These drums are the perfect way to celebrate and learn about African heritage. We based these drums on the Djembe drums from West Africa. Djembe drums originated during the reign of the Malian empire in the 12th century. These drums were traditionally made by blacksmiths and played by well-respected musicians known as griots. They play an important part in storytelling and the passing down of the oral history of west Africa. The base is made from a single piece of wood and the drum top is made from animal skin. It is tuned using ropes and is played with hands rather than drumsticks.
We used foam cups and coffee filters in order to make our drums cost-effective and easy for younger children to assemble. We used the Djembe as our inspiration but were not strict in making sure that the drum looked authentic. This kept the kids more engaged and allowed them to show their own creativity! We had a blast making these and hope you will as well.
Supplies(Clicking on each item will open a new amazon tab with our affiliate link. This means we will earn a small percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you.)
Making the drum top
1. Use the washable markers to decorate the coffee filters. In order to make the drum top look like animal skin, I used various shades of brown and maroon, but feel free to get creative here. Note: make sure to use washable markers, not Sharpies. Sharpies and other permanent markers will not bleed as well and won’t have the same effect.
2. Fold the colored coffee filter in half three times. It should look like a triangle when you are done.
3. Dip the coffee filter into a glass of water. Pull out and use your fingers to squeeze out the excess water. This will cause the colors to run together and create a tie-dye effect.
4. Unfold and dry. There are several methods you can use to dry these based on what you have available and your time frame:
- Oven: Set your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Lie flat on a baking sheet and let dry in the oven. This should take about 5 minutes. (We used this method)
- If an oven is not available, a hairdryer can be used. Lie flat and use the low setting.
- If you are going to make the tops and assemble the drums on different days, you can lay them on a flat surface and let them air dry.
5. Once dry, your tops are ready, and you can move on to assembling and decorating your drums!
Assembling the Drum
1. Using the hot glue gun or craft glue, glue the bottoms of 2 foam cups together.
2. Use the acrylic paints to paint your drum.
3. Once the paint has dried, use the hot glue or the craft glue to secure the drum top to the drum. We put glue all around the rim of the cup, pressed the top on the glue, and held for several seconds, then released and allowed the glue to dry before proceeding to the next step.
4. Use your twine, beads, feathers, etc to decorate your drum. Have fun and get creative!
5. Djembe drums are traditionally played with your hands, but we had some extra supplies, so we decided to make some drumsticks. For these, we glued larger pom-poms onto the sharp ends of bamboo skewers using our hot glue gun. Your drum is now complete and ready to be played or displayed!
1. The Djembe. (n.d.). Retrieved October 04, 2020, from http://www.drumafrica.co.uk/articles/the-djembe/