Guest Blogger, Dixie Somers
Early childhood is a beautiful time of learning, play and discovery, and music has a vital role in increasing your child’s ability to move, learn, and process information. Incorporating music into your child’s playtime has long lasting benefits, and what better way than to have your children create musical instruments with their own hands? Below are a few instruments you and your child can make and play together.
To create these fun instruments you will need:
- 2 Popsicle sticks (the width of tongue depressors),
- 3 rubber bands (one small and two large)
- 1 plastic straw
- Paint & paint brushes, colored pencils, markers, or other various colors
Before assembly: Have your child decorate the Popsicle stick however they like. If they use paint, allow the Popsicle sticks to completely dry before using them. While the Popsicle sticks are drying, cut two strips of construction paper (1 inch wide and 5 inches long) and place them aside. Cut two 1.5 inch pieces of straw.
Assembly: Cut two 1-inch pieces of straw, and place them aside. Then wrap the large rubber band length wise around one of the Popsicle sticks. Place the two cut pieces of straw on the two ends of the Popsicle stick, leaving some space open. Lay the other Popsicle stick on top, and use the two small rubber bands on each end to secure the entire harmonica together! The great thing about this instrument is not only creating it, but teaching your children to play it and seeing the sense of accomplishment they feel because of it.
Pan Flute Made from Straws
To create your pan flute you will need:
- 10 straws in a bunch of colors
- Sticky tape
Assembly: Cut your first straw at 20cm. Then cut your 2nd straw at 18cm, and repeat with each straw 2 cm shorter than the previous one until the last straw is 2 centimeters long. Once it is complete, tape all of the straws together in a flat line and enjoy! The exciting part about this instrument is allowing your child to create their own music and flex their creative muscles.
To create your own rain sticks, you will need:
- A paper towel tube or other long cardboard tube
- Aluminum foil
- Small dried beans (like lentils), unpopped popcorn, dry rice, or tiny pasta.
- Brown paper (from a grocery bag) or construction paper
- Crayons or markers
Assembly: Trace the ends of your paper towel roll on your brown or construction paper, and create little spokes around your circle. Create two of these circles. Cut along the spokes of one of those circles and glue the cap and spokes onto one end of your tube. Cut a piece of aluminum foil that is approximately 1.5 times the length of your paper towel roll. Crunch that foil into two long skinny pieces, and coil each piece like a spring, before placing them into the open end of your tube. Pour your beans, popcorn and pasta into the tube about 1/3rd of the way. Once everything is inside the tube, cut and glue the other circle with spokes to the other end of the tube to seal it. Then have your child decorate the tube with their colored pencils and markers. It is so much fun to create different sounds with different combinations of foil and beans/seeds. Experiment to see what sounds you can create together!
The Water Xylophone
For this water xylophone you will need:
- 7 empty and clean Snapple bottles (or other glass bottles that are all equal in size and make. e.g. Coca Cola bottles, mason jars, etc.)
- Food coloring
- Wooden spoons and metal butter knives
Assembly: This is perhaps the simplest one, and quite fun to experiment with. Fill each Snapple bottle with different amounts of water. Line them up from the most water to the least, and have your child color the water in each jar a different color. Then take your wooden spoons and butter knives in each hand, and strike away! Other than it being fun and a freeform instrument, allowing your child to experiment with the different notes and how they correlate with the volume of water teaches your child how to utilize this instrument to test their logical and mathematical intelligence.
Regardless of which instrument you choose to experiment with, these projects above are designed for you and your child to have fun as you embark on a journey of discovery though music. You might consider speaking to someone with an online masters in music education for deeper information about how music can benefit your child mentally, but these activities can also just increase your bond and open both of your worlds up to a whole new way to learn and play!