Here at world song schools, our Brazilian adventure is coming to an end. Tchau, Brasil! But the good news is that our Jamaican journey is just about to begin!
To get in the Jamaican mood, we’ve compiled a list of Jamaican-inspired activities you can do with your kids at home. From crafts to reggae music for kids, your kids, or pickney in Jamaican Patois, are sure to have some fun. Give a couple of these a go at home!
Paper plate sea turtles:
Sea turtles used to be abundant in Jamaica’s waters, but overexploitation, primarily between the 1600s to 1800s, decimated their numbers. They continue to be impacted by residential and tourism development, destruction of the marine environment, and overexploitation. Only the Hawksbill turtle now nests in Jamaica with some regularity but the species is critically endangered.
Making sea turtles might be a good lesson not only about Jamaica but also about conservation!
Children as young as two years old can make these paper plate turtles. You need one paper plate per turtle, green construction paper, green paint, a paintbrush, scissors, glue, and a black marker. The child can paint the paper plate green. While he or she is doing this, you can cut four turtle flippers and a tail from the green construction paper. After the paint dries, your child can glue the flippers and tail to the plate. Then, he can use the marker to draw eyes (and whatever else he’d like!) on the turtle.
Madras is a lightweight cotton fabric with a plaid design; bandanas are typically made with a red (or maroon) and white plaid madras.
Red and white bandanas are commonly associated with Jamaica festival celebrations. In Jamaica, you see this fabric in the form of dresses, head ties, and shirts. Your kids don’t need to make a whole dress or shirt, but they can make a bandana belt in honor of typical Jamaican folk costumes.
You’ll need a few red bandanas, scissors, pinking shears, glue and fabric paint, and yellow, green, and black beads. First, tie or glue two or three bandanas together until the entire length is long enough to tie around your child’s waist, plus some extra fabric on each end. To create fringe, cut strips on each end of the belt. Then thread plastic beads onto each strip and tie the end into a knot so the bead is secure. If they want, kids can decorate the fabric with fabric paint. Then voilá! The bandana belt is finished!
Reggae for kids
For some less structured fun, pop on some great reggae songs and albums for kids.
Ziggy Marley’s “Family Time” was made especially for children and families. It has child-friendly lyrics, themes of love and family, and uplifting sounds, as well as guest singers including Paul Simon, Jack Johnson, and more.
Putumayo, who make wonderful global music compilations for children and adults, have a great reggae album for kids called “Reggae Playground.” It features reggae both from Jamaica and various countries around the world.
The Montessori Music Lab, which provides music based educational materials also produces a Jamaican Heritage Songbook and CD which includes ethnic music selections from Jamaica.