Beat by Beat

K, 1, 2

Students make drums using different recyclable containers and colorful craft supplies. They write a class story to retell the story of "The Drum." Each student colors a printout of the story to share with a younger child. They decide with whom (for example, a local Head Start preschool) they will share their talent of reading the story and giving away their homemade drum.

PrintFour 30-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • retell the story of "The Drum" to write a class story.
  • illustrate the story to make a gift for someone.
  • make a homemade drum from recycled materials.
  • practice drumming a given rhythm.
  • practice reading the class book.
  • prepare for the service-learning project.
  • chart paper or computer for writing class story
  • printout of class story for each student to illustrate
  • Recyclable materials (e.g., oatmeal containers, shoe boxes, large yogurt and cottage cheese containers, etc.)
  • rubber bands to secure drum tops
  • different items that can be stretched across the top to make a drum top (e.g., balloons, plastic, lids)
  • colorful ribbons, stickers, paint for decorations
  • dowels and beads for drum sticks
  • glue
  • beans, small stones, keys, shells, feathers, sequins, etc. for decorations
Teacher Preparation 

This lesson involves preparing books and drums to share with a local preschool or other institution. Before discussing field trip options with the class, contact some local preschools, daycare facilities, Head Start programs, or retirement facilities. Find out information about their needs and interests. When you discuss the service project with the students, you can communicate available opportunities for sharing their time, talent, and treasure with someone who would appreciate their gifts. Then you can incorporate your students' interests with the needs of a local institution. Listen to student voice to increase the impact of the service-learning experience.

Home Connection 

Ask students to collect a variety of recycled containers and craft supplies. Examples include empty yogurt or cottage cheese containers, tissue boxes, oatmeal cylinders, tin cans, and cardboard boxes of all different sizes. For decorating, collect scraps of interesting wallpaper and wrapping paper, sequins, stickers, buttons, feathers, yarn and ribbon, beads, foam shapes, and other found objects.


Rhythm Web, "Tube Drums." This is a good site to research about making drums before you start.


  1. Day One

    Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students to find their heartbeat by placing their hands over their hearts or on a pulse spot (neck or wrist).Ask one student to tap out on his or her desktop the beat of his or her heart. Then ask two or three others to pick up that person's heartbeat. Then see if everyone together can make that same beat.

  2. Allow time for discussion on the sounds of a heartbeat. Why is it a steady beat? What makes a heart beat faster or slower? (for example, running, jumping jacks, walking to lunch, or listening to a story, quiet music, etc.)

  3. Reread the story of "The Drum." Have students tell what the heartbeat of the little boy would be like on his way home from the wedding party. Would it be loud, quick,and excited or slow and quiet?

  4. Remind the learners that they have gifts (time, talent,and treasure) to share. Tell them they have a story to tell others about giving generously--"The Drum." Tell them that they are going to do a service project in which they write a class book retelling the story of" The Drum" and share the story with younger children and give them a homemade drum as a gift. Guide them to make some of the decisions about the service project--ideas about preschools where they can share their gifts, how to make the drums, etc.

  5. For homework, have the students bring to school drum-making supplies, such as empty recyclable containers and colorful craft supplies.

  6. Day Two

  7. Set up chart paper or project the computer screen on the display board for writing a story together. The students work together to provide the language for a class retelling of the story of "The Drum." Encourage them to use their own words and dialogue to make the story fun and interesting. Revise and edit it together to keep it short and interesting for a young audience.

  8. Display the drum-making supplies so students can access them and each make a drum that will be given as a gift. Show examples of some of the different types of drums they may make using the available supplies.

  9. Review the names of the geometric shapes that make up the drum materials (square, rectangle, cube, cylinder, etc.).

  10. Have students start making their drums. It may take more than one class period.

  11. Day Three

  12. Teacher Note: Before this class period, print out a copy of the class-written story for each student. They will create covers and illustrate the pages. Make contact with the preschool or other group where the students will be sharing their talents. Ask the organizer of the location about their needs and the number of children in their class. Arrange the details of the visit.

  13. Give each student a copy of the story they wrote together. Practice reading the story aloud together.

  14. Give the students time to finish their drums and illustrate their stories. It may take more than one class period. Give them opportunities to practice reading aloud their story to a partner.

  15. Day Four

  16. When the drums and stories are finished, gather all students in a circle.

  17. Again, ask one student to "drum" his or her heartbeat in a steady rhythm on his or her new drum. Then allow two or three others to join in with their drums. As you add more drummers, make sure they are still with the beat. Stop if necessary to start a stronger beat. (Have the initial drummer stand so everyone can see him/her easily.)

  18. Prepare and practice a drumming presentation to perform for the younger children they share their stories and drums with.

Cross Curriculum 

The learners share their talents with another group, such as a Head Start preschool, who would benefit from literacy experience or social interaction. They write a class story (a retelling of "The Drum") and make drums. Each student shares his or her reading talent with an individual from the other group and gives the completed book and drum as a gift.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      3. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.