The rattle-drum is a traditional Chinese toy that's often found at festivals. I've always found that one of the best ways to teach my kids about another culture is by doing a craft. This one is fun to make and opens the door to discussions about Chinese culture and Chinese New Year (coming up this year on January 31). Keep reading and I'll tell you how we made it.
Heavy cardboard (from a shipping box)
Lid (we used a sour cream container lid)
Red Construction paper
Gold paint pen or permanent marker
Large craft Stick
I used the plastic sour cream lid to trace three circles. We traced one on the cardboard and two on the red construction paper. Then we cut them out. The cardboard is hard to cut, so an adult may want to tackle that one.
While I was cutting the cardboard, Miss Preschool decided to decorate the red circles with the gold paint pen. We talked about a few Chinese designs she could draw and she opted to decorate her drum with gold coins. They were joined later with a few friendly dragon faces.
After I cut out the cardboard circle, I poked a hole in each side. We needed the holes to tie our beads to the drum. Meanwhile, Miss Preschool colored our beads with the gold pen.
Once our decorating was done, we glued a red circle to each side of the cardboard. Then we took the string and tied it through the two holes in the side. (Note: We found using a needle made this step much easier.) We then tied a bead to each string. You want the strings to be short enough that the beads will hit your large circle.
To finish off our drum, we glued a large craft stick to the back of our drum. We happened to have a red craft stick, but any color will do. I also added a dot of glue to each knot. Without the glue, we had problems with our knots coming untied while we played with the drum. Once we added the glue, our knots have stayed strong.
To play the drum, hold it by the stick and rotate your drum back and forth. The bead will swing up and hit your drum. Then, grab your sister (or brother, or friend) and go dancing through the house!
For more learning fun (click the orange phrases for the link):
- View a Chinese drum performance. I found the Jigu! Thunder Drums of China quite fascinating. Click here for the video.
- National Geographic Kids is always a great source for facts and pictures. Here you'll find plenty of facts, a slideshow, a map, and even a short video.
- If you're looking for some good books to read about China, No Time for Flashcards has a great round-up of books about China and Chinese New Year.
- There are many versions of this craft that you can do. I love the one at Gift of Curiosity. It's simple and perfect for younger children.