Easy-to-Make Musical Instruments for Kids

Easy-to-Make Musical Instruments for Kids

Music can provide children with cognitive and motor skills to help them thrive.  From listening to a variety of different musical styles to practicing an instrument, music helps children (and adults) interact with the world around them by making connections to culture, language, friends, and community.  Musical exploration is also a terrific way to spark creativity.  The discovery can start before even playing a note.  Making instruments, at home or in the classroom, is a fun and inexpensive way to get kids excited about musical learning.



-can/container with lid

-paint, crayons, or markers

-optional: construction paper and stickers


Chances are you already have all the materials you need to make this instrument at home.  Start with an empty coffee can, oatmeal container, or any hollow container with a lid.  You can decorate your drum with paint or by simply taping construction paper to the container and adding stickers to give it your own personal flair. If you don’t have these materials on hand, you can simply use pots and pans turned upside down!

Playing the instrument:

The drum can be played by setting the instrument on the ground and using your hand or a wooden spoon to tap out beats. Try having children play the drum while it is lifted off of the ground (perhaps holding it between their legs) to compare the different sounds and volume the drum produces in different positions. Additionally, you can tap out beats and have children mimic the rhythm that you create.  You can take turns repeating back the songs that you produce.


Xylophone (pictured above)


water glasses or mason jars



-food coloring


Simply add various levels of water to glasses of different shapes and sizes.  For extra fun, add a few drops of food coloring to the glasses.

Playing the instrument:

Water glasses can be placed in a sequence from most full to least full.  Have children gently tap glasses with a spoon and listen for differences in sounds.  Help children make observations about which glasses make the “lowest” sounds and which ones make the “highest” sounds.  You can experiment with different water levels and even record or graph your findings.




-for the container options include plastic eggs, toilet paper tubes, paper cups, plastic or wooden spoons

-for fillers you can use dry beans, rice, or macaroni, coins, paper clips


Maracas can be as simple or detailed as you would like.  The basic idea is to have an enclosed object that can hold small objects like dry beans, rice, or coins to make a fun rhythmic sound when shaken. With objects such as toilet paper tubes or paper cups, simply tape a piece of paper over the opening with the small objects inside. Decorate with paint, markers, stickers, or even glitter! Attach spoons to create a handle.

Playing the Instrument:

Shake! Shake! Shake! Kids can have fun shaking maracas along to their favorite song, or practicing making rhythmic beats. Try making a few different versions with a variety of fillings to compare sounds and weight of the instrument.

You can also check out this video to see how some amazing kids turn trash into musical instruments!


Text: © Kids In Transition to School 2019

Image: © Kids In Transition to School 2019

Alice Viles
Alice Viles is a part of the Clinical Implementation team for the KITS program. She has years of experience working with children both in the classroom and clinically. Growing up in a bilingual and multicultural home, Alice has a passion for connecting with culturally diverse families while promoting equity within her community. In her free time, Alice enjoys discovering beautifully illustrated children’s books, vocal ensembles, and having impromptu dance parties in her kitchen with her family.


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