Archive for the 'World Music' Category

Learning about African & Native American culture through music and art

This guest post is by Amy Muegge, music teacher, and Janice Wooten, art teacher, of Lincoln Elementary in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Their students are learning African drumming and creating Native American-inspired cultural artworks in preparation for a Building Bridges Multicultural Festival for families in March, funded by a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream Grant.

Lincoln drums

Three days before the beginning of winter break, the World Music Drumming set that we ordered with Sharing the Dream Grant funds arrived. One of the 5th grade classes helped carry the boxes down to the Music Room when the UPS driver dropped them off. The students were so excited that we had to open the boxes immediately. They only had time to play one rhythm pattern, but as they walked out the door they couldn’t stop smiling. All of our 2nd-5th grade students had the opportunity to try out the new instruments before school let out for the holidays.

Since coming back, the 3rd-5th graders have been studying the African continent and have been practicing West African drumming. In our drum circle, the students are learning about the tradition of listening and working together by having mutual respect for all members of the circle.

lincoln buffalo hide art

In our art classes, students are studying the social aspect of art and history of Native Americans. The children first started out learning about Native American history in the 1800’s and how all the social turmoil continues to be felt in the modern world.

After gaining knowledge of historical events, they created a reproduction of a buffalo hide storytelling piece of artwork. The artwork represents tribal stories of the plains. Pictures often expressed stories of historical events and people of the tribe were honored with images of animals, plants and other environmental symbols.

A Celebration of Balinese Music & Culture

Stetser 1

Fourth graders at Stetser Elementary in Chester, PA, learned about Balinese music and culture–and marine ecosystems–and shared what they learned in a traditional musical ensemble called a Gamelan for families and other children at the school.

The students, under the direction of teacher, Nancy Peltier, and Dr. Tom Whitman and students from Swarthmore College, started their performance with a Kecak, a traditional chant and dance from Bali inspired by the waters surrounding the island nation.

stetser 3

The children used Balinese instruments such as the jegogan, gong, ketuck and gangsa to perform a selection of traditional songs along with their own original compositions, and read haiku poems about marine life that they had written.

The performance ended with a shadow puppet show featuring marine animals, and the arrival of the Barong, a spiritual character from Bali that brings good luck.

stetser 2

With the support of a Sharing the Dream grant, Stetser Elementary made contact with a school in Bali, so that students could interact with children there and learn more about Balinese culture and marine animals in that part of the world.

Fourth graders weren’t the only ones meeting new friends in other countries. Second graders, who have been studying gardening practices around the world, wrote and illustrated a book about fruits and vegetables that they shared with children attending the Henri Christophe Community School in Haiti.

Stetser 4

Read more about Stetser Elementary’s Exploring Our Global Community Sharing the Dream project in “Stetser Kids Bring History to Life in Emancipation Celebration,” posted March 18, 2013.

Whitney Young Jr. Elementary’s World Cultural Diversity Day Fosters International-mindedness

Whitney Young dancing

This guest post is by Cabrina Bosco, Primary Years Programme Coordinator at Whitney Young Jr. Elementary in Louisville, Kentucky.

“You didn’t put it up right! It is upside down! Why is it like that?” students exclaimed when they looked at the giant world map posted on the wall.

The map, from WiseGuyMaps, was right side up but had a different perspective of the world with south oriented toward the top. One of the goals of hosting an International Potluck on World Cultural Diversity Day on May 21st at Whitney Young Jr. Elementary was to remind us that there are many ways to look at the world and to rethink our presumptions about who we are and where we all come from.

Whitney Young Jr. Elementary is a magnet school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP). It is an urban, Title I public school that serves a population of ethnically and linguistically diverse learners from across the wide school district of Jefferson County.  As an IB World School, we strive to foster international-mindedness in our community by acknowledging and celebrating commonalities and differences. This also goes hand-in-hand with the district’s cultural competence initiative to encourage awareness and relationship-building between staff and the families we serve.

This project made possible by NAESP and MetLife Foundation’s Sharing the Dream grant program was realized through the efforts of the school’s School Culture and IB Design Committees who collaborated to plan the event and make certain both in-school and community-based groups took part.

The committees considered the transportation issues of many of our families. Many children do not get home until after 5 p.m., so instead of having them trek back to school at 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. (which would have also meant a late night for all involved), activities were planned to occur directly after dismissal. Over 90 students stayed with parental permission and rotated through various interactive sessions including three types of cultural dances, crafts and food.

Students were taught European and Latin dance steps by other students and visiting dancers. Teachers and parents led craft stations where children decorated Dia de los Muertos designs, made tissue paper flowers for table decorations, tasted escargot and made guacamole for the potluck.

“My favorite part was seeing how people from all the different countries dressed, how they danced and what they did for fun. I also liked the different types of food! I’m used to eating my mom’s food, but I liked trying different types of food to see how it tastes,” said 5th grader, Amanda Castro Diaz.

Between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m., families arrived to a colorful, decorated cafeteria for the International Potluck bringing with them tasty dishes reflecting a variety of cultures. To begin the evening, our principal, Mary Minyard,  addressed the families (with translation devices available) and brought awareness of the need to be appreciative, tolerant and accepting of cultural diversity.

“Tonight we are here to commemorate World Cultural Diversity Day,” Minyard said. “Young Elementary exemplifies cultural diversity. It is one of our strengths. Students at Young strive to exhibit the IB learner profile, which includes being communicators, open-minded and risk-takers.”

During the event, participants were encouraged to visit and talk with community groups at informational tables, look at cultural displays about various countries made by students, and to decorate a fabric square to be assembled into a Community Quilt.

All in all, based on the attendance of more than 220 participants and their responses, the event was a huge success. The Young Elementary community embraced its diversity and united in a celebration of the richness of its cultures.

Lyndale School Students Explore Arabic Culture

This guest post is by Rita Farah, Arabic teacher and project coordinator of the Arabic Project at Lyndale Community School in Minneapolis, MN.


I’d always dreamed of starting an Arabic project in my school and introducing the Arabic culture to my students in its different aspects, so I was super excited when I heard that we won a Sharing the Dream grant to get underway.

The first project I organized was an Arabic Showcase that was held November 30, 2012. I have 64 students, and each of them were involved in presenting five different Arabic countries to all the students at Lyndale Community School as well as to parents and staff who came and watched the showcase.

At the showcase, students sang a song all in Arabic and encouraged the audience to sing and clap along. After that, the students spoke to each other in Arabic to demonstrate their knowledge of the language. Audience members were amazed at how well my students knew Arabic, and how much they must have practiced to greet each other so confidently. Next, 28 students came on stage to sing the Arabic alphabet letter song holding the letters in their hands.

The showcase focused on five major Arabic countries–Sudan, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia–but flags from all 22 Arab countries were displayed on stage. As students lifted each flag, and Arabic music played, other students dressed in traditional costumes came on stage, and a narrator introduced each country, its traditions and celebrations. The showcase was incredibly successful. Everyone really enjoyed the presentations.

On March 28, 2013 we had our International Night where students and families were invited to “roam” around the world by visiting booths featuring different countries. My booth focused on Arabic countries, and I had an Arabic calligrapher and a henna artist there.

Decorative writing–calligraphy–is one of the highest art forms of the Arab world and uses intricate designs, special ink and a unique brush. For two hours people waited in line to learn how to write in calligraphy, and to see their names written in Arabic.

Our henna artist did a great job. All the students and their parents were excited to have pretty henna flower and leaf designs on their hands. Also, Arabic drummers performed on stage and taught our families traditional Arabic dances and how to play the drums.

All those who came to International Night enjoyed visiting the Arabic booth, and expressed how happy they were in learning about other cultures, music, art and dance.

I believe the Arabic Project has increased the awareness of the Arabic language and culture among my students and their parents, as well as among other students, families and teachers at Lyndale School.

Global Resources for Schools: National Anthems

flags of nationsAre your students learning about different countries? For a fun, music-focused activity, have them research and listen to national anthems from around the world.

Ask students to:

  • Research the history of the anthem of their chosen country and create a poster of images that the music and/or words evoke
  • Compare and contrast the lyrics in a selection of national anthems. Do the songs share similar words or phrases? How are they different? What do the anthems express about national identity?
  • Come up with words or images that describe the student’s chosen nation and compose an original anthem (lyrics and a melody)
  • Discuss: Why do countries have anthems?


National Anthems Info

Includes 400 anthems with history, lyrics and recordings

National Anthem Forum

14000 posts on 1000s of national, state, & municipal anthems, past and present

National Anthems of the World

The shortest, longest, oldest and newest anthems


Global Resources for Schools is our twice-monthly feature highlighting international focused organizations, educational websites and resources to support educators in their efforts to create globally oriented schools.

Do you have a website, organization, resource or idea to share? Tell us about it in a comment.

Sharing the Dream

Grants for pre-K-8 school projects that create global classrooms where children—and families—can safely connect, exchange ideas and learn together.

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