Music is a great way to have fun with and teach children at the same time. Songs help us learn otherwise complicated things, like the alphabet. Musical instruments help us develop hand-eye coordination, learn about our senses and about cause and effect. Homemade instruments take it a step further by helping children feel a sense of accomplishment when they complete their instrument. For young children a good first instrument is a shaker drum.
For very young children and toddlers, a plastic egg shaker is a good start. Have children open the eggs. Ask the children to put uncooked rice in one egg, uncooked beans in another egg and small stones in a third egg. Have the children shake all of the eggs and compare the sounds that each egg makes. Try adding different amounts of rice, beans and stones to the eggs, and ask the children to identify the difference in the sound.
For children in grade school, try a more complicated plastic shaker. Find containers with a lid, plastic or metal. Look for coffee cans, ice cream containers, or any other washable and sealable container. If you can't find a sealable container, tape two plastic cups together. Add beads, uncooked rice, beans or stones to the container and seal it. Ask the children to decorate the outside of the shaker with stickers, colored paper or ribbons.
For adolescents, a paper-mache shaker can be loads of fun. To make the shaker, pick an item that you want to form the paper-mache around, make it something that can be cut in half, like an apple. Paper-mache the item and let dry. After it is dry, cut the item in half and fill the paper-mache shell with beads, beans or rice. Seal the shell back together with masking tape and a second layer of paper-mache. When it is dry, decorate it.
Dried gourds make a fun craft for children or adults. After a gourd is dry and clean, cut the stem of the gourd to make an opening for your shaker material. Fill the gourd with your desired material, beads, rice, beans or gravel. Fit a stick or wooden dowel into the hole of the gourd. It might take some sanding or carving. Glue the stick into the opening or the gourd with wood glue. Decorate the shaker with paint, ribbons or markers.
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