Make Some Noise! Homemade Instruments for Kids and Music Therapy
Music therapy is a valuable part of many therapy programs. There is evidence that shows music to have many benefits for those struggling with speech and communication challenges, so bringing more music and rhythm into the classroom, therapy room, and home can be one more option for improving these skills. Whether you are looking to create some homemade music instruments for music therapy to save money, or because you have a child like mine who loves the creating part of the process as much as anything else, try some of these easy homemade instruments for kids that are great for music therapy – and for playtime.
Making Homemade Instruments for Kids – With the Kids
A favorite in my house, this easy craft requires 3 basic supplies:
- 2 matching spoons (we hit the thrift store and came back with 3 sets for less than a $1)
- 1 clothespin (the kind with the spring)
- Masking or painter’s tape
Take one spoon and place it on a table face down. Place the clothespin on the back of the spoon handle with the pinching part of the clothespin facing toward the end of the spoon you would hold when eating. Place the 2nd spoon over this, right side up. You should have a spoon sandwich with the clothespin in the middle. The clothespin acts as the spacer, making it easier for kids than trying to keep their finger balanced between the two spoons (like shown in the picture below). Wrap tape around the very base of the spoon handles to keep your sandwich together. You’re ready to play the spoons – and the kids get permission to play with their silverware!
Counting out the beat and keeping rhythm is just one useful aspect of using music to improve communication, reading, and speaking skills. Help kids create their own custom clapping sticks just by visiting the hardware section of your local general store. Supplies needed include:
- 2 – 8 wooden stir sticks for paint (you can glue 2, 3, or 4 together to get different sounds)
- Wood glue
- Paint (for decorating the sticks)
Your child can paint 2 sticks to use as clapping sticks or first glue 2, 3, or 4 together for thicker clapping sticks. If you choose to glue several together with wood glue, wait a day or so and then have your child paint and decorate the sticks.
This is a wonderful instrument for music therapy or just as a sensory tool, and the supplies are fairly minimal, including:
- An empty plastic soda bottle with lid (or another type of narrow plastic bottle you can easily rinse and dry)
- Rice or sand
- Toothpicks (50-150 depending on the size of your bottle)
- Approximately 20-30 wooden shish kebob skewers (if you’re using a large soda bottle you can even use craft sticks)
Take your plastic bottle and thoroughly clean it, then let it dry completely (tip – to get bottles to dry more quickly, use a hair dryer set on cool to blow air into the bottle). Add in your toothpicks and skewers, but break them into randomly sized pieces first. Pour the sand or rice into the bottle. Screw the cap back on, sealing it with permanent glue or wrapping the top with strong tape (packing/duct) to secure the cap. Slowly tip the bottle back and forth to hear the contents pour through the bottle – and instant rain shower! Kids love to use these as gentle tambourines, too.
More Easy Homemade Instruments for Kids You Can Make Together
- Rubber bands stretched the short way over empty shoe boxes make for great instant mini-guitars. Different sizes of rubber bands will make different sounds.
- Glasses or jars filled with varying levels of water can be tapped gently with a metal spoon to make music.
- This comprehensive PDF from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra demonstrates how to make a whole ensemble of homemade instruments.
- Giant balloons from the dollar store (the punching ball kind) can be stretched over empty coffee cans and secured with rubber bands to make instant bongos.
- These easy noisemakers from Martha Stewart only require buttons, a craft stick, cardboard, twine, and a few household tools.
- Paper towel tubes can be filled with dried beans or rice for instant shakers. Use duct tape to seal the ends securely. Kids can decorate them with stickers or markers.
- These easy instructions demonstrate how to make a homemade trumpet with just a few household supplies.
- Two paper plates turned toward each other make great tambourines. Just fill the space with dried beans and staple the edges of the plates securely, creating a dome in which the beans can shake.
- Two plastic spoons can nestle a plastic Easter egg that is filled with beans or rice and be taped together to form this simple but realistic sounding maraca!
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perhaps music is in the ear of the maker. Children seem to be drawn to making noise, so why not help them create some homemade instruments for kids they can use as a part of speech or language therapy – or even just to make a little music to their ears.