knot onto the bottom piece of twine.     

  5. Work all the way around the bottle in this manner until your child has 4 sets of patterned beads.
  6. Have her tie 8 more strands of orange cord around the top string wherever there is open space and repeat steps 3 and 4. Repeat this step two more times until she has a total of 16 bead sets.
  7. Now your child has 32 tails of cord hanging below the bottom twine. Working with a pair of cords at a time, have her thread 10 orange beads onto each, repeating all the way around the bottle so that she has a total of 16 strands of orange beads.
  8. Gather all the excess cord tails beneath the bottle and tightly tie twine around the bottom of them and tie a couple of knots.
  9. For added sound, she can pour a couple handfuls of beads into the bottle.

Alternative method: To create a simpler version suitable for younger children in preschool through second grade, simply attach 32 strands of orange cord to the top strand of twine and have your child string single strands of beads all the way around. Tie them off with a knot around the bottom strand of twine. Follow steps 8 and 9.

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