Got Movement?

Kid's Magazine Bloomington-Normal  - Summer 2011
Jyl Waller

Every child marches to a different beat.

Encouraging our children to express themselves through music and movement provides them with an outlet for creative energy. In addition to being a fun event for families, musical activities also help develop areas of the brain involved in language and reasoning. It’s important to expose children to a wide variety of tastes, smells, textures, colors and sounds because researchers believe such a rich sensory environment actually forges more pathways between the cells in their brains. Before speaking words, babies practice the sounds, intonations and rhythms of language. Some children will hum a tune before they speak!  Because research has shown that kids who are actively involved in music will do better in school, play better with others and are more able to focus and control their bodies, let’s jam!

Cardboard Guitars. You will need an empty tissue box, rubber bands, a paper towel roll, glue, a pencil and paint. Place the tissue box short-side up with the tissue slot facing you. Stand the cardboard paper towel roll on top of the box and trace around it. Cut out the traced circle and insert the tube into the hole. Glue the tub in place and let your child paint the guitar to their liking. Next, stretch several rubber bands lengthwise around the box over the tissue slot (rubber bands of assorted widths will produce different sounds!) Finally, roll a pencil under the rubber bands on the side opposite the guitar’s neck and your child is ready to rock!

Maracas. Be sure shakers are sealed tightly or you’ll have a mess on your hands! You can use plastic eggs filled with rice or beans, and tape them closed. Or, you can fill plastic water bottles with rice or bells and super glue the lid closed. For a different type of maraca, you can take two paper plates and staple them together at the edges, leaving a 2-inch opening to fill the maraca with rice or beans. After filling the maracas, finish stapling the plates together and let your kids decorate their new instruments!

Tambourines.  Using two heavy-duty plastic plates, put them together and punch 10 evenly distributed holes around the edges. Thread yarn through the holes, and tie them together, leaving about three inches of yarn at the end. Next, tie on jingle bells and let your kids decorate the plates with glue, glitter, construction paper or stickers and they’re ready to go!

Kazoos. Let your kids paint a toilet paper roll in any combination of colors they choose! Next, cut a circle from a piece of wax paper, about 5-6 inches in diameter. Once the paint has dried, wrap the wax paper around one end of the toilet paper roll and secure it with a rubber band and voila!

Tin Can Xylophone. Make sure there are no sharp edges to avoid cuts on little hands! Gather various sizes of empty tin cans and rubber bands. Put a rubber band around two cans and continue to add more from there, securing with more rubber bands as needed. To make music, hit the cans with the rubber ends of pencils.

Drums. Using a coffee can as your drum, cut a piece of construction paper to fit around the can and let your child decorate it as they see fit. Next, tape or glue the construction paper onto the can. Take a paper bag, and cut a circle out of it, about two inches bigger than the can lid. Crumple up the circle in your hands to soften and wrinkle it to make it look like old leather. Put the lid on the can, squeeze a few drops of glue onto the lid and place the circle over the lid, securing with a rubber band. Now, use pens and pencils as drum sticks and go to town!

Streamers. Armed with a paper towel roll, tacky glue, scissors, three rolls of ribbon (red, white and blue for example), a roll or striped ribbon in similar colors, a hole punch and a measuring tape, your kids will soon be dancing around the house and yard! Wrap the striped ribbon around the paper towel roll, gluing it down as you work. After the glue has dried, punch 9 holes in the bottom of the paper towel roll. Cut three, 46-inch strips of each type of ribbon. Next, tie a knot in the top of each strip of ribbon and pull each of the strips through the holes so the knots are on the inside and you have a streamer!

When your family’s instruments are finished, create your child’s own songbook with clipart, using the lyrics to familiar sing-along songs. Now, your family is ready to play music, sing and dance the day away! Who needs Guitar Hero or Rock Band when you’ve got your very own garage band?

Additional information about homemade instruments can be found at

Additional information about sing-along songs can be found at


View full article in The Kid's Magazine of Bloomington-Normal (PDF).