Upon our arrival, the kids were given an opportunity to play with a number of the musical instruments that Heather McNeil had brought in to share. Heather is one of the most dynamic storytellers at the library and we discovered that she has traveled to Kenya multiple times herself to collect stories and perfect her craft. We were delighted to spend the afternoon listening to her as learned more about Africa.
The instruments the boys are shown with here are called, shekere. The shekere is a handmade rattle consisting of a hollow gourd or calabash, covered on the outside with a net of seeds, beads, shells, or any available material. Although its origins are West African, today it is found in the Americas and Caribbean as well. Check out this website to learn more and to find instructions to build one for yourself, The Beaded Gourd.
The girls are modeling a kalimba or thumb piano. A kalimba is an African musical instrument, a type of plucked idiophone common throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, consisting of a wooden board to which staggered metal keys have been attached. You can play one here at PBS: AFRICA.
The program began with Heather sharing with us a wonderful oral telling of Who’s in Rabbit’s House (Masai Tale) by Verna Aardema. Her animation and voices had everyone – adults and children alike – enthralled. We then learned to count in Swahili and jumped to count out each number. She then read aloud Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa by Gerald McDermott.
Last summer, we spent several weeks inundating ourselves in the culture of Africa as a part of a Geography Co-op. You can read all about our activities on my Squidoo lens, Africa: A Homeschool Unit Study.