Tag Archives: children’s musical instruments

A Rhythm Tree For Earth Day Or Any Day

Here’s a great project for Earth Day or a summer camp or group play activity. It’s a fun way to combine recycling and reusing materials with discovering rhythm and creative music-making.

A while back, we did a post about rhythm trees and you can find that listed below.  But since we also get questions about the best components for this project, we thought we’d share a list here, just in time for outdoor musical fun.

And remember, if you don’t have the perfect music tree, you can also do this project on a clothesline or between poles on a playground.

So here’s our top suggestions.

Pizza Pie Plate Gong

STARR GARDENS - a few instruments for Rhythm TreeThese sound great and provide a nice large surface for tapping and drumming. Look for used metal containers such as turkey pans or pizza pie plates. They can be painted and decorated and hung at various heights from your tree or clothesline. If you can find trash can lids or used pans or pots that aren’t too heavy, they might make a nice addition to the project as well.

Milk Jug Rattle

Rhythm tree - clothesline instrumentsClean a large plastic container and add some rattling components inside. Decorate the outside of the container, if you like as well.  Seal it up and hang it for a nice sound when tapped. If you hang it low enough, kids can also grab and shake or “swoosh” the container for a different kind of percussion sound.

A Giant Guiro

rhythm tree - paper towel roll guiroThreading together wrapping paper or poster tube rolls makes for a giant guiro. Take a stick or a whisk and brush it down the sides for a fun repeating percussive sound.

 

Hanging Log Drum

rhythm tree playing tubeIf you can find a large tube like these, you can hang it up and play it like the type of log drums found in Africa, the Pacific Islands or the Northern Native American tribes, like the Inuit.  Tapping different sections of the drum will produce slightly different sounds – what fun!

Play With Your Hands – Or With Recycled Mallets

homemade guiro and 6 raspsSome of the instruments you hang can be tapped or played with your hands. Easy mallets can also be created from wooden dowels, wooden spoons, sticks, unsharpened pencils, plastic spoons or forks, hair picks, chopsticks or similar objects.

 

What Else Can You Find To Make Music With?

little-guy-and-washboardThe best part of this project is seeing how creative kids can be with everyday items. Encourage your little ones to come up with suggestions of what else might become part of an amazing and fun musical tree.

Links and Resources

Make Your Own Rhythm Tree:  http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/a-music-tree-or-rhythm-clothesline-for-outdoor-musical-fun/

Natural Instruments – Sticks, Stones and Bamboo Percussion For Kids: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/all-natural-instruments-sticks-stones-and-bamboo-percussion-for-kids/

Seven Awesome Summer Music Activities:  http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/early-learning-with-music/7-awesome-summer-music-ideas/

Turn A Milk Jug Into A Recycled Shekere: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/turn-a-milk-jug-into-a-recycled-shekere/

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Chinese New Year For Kids – Music and Crafts!

Screen shot 2017-01-27 at 11.40.50 AMIn 2017, the Chinese Lunar New Year begins on January 28th and we welcome in the year of the fire rooster!

Over the past years, we’ve shared some of our favorite music crafts that are easy to make for all ages and use recycled and “on-hand” materials. This year we decided to do share our 3 most popular music crafts as well as share our favorite Chinese New Year Pinterest Board, so you can explore a world of great crafts, foods, books, games and activities and related Chinese New Year Kids activities.

So bang a gong, make a paper lantern,color a New Years greeting and celebrate a beautiful Chinese Lunar New Year!

Music Posts

sheep goat gongMake Your Own Gong Post- http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/bang-a-gong/

PDF Activity (free on TPT) https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Make-Your-Own-Chinese-Gong-From-Recycled-Materials-486935

Bolang Gu creft + real oneMake Your Own Bolang Gu Chinese Pellet Drum Post http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/chinese-mandarin/make-your-own-bolang-gu-chinese-pellet-drum/

PDF on TPT https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Monkey-Drum-Chinese-New-Year-Drum-Craft-1748044

Make Your Own Tinghsha Handbells – PDF on TPT Tinghsa on redhttps://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Explore-Tibetan-Handbells-Plus-a-Make-Your-Own-Handbell-Craft-560016

 

A World Of Great Crafts And Activities – Via Pinterest!

I’m proud to be part of the Multicultural Kid Bloggers networks who hosts a Chinese New Year Pinterest board.  Visit here for an ever-expanding collection of Screen shot 2017-01-27 at 12.05.38 PMgreat crafts, activities, coloring pages, books, foods and more.   Some of our favorite are the pretty paper lantern craft,  fortune cookie activity, the Chinese zodiac matching cards and … so … much … more!

https://www.pinterest.com/MKBlogs/chinese-new-year/

How To Make Bottle Cap Bangles For Recycled Musical Instruments

tambourine-with-zilsIf you’ve ever made a homemade tambourine or sistrum, you’ve probably wanted to use bangles like those seen on traditional middle eastern drums or instruments.  Technically, these round thin mini-cymbals are called zils.  You can see some lovely large zils on this antique tambourine from the Middle East.

If you’re crafting an instrument that uses these bangles, it’s easy to make a simple version of zils out of recycled bottle caps using a few tools that are handy around any home or garage.

bangles-work-areaWhat You Need

Metal bottle caps
Piece of Wood
Hammer
Large nail with a head
Safety Goggles

 

Safety First

Although this is a reasonably safe and easy project, it’s always a good idea to use caution.  Wearing safety goggles means that your eyes and face are protected if you accidentally hit the cap too hard and it bounces off the wooden work surface. In general, a good tip for this project is to use the hammer slowly and gently, tapping repeatedly until you get the desired results.

Set Up A Work Area

Set the piece of wood down either on the floor, the ground or a sturdy table.  Place the metal bottle cap (cap-side-up) and then position the large nail above it, directly in the center.  Gently tap until the nail has pierced the cap and reached down into the wood.  This creates the hole that will allow you to thread it onto whatever you are making.

Next, With cap-side-down, next gently strike all the edges of the bottle cap until it slowly flattens.  This can take 15, 20 or more gentle taps with the hammer.

bangles-from-bottle-capsNext, turn the bottle cap over.  Continue to tap the outer edges and the inner circle until all the sharp edges are flattened and pressed into the cap’s surface.  Although some recycled projects use the bottle caps in their original form – such as the wooden sistrum from Africa seen below – flattening the bangles makes them safer to handle and use in any project.

If you’re doing this project with very small children, you might wish to create the bangles in advance and focus more on how the children can string the bangles plus other rattling objects onto their craft instrument.

giveaway-wooden-sistrum-africaWondering what else you could add to a tambourine or sistrum project?  In addition to bottle cap zils, you can add paper clips, buttons, jingles, beads or pull tabs from soda cans.  Remember, while you’re reducing, reusing and recycling, you’re also teaching kids to limit their use of resources but never limit their imagination or creativity!

And that’s a win/win for everyone!

Links and Resources

Color An Ancient Egyptian Sistrum  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Color-An-Ancient-Egyptian-Rattle-The-Sistrum-2166721

Ancient Instruments – Make Your Own Egyptian Sistrum https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Ancient-Instruments-Make-Your-Own-Egyptian-Sistrum-Rattle-1617163

Ancient Instruments From The Middle East, Kids Mini-Lesson https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Ancient-Instruments-From-The-Middle-East-Mini-Lesson-2127995

7 Awesome Summer Music Ideas!

Rhythm Tree drumming around

Will you be going camping, hosting a summer camp or just having a staycation in the great outdoors of your big backyard?

If so, music may be one of the creative activities you can include to make it even more enriching, fun and memorable.  Here’s a compilation of our most popular “making music outdoors” posts.

Make a Rhythm Tree

rhythm tree - playgroundYou already have the components for a large outdoor percussion place right in your garage or recycling bin!  A bit of artistic creativity can turn them into items to adorn a tree for free form musical expression.  Don’t have the perfect tree?  You can always substitute a clothesline or rope for a different version of this great kids project.  Check out the full post here:

http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/a-music-tree-or-rhythm-clothesline-for-outdoor-musical-fun/

Nature Walk Rattle

Earth Day Rattle FinishedThis super-simple craft starts with a wide-mouth recyclable container and ends – anywhere you want it to!  Talk a hike around your local park, lake or playground and you can identify and gather materials that will shake rattle and roll for you.  Do this activity for younger kids as a sensory craft or for older kids as a plant or natural object identification quest.  Or a scavenger hunt.  Anyone up for finding a fern frond, a hickory nut or a pine cone?  All the details are here: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/early-learning-with-music/make-an-earth-day-nature-walk-rattle/

Make a Bullroarer!

bullroarers - plasticWant to create a musical instrument shared by both Australian Aboriginal and Native American peoples?  Make and play a bullroarer and you should be able to hear it an amazingly long distance away.  Since this requires a bit of space to play, it’s perfect for large open spaces or as an outdoor activity.  Check out the crazy sound it makes and the complete post about Australian instruments here: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/outdoor-musical-play-make-your-own-bullroarer/

Do The Limbo

limbo at core creekHave a large group of kids and want to get a lakeside or pool party going – start the limbo.  This post shares the background of the limbo plus several ways you can adjust the rules for kids of all ages and abilities.  How low can you go?  Find out here: https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/it%E2%80%99s-summertime-%E2%80%93-do-the-limbo/

Gourd Water Drum

plastic water drum playingVersions of this drum that floats on water are found in both Mayan and African cultures.  Make your own version outside on a hot day and create some amazing sounds while cooling off and playing in the water!  Read all about it here: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/musical-water-play-a-myo-gourd-style-water-drum/

Craft it Up!

bella and washboardAlthough this is an Earth Day themed E-book, the 10 crafts start with recycled materials found anywhere and end up with gongs, drums, rattles, clapsticks and much more.  Check out this E-book plus cd, for lots of ideas for the summer craft table: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/EARTH-DAY-CD-PLUS-E-BOOK-OF-10-RECYCLED-MUSICAL-ACTIVITIES-658096

Write An Earth Day Song

You don’t need to go to a music camp to learn basic songwriting with easy activities like this that take a recognizable melody and help you craft your own small hands change the worldlyrics.  Use the Earth Day theme or choose another subject and you’re on your way to creating a personalized soundtrack to this summer’s fun.  No previous songwriting experience needed!  Check it out here: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/sing-your-own-earth-day-song/

Kaleidoscope Rattles

kaleidoscope rattle and shayHave you ever looked through a kaleidoscope to see an ever-changing array of beautiful colors?

Here’s a fun little rattle that creates a lovely flow of colors when it’s played. And it’s nice and quiet so it’s perfect for music-making with a large group of children or for kids who have noise sensitivity. It’s also one of our favorite projects for creating with kids on the autistic spectrum as it’s fun to make, easy to control and the sound is soothing and not harsh or abrupt.

Here’s what you need to make your own kaleidoscope rattles.

Supplies

Clear Recycled Plastic Bottles (like from water or juice) with a lid
Q-tips
Washable markers
Electric tape (for sealing the rattles)

What To Do

Clean and dry the plastic bottles thoroughly. You can do this easily by rinsing them out and placing them upside down in a regular glass or a jar.

Kaleidoscope Q tipsNext take the washable markers and color the tips of the Q-tips any color that you like.  Color as many as you like and drop them into the bottle.

Every so often, shake the bottle to see if you like the sound. The tone of the rattle will change each time you add another Q-tip to the container!

When you’re satisfied with the array of color and the sound of the rattle, put the lid on and seal it up with electrical tape to keep the contents inside.

Time To Play!

kaleidoscope tableShaking the rattle around in a circular motion displays a wonderful changing series of colors.  But since this is a rattle, you can play it any way you like. Shake it up and down, side to side or get up and dance with it!

Shake it along with a favorite song that you love to sing. Or play along to recorded music. Make several and compare the sounds as well as the colors as you enjoy your handiwork.

Have fun and keep making music!

Chinese New Year Music Crafts For Kids!

mandarinBoyRedHave you heard? February 8th marked the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year and it’s the year of the Fire Monkey.

If you’re unfamiliar with Chinese New Year, here is our compilation post that shares some wonderful ways to learn more and celebrate right in your home or classroom.  The first group of posts are music and music-related, but we just could not resist adding ones about food, fun and other festivities!

And stay tuned for our next post that teaches you a very familiar and easy-to-learn Chinese New Year song!

Music Crafts For Chinese New Year

Bolang Gu  - Craft versionMake a Bolang Gu – Monkey Drum https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Monkey-Drum-Chinese-New-Year-Drum-Craft-1748044

Make Your Own Chinese Gong https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Make-Your-Own-Chinese-Gong-From-Recycled-Materials-486935

Explore and Make Tibetan Handbells https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Explore-Tibetan-Handbells-Plus-a-Make-Your-Own-Handbell-Craft-560016

Erhu - Color ImageColor an Erhu – A Two-Stringed Chinese Violin https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Erhu-Chinese-Violin-Instruments-From-Around-The-World-1037355

About Chinese New Year

“Gong Xi! Gong Xi!” – The Excitement of Chinese New Year https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/gong-xi-gong-xi-the-excitement-of-chinese-new-year/

Chinese New Year ScrollsWhat To Expect In The Year of The Monkey http://multiculturalkidblogs.com/2016/01/18/year-of-the-monkey-chinese-new-year/

Chinese New Year Astrology Chart – Find Your Birth Year Here! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chinese-Astrology-Chart-What-Lunar-Year-Is-It-2377484b

dragon dance imageChinese New Year – Crafts And Creativity!

Chinese Dumplings For New Year  http://kidworldcitizen.org/2016/02/08/8935/

Lucky Money Envelops  http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/lucky-money-envelopes

Chinese Paper Lantern Craft – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/462956036675678391/

How To Make Paper Fortune Cookies http://unsophisticook.com/how-to-make-paper-fortune-cookies/

Recipes To Celebrate Chinese New Year http://intheplayroom.co.uk/2015/01/26/chinese-recipes-celebrate-chinese-new-year/

Picture Books Celebrating Chinese New Year http://youthlitreviews.com/2014/01/13/chinese-new-year-books-for-kids/

Make A Little Drum Beater For A Big Drum!

kids playing pueblo drumNovember is Native American Heritage month and it’s a great time to step right up and play a big drum!

Whether it’s a pow-wow drum, a pueblo drum (as seen here) or another drum you have, you’ll need a special stick to play that drum. And here’s how you can make an easy version, perfect for small hands with big hearts!

Pencil Mini-Drum Beaters -Materials Needed

One pencil per child

Colorful electrical or washi tape

Pipe cleaners (optional)

Feathers (optional)

pencil drum beatersStart with colorful (unsharpened) pencils. Wrap the pencil side with the electrical or washi tape and add feathers with pipe cleaners if desired.

These smaller beaters are the perfect size for young children to hold and will make it easier for them to tap or play a drum.

Playing Any Drum

Use your drum beater to play a frameless pow-wow drum (instructions below) or tap out a beat on any drum you might have around the classroom or house.

Don’t have a drum handy? No problem, I suggest you find a round container, like a sturdy laundry hamper or large plastic container and improvise a drum. Overturned pots and pans will work as well, but can be really loud and possibly have an adverse effect on young children’s hearing.

Playing A Pow-Wow Drum

pencil beater on drumTo play a Native American pow-wow drum, each drummer will need one beater.  The goal is to play in unison, with everyone’s beater hitting the drum head at the same time.  This can be a wonderful way to teach cooperation and listening skills as the sound of the drum is amazing and powerful when everyone strikes together!

Want to hear a real pow-wow drum and a pow-wow drum song.  Check out the Starfeather Group who you can hear in the links below.

Can you play along to those powerful songs?

Links and Resources

pow wow drumHear a Pow-wow Drum  http://www.dariamusic.com/drum.php

Make a (Frameless) Pow-Wow Drum  http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Drum.php

Color a Pow-wow Drum – Printable and Online http://www.dariamusic.com/drum.php

You are welcome At A Native American Pow-Wow (Post on Pow-Wow Etiquette) http://multiculturalkidblogs.com/2014/11/02/native-american-pow-wow/

Make A Native American Turtle rattle From Recycled Materials https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Native-American-Turtle-Shell-Rattle-Craft-Using-Recycled-Materials-600715

Turn a Milk Jug Into a Recycled Shekere

recycled shekeres in classDo you know the three R’s? Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

How about the four “R’s”?   Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… and Rock Out! While you’re going greener and thinking about reducing or reusing plastic, here’s a fun way to turn large containers into child-size versions of African shekeres.

What’s a Shekere?

I wonder if shekeres were “original recycling projects”. Perhaps someone looked at dried gourds and decided they could be made into musical instruments. To do this, a netting of beads (called a skirt) was crafted around the gourd and small beads, seeds or shells were strung in the fiber to create the sound of the instrument. Most music historians believe the shekere began in West Africa but can now be found with variations in size, beadwork, shape and manner of playing throughout the African continent and around the world.

A Milk Jug Shekere

Since you probably have more plastic containers than cleaned and dried gourds, start by finding an empty milk jug, large water bottle or similar item from your recycling bin. Before you begin, make sure it fits nicely into your child’s hands.

Recycled shekere plus paper to beadBeading With Stickers or Markers

Doing intricate crafts like beading is great fun but takes practice and patience, plus motor skills that can be a difficult for small children. Here’s an easy alternative.

If your container is clear and clean, you can place stickers directly onto the plastic bottle or draw “beads” with markers, making colorful patterns or shapes. If there’s a label on the container, you can cut out a piece of poster board or construction paper to fit the container and lay the paper flat. This makes for easy “sticker beading” and a fun way to explore patterns, shapes and colors with your young child.

If you’re working with a classroom of kids or have a limited time to do this project, you can skip the aspect of trying to “bead” the shekere and allow the kids to simply decorate the outside of the container.

Sounding Good!

mini shekere for storeIn traditional shekeres, the sound comes from the beads or seeds rattling on the outside of the gourd. In our recycled version, we’ll need to add something inside the container to create the sound.   Here are some suggestions for a quieter recycled shekere: sand, salt, sugar, tiny pasta (like acini de pepi), seed beads, Q-tips and paper clips. Here are some fillings you can use to create a louder instrument: pebbles, dried pasta, dried beans, popcorn kernels, marbles or pennies.

Once you’ve filled your shekere and you like the sound it makes. Put the cap on and seal it into place with heavy duty tape to keep this project child-safe.

plastic shekereTime to Play

Although a shekere is a rattle, there’s a lot of different ways you can play it. Here are some playing suggestions:

Hold the handle and shake.

Hold both sides and rattle the contents back and forth.

Hold both sides and toss it gently while twisting it.

Hold it vertically and toss it gently from hand to hand.

Peru_Preschool_ShakureSit a short distance from a friend and toss it back and forth.

With a group of children, sit in a circle and toss it from child to child around the circle.

Try any of the above ideas while singing or while music is playing. Try to shake along to the beat.

Links and Resources

Hear A Shekere

http://www.dariamusic.com/shekere.php

Color a Shekere Online

http://www.dariamusic.com/color_Shekere.php

Bead an African Shekere

https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/bead-your-own-african-shekere/

2 recycled smilk jug shekeresMake a Classroom Shekere (From A Gourd)

http://tinytappingtoes.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/easy-gourd-shekere-for-a-child-or-a-classroom/

An Alphabet Shekere Game

http://www.trueaimeducation.com/2012/10/guest-post-learning-letters-with-an-alphabet-shekere.html

Sekere.com – Beaded Sekeres from Master Craftswoman, Sara Fabunmi

http://www.sekere.com

Cultural Value of the Shekere, Article By Sara Fabunmi

https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/the-cultural-value-of-the-sekere/

A Child-Safe Version of Easter Shaker Eggs – Directions in English and Spanish

hands with shaker eggs

Nothing is more fun then playing with those cute little colorful plastic Easter eggs you find at this time of year.

But if you’ve ever tried to reuse them for musical “shaker eggs”, you’ve probably noticed how easily they break or come apart to reveal the tiny items inside that make the percussive sound. The small materials found inside could easily be eaten or become a safety concern for toddlers and young children.

Well, don’t give up on the idea of recycled Easter shaker eggs just yet.  Here’s instructions in Spanish and English on how to create simple hand-held shakers that won’t ever spill or open and can be a part of your family’s musical fun!  The easy step-by-step instructions can be found at the links below.

Still wondering what to do with those plastic egg shells?  We also love this PBS parents post from Salsa Pie that adds two plastic spoons to recycle them into a much safer set of egg maracas.

Make Your Own Recycled Shaker Eggs
http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/babies-and-music/make-your-own-recycled-shaker-eggs/

Haz Tus Propios Huevos Sonajeros Reciclados
https://creciendoconmusicblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/haz-tus-propios-huevos-sonajeros-reciclados/

Egg Music Shakers From Salsa Pie (Via PBS Parents)
http://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids/egg-music-makers/

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With Your Little One!

One of our most popular Tiny Tapping Toes posts was a MYO Irish Drum tutorial.   Decorate this easy, hand-held drum with any type of St. Patrick’s Day theme and you’re ready to play in minutes!

Younger kids can tap the drum with the “tipper” and older kids can try to master the technique of striking back and forth with the “cipín”, the Celtic name for the stick that strikes the drum.

You can see that complete post as well as related children’s music videos with an Irish theme at the links below.

Links And Resources

take out bodhransMake Your Own Bodhrán Irish Drum
http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/make-your-own-bodhran-irish-drum/

Irish Videos on Multicultural Kids Music Vids
http://multikidsmusicvids.com/?cat=512