Out of Africa: Learning About African Drumming at the Zoo

We went to the zoo this weekend.  We had a four pack of passes left and we heard that they were having a themed day all about African dances and music.  We're always looking for ways to expose the boys to other cultures and this sounded pretty neat.

We had a great time seeing all the animals and seeing all the changes they had made since our last visit.

By far our favorite experience was the drumming circle/ class.

They had extra drums for audience members to participate and both Alec and Ian got a chance to try them out.  We learned the names of the different types of drums, what they were made out, how to make the various sounds, and what countries all the players were from.

Ian correctly guessed that one set of drums were made out of trees and cow hide while we learned the other drums used goat skin; two animals that are fairly abundant in the region.  We learned about rhythm, listening to one another, playing to a beat, how to harmonize, and so much more.

At one point we even learned to sing a few African songs and the singers translated the words into English for us so we knew what we were singing about.  We learned what types of occasions are celebrated and why.

It was a wonderful cultural lesson found right at the zoo!

Alec playing base 

Discussing the various drums 

He loved it! 

Ian joined in and all the kids played together 

The Final song 
Walking around the zoo we got to inspect the differences between a lion and a tiger skull and learn why they're different.  We also inspected a turtle shell up close, talked to a docent about prairie dogs (though she was amazed at all the facts the boys already knew), and sat through an animal presentation on reptiles.

We got to see the chameleon up close and watch the speed with which the fastest tortoise on the planet (that they know of) will walk; it's still pretty slow!  The sloths were moving up their tree slowly, slowly.  T

he cotton topped tamarins were making noises and we all remarked that they sound just like a balloon that is loosing it's air slowly while someone was pulling on the "neck" part of it; all squeaky and breathy.

Alec used my camera to take pictures of some animals; like these

And this tortoise 

We stopped to read a book about turtles 

Alec had a few questions about parrots and their feathers 

Learning about tiger & lion skulls 
Cotton topped tamarins 
Learning about the second skin alligators have over their eyes 
learning about the chameleon 
The boys learned that this snake had a bump in it's bone structure
where it's believed the leg joins used to be before they evolved to

The sloth was enjoying the warm sunshine


  1. Wow! What a great teaching-zoo! It looks like you had a super day :)

    1. They always have such wonderful programs and workers around answering questions.

  2. Sounds like so much fun. I would love drumming and doing drum demonstrations at a zoo sounds like an ideal job!! http://www.quirkybohemianmama.com/

    1. They all looked like they were having so much interacting and sharing with the audience.


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