Site Overview . Chuck Vanderchuck | PBS Parents

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Instruments & Their Sounds Activity #1
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Help your child understand that music can be made with everyday objects. Make an instrument with your child using things you might find in and around your home.


  • Coffee can with lid, tall potato chip container with lid, or a paper towel roll
  • Any variety of dried beans or rice
  • Other possible materials include crayons, construction paper, scissors, masking


Depending on the materials you have handy, you can make a variety of different instruments.

  • If you’re starting with a coffee can or tall potato chip container, you can make a drum or a shaker. Cut a piece of construction paper to fit around the can. Before attaching it to the can, let your child decorate the paper. Tape the paper around the can. You can attach the lid to make a drum, or you can partially fill the container with beans or rice to make a shaker.
  • If you’re starting with a paper towel roll, use masking tape to cover one end of the roll. Make sure it is sealed tightly. Cut a piece of construction paper to fit the roll. Before attaching it, have your child decorate it. Tape the construction paper to the roll. Pour about a half cup of rice into the roll. Seal the top completely with masking tape to make a shaker/rain maker. Play a song or sing one while your child uses the new instrument to play along!

Take it Further

  • When listening to music with your child, help her identify the specific instruments being played. For instance, you might ask “Do you hear the piano?” or “Is a violin being played?” Talk with your child about the different sounds being heard and which instruments are used.
  • Play a song where a particular instrument is used to convey a mood or feeling. Ask your child to identify this feeling as well as the specific instrument being played.

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