Sometimes it seems like finding fun activities for your kids gets more and more expensive every day! If you can relate, we have some good news for you. Whether you’re hosting a birthday party or keeping a little one entertained on a lazy afternoon, you probably already have the materials around the house to delight your kids by making musical instruments out of every day objects. Kids love making things and they love making noise, so this is a perfect fun activity that won’t break the bank!
There are three main types of instruments to consider as you plan music activities for kids.
Percussive: Percussive instruments are struck by hand or with a mallet or stick.
Wind: Wind instruments are blown into or require air, like flutes or even the human voice.
String: String instruments simply include strings of some sort, anything from a harp to a guitar.
The following list of musical instruments that you can make out of everyday objects is not comprehensive, but it will get you started. Before you know it, you’ll be off and running with lots of ideas of your own.
- Drums and bongos. Cut off the end of a balloon, and stretch the rest of the balloon over an open tin can. The can may have just the top, or both the top and bottom, removed in order to create drums with different sounds. Stretch a rubber band over the top of the can to hold the balloon in place. You can play the drum with the sticks of your choosing.
- Scraper. Take stiff cardboard and cut it into pieces about the size of playing cards. You can scrape rhythms or even songs out on the tables, carpet, or even clothing. The same activity can be completed with stiff plastic such as milk bottles or ice cream containers. Do you have old debit or credit cards on hand? They make wonderful scrapers.
- Shaker. Take a small plastic drink container. Fill it with a small amount of rice, beans, or other small objects that will make an ample amount of noise. Seal the top of the container with tape and shake out rhythms or songs. You can also place larger beans in between two paper plates that you tape together to make a shaker.
- Mouth sounds. Experiment with singing, humming, whistling, and blowing raspberries. Can anyone in the group imitate animal sounds? A clucking or meowing sound might be the perfect accompaniment to a musical number.
- Bottle blowing. You can blow across the tops of various bottles to make sounds. Take the activity one level further by filling the bottles with different quantities of water. How does water affect the pitch and general sound quality? Empty bottles are also perfect percussion instruments. Students can use their hands or drumsticks to create rhythms.
- Bush bass. Take a wooden box and drill a hole in the bottom of it. Grab a piece of rope and tie a knot in one end. Bring it through the drilled hole until the knot prevents it from coming through the hole. Turn the box upside down so the rope comes out of the top of the box. Tie the other end of the rope to the end of a broomstick, so you can place the free end of the broomstick on the top of the box. Pull the rope taut against the stick and pluck it to create sounds.
- Chair guitar. Tie elastics or rubber bands from one chair leg to the leg of another nearby chair, and experiment with strumming. Tying the elastics off at different tensions will create different pitches.
- Bullroarer. Tie a piece of string approximately three feet long to a standard ruler. Hold the string at one end so the ruler can swing freely. Spin in a large circle. This is one of the most popular music activities for kids with everyday objects, as it creates a very fun noise.
- Ideas with string. Wrap rubber bands around cardboard and plastic boxes in different sizes. Using rubber bands in different sizes and varying the ways that you stretch them across boxes will create different sounds and pitches.
- Spoons. Teach your children the old art of playing the spoons. Take two spoons, put the concave ends together, and then snap them together.
See the amazing and cute instruments other parents and kids have made and share your creations with us on Pinterest!
Photo by The University of Iowa Libraries