Little Drummer Girl

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 18th, 2014 21 Replies

A few weeks ago, Amara spent the night with us and she noticed that I had four coffee cans sitting on the counter. I save them for scooping up lizards when Twiggy gets bored and leaves them in the front room. I put them back in the garden and then throw the can away. Twiggy hasn’t been hunting much lately so I had extra. Amara asked if she could have them. I knew I wasn’t going to say no to her but I did ask her why. She told me that her class was planning to do a project and make Taiko drums so her teacher was collecting them.

Back in November The PTA had sponsored a cultural performance by the TAIKOPROJECT. The Taiko drummers performed and taught the students about Japanese-American drumming. A few students were lucky enough to go on stage and get a chance to play the drums. Amara was one of the lucky ones. I had planned to go to that performance but somehow got it on my calendar for 1:15 when it was actually at 10:15 and I missed the whole thing. Someone got part of it on video so I got see that ear to ear grin of hers but there are other students in it that I don’t have permission to share. I do have permission to share the smiles below.

So, when Jenna & Justin came to pick her up Sunday morning I had all the coffee cans in a trash bag for easy delivery to the classroom the next day. When Amara and I explained what was happening Jenna suggested I email Amara’s teacher and see if I could come to class the day of the project and take pictures and video! The Segerstrom Center where the PTA gets many of its art programs has a scholarship program which offers the school the opportunity to receive discounts on future performances if they create a school or class project based on a previous performance. I had the email sent before they were out of the tract.

The best part of volunteering is that I get to be there in person to witness everything. This was no exception, I am so glad I got to go. Amara’s teacher showed them how to blow up their balloons to stretch them, cut off the mouth end, then stretch them over the coffee can and tape the drum skin in place. Not as easy as you might think! They worked in pairs and one table broke 8 balloons before they finally got it on! They used construction paper and markers for decorating their Taiko drums. The white board was covered in Japanese inspirations for them. There were lots of common words and their Japanese symbols that they could copy. There were also pictures of the recent tsunami, Japanese style paintings and the Japanese flag. Not only were they being creative they were learning a lot about the Japanese culture, too.

Taiko Project in Amara's Classroom with Jenna and the Girls

The noise level did get a bit crazy at times and of course if you put a camera in your hand 4th grade boys are going to try to photo bomb you so there was some silliness but they soon forgot the camera and settled down. The teamwork was wonderful to watch as it sometimes took 4 of them to stretch and tape the drum skin on. They traded markers, tapes, compliments and many smiles. Each drum was unique and beautiful. The hour absolutely flew by and as it drew to a close three girls were seen grinning and plotting in the corner.

“Will you go get us Subway for lunch and bring it back? Please! We will pay you back!”

That didn’t happen!

UPDATE: 2/20/2014 The school received their first scholarship credit of $350 for project turned in for Taiko Project

21 thoughts on “Little Drummer Girl

    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      She really has had some great teachers. I’m so glad I’ve been able to be involved in so much of what goes on!

      Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Exactly! One of the students took me to task because I hadn’t washed the coffee cans! Twiggy’s lizards don’t care – and I just never thought to do it!

      Reply
  1. Joyce

    I love Amara’s school and the creative PTA that brings in so much enrichment! Usually the cultural experience ends with the departure of the artists. This follow up activity expands it so nicely – the kids won’t forget the history behind these drums.
    And the best part is seeing Amara’s smile light up the room! She’s so proud and happy to have mom and grandma there!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      The PTA really does do an amazing job enhancing their education! This also tied back to the Asian Art they did back in October. It all builds their understanding. The best part IS getting to be there for it all – especially those grins!

      Reply
  2. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    Now THAT is a fantastic thing to do with all the coffee cans. Love the smiles on the faces of the happy drummers. You are one fortunate grandma… and those are LOTS of fortunate kids to have a grandma as you in their lives and such incredible support from a creative PTA.

    I had to smile about you scooping up lizards in your coffee cans. I save the cans, too, but I never ever considered scooping up a lizard in one. Too funny. (And I’m too glad I don’t have lizards in my yard. Snakes now and then, but no lizards.) :-D BUT… you just gave me a super idea for next visit to the desert. My grandsons DO have lizards in their yard. Hmmm… thank you!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I have a feeling that my lizards are a lot smaller than the lizards the boys have in their yard! Twiggy does bring them in to play and they get wise and play dead and she gets bored – and walks away and leaves them there to surprise me! I really do like watching them out on the fence and I would prefer they stay out there. Twiggy has been busy hunting a gopher recently (GO TWIGGY) so has left the lizards alone. They really are kind of cute!

      Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I feel like a very lucky Grandmother! I worked long hours when my daughter was growing up and didn’t get to do this stuff. Now I get to do it and share it with her! Three generations in the classroom is a lot of fun.

      Reply
  3. An Enchanted Cottage

    It looks like you all had SUCH a fun time!! Hopefully that makes up for not seeing the performance. I’m glad you’re enjoying the ‘pictures’ of our snow rather than the ACTUAL snow itself! I wish I was enjoying just pictures! haha
    Donna

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I am of the firm belief that any day without snow is a great day! TOOOOO many years in Michigan but I do love looking at yours. Sure hope your snow is almost done with.

      Reply
  4. Sandy

    I am so impressed with Amara’s teachers & the PTA. They have given the students some really great experiences. It’s wonderful that you can give your time as well, & join in on the fun! Great memories for you & Amara as well!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Amara has had wonderful teachers and especially for a public school her education has been outstanding! I am so lucky to be close by and to be able to be part of it. Of course THEE best part of it is that Jenna wants me involved with her! I am a lucky Mom and Grandma both – and a very lucky wife who has a husband who wants her to be part of all of it.

      Reply
  5. sarah christian

    Certainly a creative experience with great rewards! So glad you could be there to share it all. Now you have to drink some more coffee to get more empty containers for a place to put the lizards. Always enjoy your writing and your story telling skills are excellent! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      As you know, drinking coffee is something I am very good at! I already have one empty one, it won’t take long to stock up!

      Reply
  6. debra@ HOMESPUN

    FIRST I have not yet recovered from the thought of lizards running around in my living room waiting to be scooped up, LOL / That would take some getting used to! :)

    What a great story. THIS is the way to get kids interested in things…even adults…because anyone doing something like this would want to learn more about the Japanese culture, or any culture that they were focusing on via hands-on experience such as this. Contrast this with a teacher having every child read one paragraph out loud from the history book, going around the room, while he sort of dozed off up front…that was my 7th grade history teacher. I always thought history was boring due to him, until I got older.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      YOU have amazing squirrels – I have lizards! And I have Twiggy who unlike Kanga goes outside and likes to bring lizards back in the house to play with. She doesn’t kill them; she just plays with them until she gets bored or needs a nap, whichever comes first.

      I think history for us was all about dates, nothing but dates. We didn’t learn about the cultures of the times or the people – just dates! I do think they got a lot more out of this – and I got to help!

      Reply
  7. Launna

    I am so glad you commented on my blog Kc… it meant I was able to find yours… you make me smile with all your stories of Amara… ? She is such a doll and so are you… I wish my Valentina had a grandma like you ;-)

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I am glad you came by! I wish there was an organization like Big Brother and Big Sister for children who need Grandparents! Grandparents who have long distance Grandchildren could foster a local Grandchild and give them some support. Oh in a perfect world!

      Reply

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