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African Arts and Music
Goals Get Started Learning Activities Extensions
Getting Started Activity Menu

Introductory Activity One: Scavenger Hunting
Introductory Activity Two: What Does Africa Look Like?

Introductory Activity Three: Picture Books

Learning Activity One: A Musical & Artistic Experience
Learning Activity Two: An Imaginary Diary

Learning Activity Three: Thumb Pianos & Djembe Drums

Learning Activity Four: African Masks & Carvings

Learning Activity Five: Kente Cloth
Learning Activity Six: A Dramatic Tale

Learning Activity Five: Kente Cloth

    1. Divide the class into three research groups. Each group will be responsible for learning a different aspect of kente cloth. After they have gathered their assigned information, they will be expected to teach the rest of the class. Each group will be asked to read a different section of the following Web site at:
      Group One: Historical Background
      Question: What is the historical and legendary background of Kente?
      Group Two: Materials and Techniques
      Question: How is kente made?
      Group Three: Aesthetics and Usages
      Question: What does kente represent? What is it used for?
    2. Share the following excerpt from the Web site which explains the different symbolic meanings of the colors used in kente. Have each student choose his or her own color for the kente placemat creation activity that follows.
      YELLOW in all its variations is associated with the yoke of the egg, ripe and edible fruits and vegetables and also with the mineral gold. In some spiritual purification rituals mashed yarn is rendered yellow with oil palm and served with eggs. It symbolizes sanctity, preciousness, royalty, wealth, spirituality, vitality and fertility.

      PINK is associated with the female essence of life. It is viewed as red rendered mild and gentle, and therefore associated with tenderness, calmness, pleasantness, and sweetness. According to Akan social thought, these attributes are generally considered as essential aspects of the female essence.

      RED is associated with blood, sacrificial rites and the shedding of blood. Red-eyed mood means a sense of seriousness, readiness for a serious spiritual or political encounter. Red is therefore used as a symbol of heightened spiritual and political mood, sacrifice and struggle.

      BLUE is associated with the blue sky, the abode of the Supreme Creator. It is therefore used in a variety of ways to symbolize spiritual sanctity, good fortune, peacefulness, harmony and love related ideas.

      GREEN is associated with vegetation, planting, harvesting and herbal medicine. Tender green leaves are usually used to sprinkle water during purification rituals. It symbolizes growth, vitality, fertility, prosperity, fruitfulness, abundant health and spiritual rejuvenation.

      PURPLE is viewed in the same way as maroon. It is considered as earth associated with color used in rituals and healing purposes. It is also associated color used in rituals and healing purposes. It is also associated with feminine aspects of life. Purple cloths are mostly worn by females.

      MAROON has a close resemblance to red-brown which is associated with the color of Mother Earth. Red-brown is usually obtained from clay and is therefore associated with healing and the power to repel malevolent spirits

      WHITE derives its symbolism from the white part of the egg and from white clay used in spiritual purification, healing, sanctification rites and festive occasions. In some situations it symbolizes contact with ancestral spirits, deities and other unknown spiritual entities such as ghosts. It is used in combination with black, green or yellow to express spirituality, vitality and balance.

      GREY derives its symbolism from ash. Ash is used for healing and spiritual cleansing rituals to re-create spiritual balance when spiritual blemish has occurred. It is also used in rituals for protection against malevolent spirits. Grey is therefore associated with spiritual blemish but also with spiritual cleansing.

      SILVER is associated with the moon which represents the female essence of life. Silver ornaments are usually worn by women and are used in the context of spiritual purification, naming ceremonies, marriage ceremonies and other community festivals. It symbolizes serenity, purity and joy.

      GOLD derives its significance from the commercial value and social prestige associated with the precious mineral. Gold dust and gold nuggets were used as medium of exchange and for making valuable royal ornaments. It symbolizes royalty, wealth, elegance, high status, supreme quality, glory and spiritual purity.

      BLACK derives its significance from the notion that new things get darker as they mature; and physical aging comes with spiritual maturity. The Akans blacken most of their ritual objects to increase their spiritual potency. Black symbolizes an intensified spiritual energy, communion with the ancestral spirits, antiquity, spiritual maturity and spiritual potency.
    Visit the following Web site and choose one of the activities listed (paper weaving, making a loom and cotton spinning):
    http://www.african /educ/ index.htm

    3. Display students' projects.

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Learning Activity Six: A Dramatic Tale

In this activity, students will listen to a folktale, create a script based on the tale, make costumes, create a set, and choose music to enhance the production. They will then enact a performance.
    1. As a class, choose one of these folk tales as the basis for your production. 2. Work as a class to write a script. Include the varied elements that students have learned throughout the lesson in the production. Try to use as much dialogue as possible.

    3. Discuss the varied parts of a dramatic production. Ask the students to choose a group that they would like to work in. The groups should consist of set builders, costume designers, music and lighting effects, and performers.
      Set Builders: This group should draw out their plans on paper prior to building. Give the students access to appropriate building materials, such as heavy cardboard, construction paper, glue and staples. The set should reflect the colors and images of Africa based on what students have learned.

      Costume Designers: These students should be responsible for researching the dress customs throughout Africa before they design and create costumes. Visit the following sites for inspiration: Music & Lighting: This group should draw upon the resources of the lesson which included listening to selections of African music and reading books that describe different aspects of African culture, as they create musical and lighting effects to enhance the mood of the performance.

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