4 Musical Instruments You and Your Child Can Make at Home


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.


Homemade Harmonica

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
  • Scissors
  • 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
  • Scissors

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.


Rain Sticks

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
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • 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.)
  • Water
  • 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!

DIY Pre-Op Medical Play Materials

Working in private practice, I don’t have access to a medical closet that is filled with supplies to teach kids about an upcoming procedure, therefore I have to get really creative with loose parts.

I would encourage all child life specialists to incorporate this with patients, as it helps to deepen their thought process and gain mastery. They can build and manipulate with everyday materials to understand an illness, medical procedure or treatment. It is something that the whole family can do to open up the dialogue about what they are experiencing and strengthen coping strategies.

Here are the pre-op materials that I used for an eight-year-old having surgery.

Photo of a real pulse oximeter:

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 12.10.55 PM

Loose Parts version:

DIY PulseOx

Materials used: light-up finger toys (found at the Dollar Store), old computer cord, and an ace bandage.

Photo of EKG Stickers:images-1

Loose Parts Version:


Materials used: wires, furniture pads, double-sided adhesive.

Photo of an IV Needle and Catheter:


Loose Parts Version:

DIY IVNeedle

Materials used: ballpoint pen and a plastic fork.

Photo of IV tubing and bag:

CM9216Loose Parts Version:

DIY IVBag Materials used: tubing, packaging airbag, iv catheter, tape and small rubber piece from a toy.

When I met with the patient, I gave her the opportunity to create a brace and crutches for her surgi doll. She and her mother used pipe cleaners, velcro, ace bandage, and shoe heel pads to create this.


So don’t get discouraged if you don’t have all the real medical materials to teach with, just create with what you find in your home or playroom.

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Easy Ways to Designate Space for Reading With Your Child

Easy Ways to Designate Space for Reading with your Child
Via DecoratingRoom.net

Guest Blog Post From, Danielle Hegedus

The Children’s Reading Foundation recommends reading with your child for at least 20 minutes a day. Reading with your children at an early age (even in infancy) is key to language development, listening skills, and overall academic performance. Read on for suggestions on how to create the space and time necessary to foster a love of reading in your child, making reading an important aspect of your relationship.

Keep Plenty of Reading Material On Hand

Building a library for your child doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for book fairs held at your local schools, libraries, churches and community centers. Also hit up yard sales and thrift stores. Talk to parents in your community about setting up a book swap to keep the books in your child’s library fresh. You can also sign up for magazine subscriptions or check out Zoobean to give your child new reading materials to look forward to each month.

Via Project Nursery

Create a Kid-Friendly Reading Nook

If you’re trying to convince your kids to read at the kitchen table while you prepare dinner, it will feel like a chore. Instead, make reading a special treat for your child by creating a space where they want to hang out. A reading nook just needs good lighting, a comfortable place to sit, and plenty of books. This converted closet provides a comfortable and inviting space for your child to curl up with a book. It also provides convenient storage to build a home library.

Via DecoratingRoom.net

I love this whimsical tent with festive lights and comfortable pillows. Child or adult, who wouldn’t want to hang out in here? Reading is an adventure and this unique reading nook only adds to the excitement.

Va DecoratingRoom.net

Take Reading Time Beyond the Page

You can make reading more interesting to kids by using fun voices for different characters, but you can take it to the next level with a puppet show. Put on a few puppet shows for your kids so that they understand how they work, and then let them run the show. After you read a book with your children, work together to make simple puppets out of thick construction paper or cardstock and popsicle sticks. I love this set up (pictured) because there is no real construction involved. Simply purchase a large tri-fold display board and decorate it to your liking. With time, you puppet shows can evolve into original works created by your children!

Via Tonya Stabb

My friend sets up a mini talk show set and encourages her 3-year-old daughter to interview various people in her life. Not only is it adorable, but it really builds her confidence and her vocabulary. Set up two chairs and a faux microphone and encourage your children to pretend to be characters from the book you just read. They can take turns interviewing and role-playing as various characters. “Mr. Caterpillar, just why are you so hungry?”

Via Pinterest

Walk and Talk With Your Kids

Taking a walk in a park or just in the neighborhood is good for everyone in the family. Add to the benefits of fresh air and exercise by being mindful about the conversation you have with your children. Ask them to point out things that start with the same sound, like a flower and a fence. Encourage them to find objects in their environment that rhyme like tree and bee. Mess For Less has a fun template for a neighborhood I-Spy game. Growing Book by Book also has a fun activity for early readers working on learning the alphabet–a backyard dig!

Stacey Joyner, a reading specialist and program associate with Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) Texas Comprehensive Center says, “By helping your child learn to hear the different sounds in words, you are supporting one of the critical skills that children need in order to learn to read well. That skill is called phonemic awareness. By hearing and saying rhymes, singing songs, and clapping syllables, children focus on the sounds in the words.”

Make the Most of Your Commute With Audiobooks

Sitting in traffic is no picnic for anyone, but it can be an opportunity to make the most of having your child’s undivided attention. Between iTunes and Audible.com and hundreds of free family friendly podcasts, there are opportunities for new lessons every car trip. According to Reading Rockets, some of the benefits of audiobooks for young readers include:

  • Introducing students to books above their reading level
  • Modeling good interpretive reading
  • Teaching critical listening
  • Introducing new genres that children might not otherwise consider
  • Introducing new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales
Via Apartment Therapy

Audiobooks are also a great idea for travel during family vacations. Ditch the DVD player and allow the whole family to enjoy a story that you can later discuss. It will also help head off sibling bickering and the inevitable chorus of, “are we there yet?” Goodreads has a great list of recommended audiobooks that are great for kids.

Embrace Technology

Though parents seem more mindful of the amount of screen time that their kids get these days, it would be foolish to ignore all of the great technology that can help encourage kids to read. Imagination Soup has a long list of recommended apps that can not only help your child become a better reader, but also utilize reward systems similar to video games to motivate your children to continue to improve and master new material. Talk to you child’s teacher and find out what they are using in the classroom that you may also be able to build on at home.

Via MessforLess

Have Patience

Your child may take a while to develop a love for reading. Their resistance may be because it feels like a chore, or because they feel like they are not good at it. Continue to encourage them. Model your own love of reading. Pick up smaller, more digestible reading like magazines or even blogs on topics in which you know they have an interest. Most of all, be supportive of them in their struggles with reading. Cereal boxes, billboards, or sports scores might not seem sufficient to you, but encouraging and rewarding all reading can give a child the confidence to take on new challenges.


Danielle Hegedus is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, GA. She currently writes about home décor ideas and inspiration for Modernize.com.