Monday, January 7, 2013

Making Music With Young Children

Hello again and Happy New Year! It's Ayn from little illuminations

I'm sure you've seen the research that music has amazing effects on the development of a young child's brain---we've even had several posts here about it!  Music aids in mathematical thinking, boosts spatial awareness, and can even have a profound effect on literacy development. Learning to play an instrument can be quite beneficial to the development of a young brain. Much of the research is new, but the philosophy is as old as the ages. Take these quotes from Plato on music education:

Young children have the wonderful ability to hear music in the everyday sounds they hear. 

Musical instruments don't have to be fancy. They don't even have to be store bought. Even the simplest day-to-day items can be turned into an instrument.

First of all, don't forget the simplest instrument of all---your voice! Add some props as microphones for fun and there is no other equipment necessary! I purchased these toy microphones at the dollar store and the kids ADORE them!!! Kids will turn anything into a microphone: cylinder blocks, hairbrush, unifix cubes, rhythm sticks, you name it! 

Some of the simplest instruments to make are paper shakers. Seal a toilet paper tube or folded paper plate with beans, beads, rice, paperclips, peas, pasta, or any similar item. It's fun to make several with a variety of items to make different sounds. 

Plastic Easter Eggs or water bottles can also be used. The problem I've found with using those is that the children eventually unseal these and little bits are everywhere. This year, I had a little brainstorm to prevent that. We used paper mache' to completely cover the eggs and water bottles and painted over it. I sprayed with a coat of sealant and we have some wonderful sounding shakers!

Drums can be fashioned from coffee cans (both plastic and tin) and oatmeal containers. I always keep a wide variety of cans in my music center for the children to experiment with. Children can use their bare hands or use drumsticks made from pencils/erasers, popsicle sticks, rhythm sticks, lollipops----pretty much anything!

This year, we made a few drums by covering the mouth of the can with the head of a balloon. I cut off the mouth piece and stretched it over the opening and sealed it to the can with duct tape. On the later drums, I've layer two balloons to make them a little more durable. These have held up fairly well, even with constant use and abuse. Only one of the drums with a balloon top has ripped. We covered that top completely in duct tape and now it has a sound all of its own!

I plan to write more about these faux Chinese drums on little illuminations later this month, but couldn't bear to leave them out of this post. We have a store bought Chinese drum that is on its final days, so I have been experimenting with various ways to make these that would be fun and functional. I made the ones below pretty simply, with some cardboard circle cut outs, wooden skewers, some string and buttons. 

Chinese Drum Toy from:

One of the instruments that I've wanted for a long while now, is a set of bongos. They are sturdy enough that little hands can tap and pat out a beat without fear of breaking. I've never been fortunate enough to have a set in my classroom --- Until now! Look what we made with two jugs of different sizes and a little duct tape to hold it all together. WE HAVE BONGOS!!!! 

We are really enjoying the exploration of music, sounds and rhythm in my preschool class. Our music center is one of the most popular centers to play in. We play our instruments to music on cds, make our own music and practice making and copying each others' rhythms.  

One of the things I've overheard other teachers say is that "it just gets so loud when the children are experimenting with sound" so, many teachers end up limiting the amount of time the center is open or the amount of noise that can be made. My solution for that is simple. Instead of limiting, EXPAND! Expand your exploration to outside! Take the instruments outdoors and let the children make as much noise as they wish! 

One of my resolutions for the New Year is to remember to take take to stop and smell the roses. And while I'm at it, I'm going to stop and enjoy the music, too! 

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.  ~Victor Hugo

Music is moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and a charm and gaeity to life and to everything.   ~Plato

If you have any great ideas for homemade musical instruments, we'd love to you share with us in the Comments section!

Also, we've just opened our PreK+K Sharing Early Education Emporium! We already have several great contributors, and I hope to have some ideas there soon, too, from little illuminations

Stop by and visit me anytime at or visit the little illuminations fanpage on facebook!


  1. Great Blog! Love that the children create their own instruments. That is empowering. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Enrique! We are really enjoying experimenting with different sounds!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Love this so much! We used to share a bongo drum and how easy it would have been to make some, as children enjoy those so much. I don't know how children like music and instruments but the certainly know what to do! Thank you for these excellent ideas. Carolyn

  5. i love it !! thank you

  6. So much fun! And I love the band concerts that result! Your blog is a great resource. Thanks!

  7. What great ideas! I think the best way to get children to learn is to make music fun! Music is so great and beneficial for children, so finding ways to help them enjoy it is always valuable information. Thanks for sharing!

  8. wow! these looks pretty awesome..i love to try making it at home for my little one's..i am sure they would also love it..


We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment below....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...