Rainforest Drum Circle for the Win!


Over here in South Jersey we have gotten alot of rain lately... and by a lot, I mean TOO MUCH! So what's the best way to cope with bad weather? DRUM CIRCLE! My kiddos love when I just break out the drums and let them jam. Sometimes we just improv and with my little ones I rely on staff and myself heavily to maintain a steady rhythm, beat and tempo. This year specifically we are really working on indepndence so I wanted this activity to be more open and loosely structured. So we created: The sounds of the rainforest. Think about it... all of these sounds are random, sporadic, and unhibited. So here's what instruments we used:

1. Ocean drum- This drum can be anything you want it to be! Thunder if hit, lightening if shook, rain if tapped lightly, or water in a stream if moved around.

2. Castanets- Easily made to be the sound of rain falling.

3. Conga- When tapped lightly, it can be rain falling but when hit with an open palm, it could make the sound of thunder.

4. Hand drums- You can have the clients use their fingers to tap lightly for rain, or use a mallet to make thunder.

5. Cabasa- Obviously this one is rain!

6. Cymbal- The cymbal could be used as rain when tapped with wooden or plastic sticks. It could also represent lightening or thunder as well.

7. Floor Drum- This drum is the booming sound that will ultimately be thunder! This drum is what I use to bring some impulse control into the session. We all know that thunder is not continuous. It is sporadic and controlled. So whichever student has what I call the "thunder drum" has to wait to hit the drum. If they are able to, they can independently decide when to hit the drum, but if they need some assistance, I will instruct them on when to wait and when to play.

This activity is awesome with groups but can even be done with an individual client if you set up the instruments all within reach or simply go from one instrument to another. With a group, I will often add the component of having the clients respond musically to the person with the Thunder Drum. After the Thunder Drum is played, the clients must respond one time loudly with their instrument to reflect or resonate the sound. This works on listening skills, impulse control and social skills.

The Rainforest Drum Circle is an awesome team building activity. It encourages listening, group work, and communication. Do you have a creative or themed drum circle idea? We would love to hear about it1 Let us know in the comments below!

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