B is for banjo.


Micah colored the B is for Banjo page while Max colored it and labelled the parts with a little help from Cold Antler Farm.

We talked about banjos and listened to some banjo music as we colored and painted. You can listen to the music with us by downloading the mp3s below or using the audio function.

BANJO DREAM – The Carolina Chocolate Drops

MAR RANO – Bela Fleck


I wanted to hear this NPR program on the roots of the banjo “reconsidered” so I figured this was a great time to listen to it as we colored and crafted.


Since Max and Micah have already watched Throw Down My Heart a number of times, we talked about what we learned about the banjo from this film. Micah requested a refresher, so we watched Bela and his Tanzanian friends in an abridged version. We also watched a clip from the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys rocking out their banjos in their bedroom. This inspired Max to jump around and make his own plan for a banjo band….

Then, Max read aloud to us from this groovy Sheesham and Lotus brochure on old timey instruments and music. Putting the banjo in the local context of old timey music is helpful for us, since there is an abundant and throbbing love for this genre in Alabama.


Inspired by Little Elephants’ paper plate banjos, we created our own banjos using what we could find.

I always like to begin with a ton of possibile supplies and then narrow down as we go, depending on how much (or how little) the munchkins want to do. Supplies included:

  • Nonbreakable kids plates
  • Stickers
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint stirring sticks (free at hardware stores)
  • Cotton puff balls
  • Masking tape
  • Regular glue
  • Scrap fabric
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard

We started by decorating our nonbreakable (formica?) cheapo plates. The kids attached stickers to the head of the banjo and then created a border along the rim of their banjos using scrap fabric and glue. Max was so proud that he found a sticker for Gertie and then he decided that he wanted to serenade Gertie with his banjo. So the craft took on a goatish element.

Next we wrapped three rubber bands around one plate. We cut and decorated pieces of cardboard to use as makeshift tuning keys or pegs, added them with glue, and reinforced with masking tape.

    I love how Max managed to find a “Girls Rule” sticker for his Gertie-inspired banjo.

    “Gertie loves it. Look mom, she stood on her hind legs…”

“Gertie, oh Gertie, I love you Gertieeeee….. Oh Gertieeee…”

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