Craft Your Own Band
Rhythm instruments appeal to kids who love to produce sounds. While store bought instruments can be exciting at first, the novelty and attention span wears off. By building musical instruments you offer kids fun, creative, hands-on experiences with materials, and encourage pride of ownership. So, let’s get started with a few of my favorite instruments to make.
Prescription Bottle Maraca
You will need:
- Empty prescription canister
- X-acto knife (adult only)
- Dried beans
- Heavy-duty glue
- Popsicle stick
- Markers or paint
- Stickers (optional)
- The teacher can cut a small slit into the lid of the prescription bottle. This should be large enough to insert a wooden Popsicle stick.
- Give children a wooden craft stick and allow them to either color or paint it the color of their choice. Leave this to dry.
- Provide dry beans and encourage the children to place a handful into the container. Ask them to count the beans as they drop them inside the bottle.
- Run a bead of glue inside the lid of the container before screwing or placing it back in place. This will keep the bottle lid on securely and avoid spilling the beans on the floor as the child shakes the maraca.
- Insert the painted Popsicle stick into the slit in the lid.
- Adhere colorful stickers as decorations.
Think about other materials to put inside the DIY maraca. Could you use rice? What sound would it make? Would it be louder or softer than the beans? How about small coins? Metal paper clips? Why not make several maracas using a variety of materials and compare the sounds?
Construct a Snare Drum
You will need:
- Metal cookie/candy tin
- Metal paper clips (about 20)
- Cardboard circle (cut slightly larger than the diameter of the tin)
- Thick packaging tape
- Adhesive stickers, including musical notes
- Drum sticks (unsharpened pencils or chopsticks)
- Remove the lid from an empty cookie tin.
- Decorate the outside with colorful adhesive stickers (or paint a solid color with acrylic paints). Paint the cardboard circle, too, if you wish.
- Have the kids turn the cookie tin upside down and spread paper clips evenly on the recessed bottom of the tin.
- Place the cardboard circle over the bottom (the cardboard should not touch the paper clips). Secure this circle to the bottom with thick tape, bringing the tape up the sides.
- The children can use drumsticks to tap this snare drum.
- Encourage the kids to think of other materials to use inside this drum besides paper clips to see what other sounds may be produced.
Sing this song as you play your drum—(tune: Row, Row, Row Your Boat)
Play it loud,
Play it soft,
Play it slow,
Play it fast,
Music is in the air!
Water Glass Music
You will need:
- 5 clear glasses (all the same size)
- Food Coloring (optional)
- Numbered cards from 1-5
- Metal spoon
- Create a crystal concert using several glasses, water and food coloring.
- Fill the glasses with different levels of water to make different sounds.
- Follow the chart below. The more water you put into the glass, the lower the tone.
- Tap out familiar songs with a spoon, or have your students compose their own tunes.
1 inch in glass 1
2 inches in glass 2
3 inches in glass 3
4 inches in glass 4
5 inches in glass 5
Play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” following this pattern:
Use these ideas while building musical instruments in your classroom. Below are other articles on Bright Hub Education that will enhance your lessons.
- Shake, Tap, and Play a Merry Tune by Tania K. Cowling, Fearon Teacher Aids, 1992
- Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved
- Personal Experience in the Classroom
- Teach Engineering, Hands-on Activity: Simple Instruments
- Help Improve Cognitive Development: Learning with Musical Instruments