You are currently viewing CONNECTING CULTURES IN THE MUSIC ROOM #2 Making the Music Relevant


So you have your map, some recorded music and some YouTube videos. How can you help students relate to the music? It’d be wonderful if we could get some authentic food, people and “live” experiences, but that’s probably not realistic for any of us. So this week I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve accumulated or done over the years to make the multi-cultural experience more relevant for my students.

I had the opportunity to live in Japan for six years as a young mother. When I first arrived I did have a bit of culture shock. Everything was different! The food, the people, the cars, the stores, the weather…even the toilets. So I know first had how difficult it is for us to give our students a real taste of another culture.
I’m so lucky that we have an amazing artist for our PTSO president. She made this lovely stage backdrop to use for the whole school year.

This is how my stage looked as I prepared for a Second Grade Program
 “Making Friends Around the World”
I made the flags using white poster board and paint. A group of sixth graders helped me make them a long time ago and I had them laminated. So glad I did that! I use them all the time and they have stayed so nice and fresh.

I’ve made lot’s of different props throughout the years, but these have been the most popular ones. We were singing a song from Polynesia “Kapulu Kane” and I wanted some poi sticks. We used the cardboard tubes from the rizzo(duplicator) machines. I then purchased some green and yellow plastic tablecloths from the dollar store. I folded them into strips about a foot wide and then cut them into smaller strips to make fringe. I then attached the fringed plastic to the ends of the tubes using packing tape.

The previous teacher had a wonderful selection of instruments from around the world. It’s nice to use the internet or graphics to teach about them-but it’s even more fun to have some in your room. I have a guitar and a ukulele and then I’ve tried to acquire various other ethnic instruments. Mostly they  come from Africa. 
Gankogui and Frog Wood Block
If you don’t have the funds for the “real” thing, then you can have your students make some.
I’ve collected things from my travels and from parents to use in my classroom.

This is a fun Chinese Dog puppet one of my sons brought me after his trip to China.

We’ve got some grass skirts and some leis.

Rainsticks from the zoo.

 Remo Drums.

You can use all kinds of recycled materials to make instruments from and it makes a fun project for the students.

I added in the around the world decor this year. I do so much multi-cultural music and love to teach the kids about other countries, that I decided to make a whole bundle of music room decor using this theme.

While not fancy, it does the trick. The students love to stop and figure out how to say “hello” in a different language.  The smaller graphics are placed about the rest of the bulletin board. 

Another fun thing that I did recently was to visit an international market. My husband and I had a fun time “visiting” the different aisles and trying to figure out the food names. There’s noodles from the Philippines, Cookies from South Africa and Avocado Ice Cream from ?
There’s frozen buns with sweet pork, and a favorite of my kids from living in Japan are the little Koala bear chocolate filled sugar cookie. The brooms are from the Philippines. 

I hope you find some fun ways to bring a multi-cultural mood into your classroom. 

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