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I am always looking for books to incorporate into my elementary music classes. I found Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle by accident one day– I think that it was on display in our library. As soon as I picked it up, I knew it was a gem. Since then, I’ve used it many different times. Because I’ve done it different ways, I have quite a few Drum Dream Girl music lesson ideas– and now I’m sharing them with you!
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PS If you’re looking for more activities, I have a printable lesson pack for the book Drum Dream Girl in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. It includes information about Millo, activities like composing and writing about dreams, and more. It’s especially great if you have a sub– it’s not made for subs, but it’s easy enough for non-musical subs!
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The most obvious of the Drum Dream Girl music lessons is to play the drums. But why just play the drums when you can do a drum circle?!
Drum circles are so much fun. In their most basic concept, it’s a circle where everyone is playing different percussion instruments. I like to have students switch seats every minute or two so that they get the chance to play a lot of different things.
You can do many things in a drum circle like…
- Echoing patterns: This is a great place to start– just have the students echo patterns back to you!
- Call and response improvisation: Play 4 or 8 beats on whatever instrument you have (I usually use a cowbell because it’s loud enough to hear over everything else), and then have the kids respond with 4 or 8 beats of improvisation. The kids love this, because they get to pick what they play, and it builds important skills such as listening, improvisation, counting beats (so you know when to play!), and more.
- Body conducting: Have the students play every time that you take a step. Switch between walking quickly and walking slowly. You can even add that if your hands get big, they should play loud, and if you scrunch down, they should play softly. Then let the kids try “conducting”!
- Play along: I like to have at least one of the songs we’ve done in my back pocket that we can play along with in order to switch it up.
- Ostinati: With older kids, you can have the different types of percussion play different ostinati. So give the big drums one pattern to play, the small drums a different one, the shakers something else, etc. Layer them, so that one group starts and then you add the rest into the mix.
- Rhythms: It’s not at all authentic, but you can take this opportunity to practice reading rhythms with your students!
Learn about percussion
The natural extension to Drum Dream Girl is to play drums, but I also like to take this chance to talk about percussion instruments!
Percussion instruments include anything that you hit, scrape, or shake. After I introduce this concept, I will show pictures or show instruments and ask if they are percussion or not. Some will be, and others will be things like recorders or trombones, which are not.
We use one of the printable activity sheets from my lesson pack to talk about the names of different drums. I have the kids match the drum with the name.
Then we do an instrument sort! I will have a whole bunch of instruments in a row in the front. We will use them to play patterns (or our drum circle). Then, students will take turns coming to the front (or sometimes we do this after we are done playing them), and sorting them by hit, scrape, or shake.
Drum Dream Girl Drum along
I came across this read aloud on Youtube from Music with Mrs. P, and I love the chant that she uses for this book!
Throughout the book, she chants and plays the drum in the following pattern:
Toca el tambor, chica de los suenos
That means, “play the drum, dream girl.”
It’s simple, can be repeated throughout the book, and it gives the kids the chance to play instruments.
Write your own rhythms
Millo hears music wherever she goes, so let’s see what music we could make up!
After playing rhythms, have the students practice playing and writing rhythms.
I have the kiddos do this in our Drum Dream Girl printable activities pack. It has enough spaces for the younger students to write rhythms. After they come up with some rhythms, then you can have the students play each other’s rhythms!
This could also be done in centers– students write rhythms and then play each others’ rhythms. If you have them do this with instruments, make sure you pick resilient instruments since you won’t be able to stand over the students as they work.
It’s a fact– kids need to move. So this Drum Dream Girl music lesson includes dancing!
Salsa is so much fun– your kids will love it.
Here’s the video we use to learn the dance! (Start at 3:17)
Write our dreams
And for our last drum Dream Girl music lesson, have the students write and illustrate THEIR dreams. What is something that they dream about? What do they want to be when they grow up? What are some ways that they could make the world better?
There are differentiated templates for this activity in the Drum Dream Girl printable lesson pack. That means that you can use them with a variety of grades.
The best part? These are perfect for hanging up on the bulletin board! Just add a background, a title, and then staple these pages up.
That’s my kind of bulletin board– easy.
So there are a few Drum Dream Girl music lessons! Which is your favorite? Is there something else that you like to do with this book? Let me know over on instagram, @beccasmusicroom
And if you use any of these, tag me on Instagram! I’d love to see them.