One of my fondest memories is of my precious preschoolers and me marching and dancing around the living room with our “band instruments.” Most kids are born being interested in music. One of the best ways to cultivate their interest is to put on some upbeat music, usually really loud music, and start moving. You can march. You can dance. You can hop, skip, or even run. Just remember to have fun.
There are many options for purchasing rhythm instruments for your preschool music activities, but I am going to share with you how to make several instruments yourself.
You know those bright-colored plastic eggs we use at Easter every year? Keep a few out of your stash and fill them with rice, dried beans, or elbow macaroni. Be sure to securely tape up the eggs so they won’t pop open while your child is shaking away. You can fill other containers with rice or beans also. Try old spice containers or little jars with lids, like baby food jars or other small jars.
Other Fun Shakers
You can also make another kind of shaker with rice, macaroni, or dried beans as the filler. Find an empty toilet paper or paper towel roll. Tape up one end, then fill the roll with the rice or beans. Tape up the remaining end. You may also use staples to secure the rolls. Cover the rolls with construction paper and let your child decorate them with markers, crayons, stickers, paint, or anything else that strikes their fancy.
Take two paper plates and put them together with the sides you eat off of touching. Next, staple or tape halfway around them. Fill your tambourine with beans, macaroni, or even little bells. Small, round bells can be purchased at most craft stores for a nominal cost. Then tape or staple the opening closed. Decorate with markers, crayons, colored paper, paint, and other craft objects. You could use colored feathers, pom-poms, sequins, or anything else your child would like to use.
Drums can really be made from just about anything you can beat together. My children always loved using pots and pans or plastic, Tupperware-type bowls. Use wooden spoons to beat on your drums. You can also make a drum from an empty oatmeal box. Cover your oatmeal drum with construction paper, or paint it if you prefer. Decorate with other craft materials by drawing or gluing things onto the drum.
You can beat two wooden spoons together for this one. You can also buy wooden dowels very cheaply at home improvement stores or craft stores. Just beat them together in time with the beat of the music.
Pick up a little bag of the jingle bells from your local craft store. String them on yarn, pipe cleaners, or elastic to make bracelets or anklets for your child to jingle around in.
Get some sandpaper and cut it to fit two wooden blocks you are not using. Glue the sandpaper to the blocks. The child can scrape these together in rhythm to the music.
Cut a small rectangular piece of thick cardboard for each castanet. Then glue a small jar lid, a bottle cap, or a huge button (1 ½” or more in diameter) onto each end of the cardboard. Next, fold the piece of cardboard in half so there will be a lid, cap or button on each end. The child can then click the two sides together to make rhythmic music.
The best thing to use for cymbals is two metal pie pans. Simply have your child strike the two pans together when it seems to fit best in the music. These add to the drama of the whole activity, and are usually good for making everyone laugh.
If you want to get a little more elaborate, you can make your own maracas. Inflate a small balloon to the desired size for the maraca. Don’t make it too big, just a little air will do for this. Cover the balloon with paper mache. Here is a good article on Associated Content that explains how to make paper mache maracas: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1450794/how_to_make_paper_mache_maracas.html?cat=24 .
Now, what are you waiting for? Go and make some music with your children or preschool class!