Have you ever seen Spanish castanets? Traditional ones are beautifully crafted or carved from wood and often painted with themes like the Spanish countryside or elegant dancers. Playing the castanets is a fun way of allowing a child to develop a sense of rhythm, fine motor skills and also a great way to explore the music and culture of Spain.
Many historians think that castanets – or castañuelas in Spanish – were originally made from the shells of walnuts or chestnuts. Since creating “walnut shell” castanets might be complicated and require tools such as drills, we wanted to share a simpler version of homemade castanets that can be made from sturdy paper, buttons and glue.
Start by cutting rectangles of the sturdy paper about 4 – 6 inches long and about ½ to 1 inch wide. Fold the paper in half so that it leaves a crease in the middle.
Next, choose a pair of buttons and glue one on each end. After the button castanet is dry, pick it up and play by clicking the buttons together. Make several pairs with different kinds of buttons and notice how the sound is unique with each one. (One safety note: If you are working with small children or have younger children nearby, be cautious about the buttons as potential choking hazards if swallowed.)
Playing Button Castanets
This craft is so easy that even an adult can do it! Feel free to learn and play along with your child. Simply put the button castanets between your thumb and first finger and click away. Play fast, slow, or tap back and forth between the left hand and right hand. Click or clack along to a favorite song or rhyme or put on a recording of music that you love. See if you can match the beat you hear or create a new one that works with the song.
Intrigued by castanets and what you can do with them? Here’s an article that tells you more about their background and shares one woman’s amazing talent in playing this type of hand percussion.
What Are Castanets or Castañuelas
Supplies For This Project:
A small amount of sturdy paper (such as a recycled manila folder or poster board)
Pairs of buttons
Glue or glue gun