African Patterns and Rhythms Through Repetition of Line and Shapes Playing to Learn, Learning to Play…



Lesson Overview:  A simple musical drama of the African tale Bringing the Rain To Kapiti Plain is created with read in the story and having the students interact with musical instruments.  The students practice how to create a soundscape for rain sounds.  The students become familiarized with the story by “acting” it out as a group.  The main characters and parts are discussed and assigned, and instruments and/or props are selected or assigned to represent each of the parts (Ki-Pat, black cloud, cows (simply “mooing works well, or the students may wish to use a particular instrument for this), grass, Eagle, arrow, bow, rain (everybody), wife, Little Ki-Pat).  After the dramatization, students went right into the visual art piece that is created to represent patterns in a circular pattern for an African Medallion

To Create A Rainstorm as a Soundscape: Do with the entire group

Take plastic grocery bag and rub about (put in pocket to store) or just rub hands together

Softly clap

Snap fingers as loud as possible

Clap louder than the last snapping noises

Get louder!

Stomp feet and clap at the same time

Go backwards from here and do the sounds in reverse order to finally end the rain the way it started (quietly…)

  The circle art using patterns (repeated shapes and lines) is a lot of fun to create. 

The students enjoy the variety of activities that this lesson involves. 

Goals/Objectives:  Learning about Africa through art, story, drama, and music.  A musical dramatization of the African folk tale Bringing the Rain To Kapiti Plain where the students become the performers playing the various people and parts through music and sound. Students select the instrument they wish to use in portraying the various characters of the story as well as create a soundscape with their hands to represent rain sounds.

Materials Needed:  For Musical Drama:  The book, Bringing the Rain To Kapiti Plain (the pictures are beautiful and the students love seeing them.) A variety of hand-held instruments (found sound items, rhythm sticks, triangles, drum); Optional: plastic bag for each student to use during the rain storm.  Art Lesson To Create  Medallion:  To make medallion use a 5 X 5 white drawing paper, trace a 4 ½ inch circle shape for medallion; scissors; variety of fine pointed felt tip markers; African patterns for student inspiration (or any examples of repeated lines and shapes that form patterns.)

  Classroom set-up:  For Musical Drama: A spot for students to gather around in a group, standing of sitting comfortably away from desks.  If the weather permits, outside is nice. Students need to practice briefly how they will play their chosen instrument to represent the person or thing each time it is mentioned as the story is read. For Art Lesson:  Regular classroom setting or art lab is fine.

  Evaluation:  This is great fun for the students.  They love being able to take part in the simple “production.”  This is meant to be a simple enough lesson that it can be accomplished in about an hour with all the pieces finished.  Although I used simple “props” such as paper cutouts to hang on the student’s neck for the cloud and the sky, this could be deleted with no repercussions.  The entire class participating and making the story work as it unfolds is fun and leaves the students feeling good about their accomplishment.  The art piece is a good time to reinforce art concepts such as patterns and repetition as well as variety and balance.  This is an excellent lesson that would lead into a unit on African art and African music.  One situation that is a little difficult is the variety of “instruments” (can be actual musical instruments or found sound items) that are needed.  A variety of things are good to have on hand so the students have some choices.  

  Extensions and Adaptations for Visual Art Projects:  (See examples for each)

·        Medallions with repeated patterns (grades 1-6)

·        “Ki-Pat” doll Sculpture made with fabric and wire (grades 1 – 6)

·        African Mask with beans for texture and variety of lines (grades 2- 6)

·        Papier-mâché Tray with African designs (grades 5 and 6)

·        African Doll and mask  (clay mask; fabric doll done by batik methods) (grade 6)

























Making an effort to increase student learning by integrating  music will help children gain meaningful context to their lives.