Looking for some fun activities for April to celebrate Earth Day? This project combines getting outdoors, exploring nature and having some musical fun at the same time. Here’s what you need for this eco-friendly project that is just as easy and as much fun as a walk in the park!
Any see-through recycled container, preferably with a large “mouth” opening
Backyard, park, beach or other great natural place to walk
Sturdy tape (like electrical tape) for sealing the instrument when completed
ALL ABOUT RATTLES
Rattles are one of the simplest instruments to play and can be found around the world. They appear in different forms and are made of some really diverse materials. Take a look at some of the examples here. They can be made from dried gourds, seashells, clay, bark, coconuts, and a variety of other natural materials. Caixixi (pronounced “ka-she-she”) rattles from Africa are made from woven fiber. In India, there are rattles made from colored palm fronds woven together in clever patterns – as beautiful to see as they are to hear. On the coast area of Peru,
there’s rattle made from the jawbone of a donkey with the loose teeth making the vibrating sound. In short, people generally make instruments from materials that they have found in abundance near their home. We are going to take that same approach in creating recycled “nature walk” rattles!
MAKE YOUR OWN RATTLE
Since most families probably don’t have coconuts in their front yard or gourds or palm leaves drying in their ceiling rafters – we’ll opt for materials that can be found in most homes – recycled containers. Start with a clean, clear, see-through container with a lid and you are ready to go!
While walking in your backyard or the park, look for items that might make a wonderful sound when placed inside your recycled container and shaken. You can stop by your bird feeder for a handful of sunflower seeds, look for pebbles, acorns or small twigs. Are there any small pine cones, dried berries or other seeds from plants you find? If you are passing by a stream, you’ll find smooth pebbles that the water has polished for you. By the shores of a pond or lake, you might find driftwood, shells from small fresh water clams or unoccupied snail shells. If you’re lucky, you might find a colorful feather or a unique rock to add, making your rattle truly special for you!
Did you find something you don’t recognize? If you’re in a larger park or have one nearby, stop and talk to the naturalist or some of the park rangers, staffers or volunteers on duty. They can often help you identify nuts, seeds, plants or other items found on your walk making this trip an educational exploration as well.
When you’ve finished adding items to your rattle, seal it with some sturdy tape, such as electrical tape. This helps keep the contents inside and generally makes it a safer activity for younger children. Then what? Then, it’s time to have fun! Play your rattle along with your favorite music. It will fit in with any music from slow and quiet to happy and upbeat – even wild and crazy tunes.
I particularly like to play my recycled rattle with music about the Earth or nature. Some of my favorite songs are below such as “We’ve Got The Whole World In Our Hands” and “Wild And Free”, about caring for dolphins, whales, manatees and creatures that live on the land as well. But my rattle has a particular favorite song that makes it dance with joy. It’s called: “Be Kind To Your Web Footed Friends”. Why?
Look closely and you’ll see that this rattle has a small mallard duck feather in it!