Music is even more fun for children when they make the instruments. The following are ideas to consider trying. When the children are finished making their music makers store them in colorful milk crates, large baskets or hang them on a peg board. Make sure the new instruments are available for the children. When they have many opportunities to use them, they focus less on just making noise and more on creating and experimenting with sound.
Infants: Milk Carton Drums – Cut off the tops from two half gallon milk or orange juice cartons. Put a ¼ cup of pebble or marbles (can also use macaroni or dried beans) in one of the cartons then slip the open end of the other carton to make a hollow rectangle. Cover with contact paper if you wish. Encourage the infants to play their drum by hitting them on the long side with their hands or wooden spoons.
Toddlers: Stringing Bells – Purchase bells at a discount store (especially after Xmas). These can be used in a variety of ways. Let toddlers decorate toilet paper tubes with crayons or markers then help them use a paper punch to make three or four holes around both ends of a toilet paper tube. Use yarn to attach a bell to each hole. Another activity toddlers can do with the bells is to lace them with yarn around the rings of a plastic six-pack holder. Other ideas are to put a few bells into small plastic bottles or margarine tubs to be shaken, or include parents by asking them to sew the bells onto ribbon strips. These also can be shaken.
Preschoolers: Bottle Top Tambourines – Collect and have the preschooler flatten metal tops from soft drink bottles. Have them then hammer a hole through the centers with a nail. Thread a string through three or four of them and tie them between the arms of a small branch or lace them around the rings of a plastic six-pack holder. These make a pleasant tingling sound when shaken. Another tambourine activity is to collect the pop tops off of can sodas and put them between two inverted aluminum foil pie plates. Staple the plates all around, and decorate them by adding paper streamers.
These music maker projects can excite even the youngest child’s imagination and promote a sense of great achievement. These activities were chosen to assist in the growth of many skills, including large and small muscle development, eye-hand coordination, sensory discrimination, concentration, how to solve problems and make decisions. Encourage children to experiment and create, and remember the value of these experiences lies in the doing, not the finished product.
Without music, life would be a mistake. (Friedrich Nietzsche)