Make a Drum Beater
For Pow-wow Drum or for the Lenape Hoop Game

What is a Drum Beater?

The pow-wow drum; is a drum struck by a mallet or beater. Traditional beaters are generally made from wood and have a leather or covered “head” which is the part that strikes the drum. Although they can be simple, many are very ornate, covered with beads, fur or special handwork.

Materials Needed

You can easily make your own beater from wooden dowels – anywhere between 8 and 14 inches long. Wrap one end with electrical tape thus creating the “head” of the beater. Decorate the beater with sharpie pens or with yarn and feathers, if you like. Each beater is supposed to reflect something about it’s owner so you may wish to include a favorite color, a unique pattern or some other design aspect that is special to you.

The Instrument Reflects Its Maker

It is said that an accomplished drummer will always come to the drum with a beautiful and well kept beater reflecting respect for the drum and the music. Students or young drummers can practice the same idea by taking care in creating their own beater and by storing it with respect.

The Lenape Hoop Game

Children of the Lenape (or Leni Lenape, meaning “true people”) loved to play something called the hoop game. This is a great game because it is played in pairs and each child must learn to help the other to do their best, thus teaching the idea of “cooperate to succeed”.

In this simple game of skill, a hoop (probably made from grape vines) was rolled across a field or open area by one child. Another child would toss a stick or arrow and attempt to make it through the hoop as it rolled. It looks easy but definitely takes some practice to master.

A Hoop Game in the Backyard or Playground

To play this game in the driveway, backyard or playground you can easily substitute hula hoops for the traditional ones. Instead of sticks or arrows, I recommend soft balls, bean bags or drum beaters (as described above). These are safer choices but don’t change the character of the game.

Children can team up in pairs. One person rolls the hoop and the other takes a number of turns. Then switch and allow the other player to roll the hoop. You can score in the following way – 1 out of 5, 3 out of 10, etc. After practicing the game for awhile, you can begin scoring, if you like. It’s amazing how quickly teams grasp the idea that they must connect and communicate well to succeed at this game.

A Variation For Younger Children

There is a variation of this game where the hoop is attached to a tall tree. Instead of one player rolling, the one partner stands at the side and allows the hoop to swing back and forth giving the other partner a chance to throw. On a playground, the hula hoop can be attached to a branch or to a basketball hoop and young children can stand nearby to toss.

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