Ojibwe Drums: The Significance and Purpose of Drumming in Ojibwe Cultures

Students will be introduced to the significance of the drum in Ojibwe culture. They will hear and sing songs, and create a decorative drum after learning about Ojibwe floral motifs.Drums are an often contested subject in Native communities. Many believe that drums do not belong in a classroom context at all. This lesson was done with local elder consent and additional Native support in co-teaching, presenting and playing the drums with the class.Before committing to any lesson plan idea, please be sure to research the literature, resources and any classroom materials you intend to use for accuracy and appropriateness. There is great diversity in Native communities and we cannot stress enough the importance of educating yourself, as well as connecting with elders and culturalists in your region for guidance and assistance in curriculum development.

Materials Needed


Art Materials

Activity Process


Listen to Lyz Jaakola's music featuring hand drums and her wide collection of drumming songs that are age-appropriate.


Students will see pictures of the variety of drums that exist in the Ojibwe culture and the traditional uses of each type; celebration, ceremonial, spiritual. (hand drums, water drums)


  1. Students were able to hear Lyz Jaakola drum in person and show us her drums. But it would also work to have students listen to Lyz Jaakola's drumming music and watch videos of Ojibwe hand and pow wow drumming.
  2. Karen Savage-Blue's artwork is showcased to share images of Ojibwe floral art. She has a variety of examples that show students the techniques and colors involved in the floral pattern. Karen also has painted numerous drums with floral motifs.
  3. Students will replicate hand drum motifs onto a small circular cardboard box. Many believe that authentic drum-making and decorating is not culturally appropriate for children and women. So the students will learn about drumming and then illustrate their knowledge with marker or paint while designing Ojibwe floral motifs onto their demo drums.
  4. Students can also make a drum stick out of the dowel, fabric and cotton ball. These drums are for display purposes and not for actual drumming.


Upon completion of the lesson, the class sings Ojibwe songs to hand drum music. Students are also given the opportunity to use real examples of hand drums created by community members.See the other Drum making lesson in this resource guide for additional information.


Students were assessed based on completion of their decorative drums and participation with the guest speakers.

Vocabulary Words


The students enjoyed the speakers. They were also very excited to make and take home the drums. They look forward to activities where they are able to participate with the hand drums.

Grade Levels

Primary Content Area

American Indian Learner Outcomes

Content Standards


Language Arts