When I think of sensory play, it appears my brain automatically thinks of activities that deal with touch and taste. My daughter and I have had a blast doing a lot of activities the past few weeks that do just that. However, I thought it was time that I try an activity that focused on another sense: hearing. What better way to explore this sense than with music? I think every child should be introduced to the power and thrill of music at an early age. I wanted to find some activity that would help my daughter engage in listening to and hearing music.

Mission #1: Make some toddler friendly musical instruments

I keep a box of old containers and miscellaneous odds and ends that I feel like have “potential” for some other fun project. I dug through this box looking for potential musical instruments. I also did a  little research online and came up with quite the collection. Let me introduce you to the band

On Drums: Some old plastic peanut butter cans, a chocolate cocoa powder tin, and a Quaker Oat can. Because each is made from a different material, they all make different sounds. We just used spoons for the drumsticks (half way through our rock session, my husband pointed out that spoons can be a musical instrument in.

On Tambourine and Maraca: An old pint sized waterbottle with some popcorn kernels and a paper plate sealed shut (FYI, glue works better than staples) with a few tablespoons of rice.

On Frottier: A garbage can rubbed with a  plastic thingy (I really don’t remember where this thing came from) to make an really unique percussion sound. My daughter came up with this instrument on her own. She always pulls it out of my room, empties it, and rubs her fingers against it because she likes the sound it makes. I thought it would be a great addition to our band.

And On Guitar: This ridiculously cute homemade cardboard and rubber band guitar. Someone much craftier than me came up with this amazing step by step tutorial. I spent the better part of a nap time cutting up an old diaper box (don’t start this project with kids around, it requires a lot of un-kid-friendly tools) and shaping it into this masterpiece. It is a little time intensive, but I think I will keep this guitar in my dress up box to be used over and over again, so I feel like it was worth the time and effort.

We had a great time making and playing with each instrument individually. We waited patiently for Dad to get home so we could put together the whole band.

Mission #2: Making Toddler Friendly Music together

When dad got home, he busted out our old guitar. We spent sometime jamming together and teaching my daughter how a guitar was supposed to be played. She caught on pretty quickly.

After exhausting our repertoire on the guitar (Pipeline and Jet Plane get old really fast), we decided to turn to the professionals. We put the guitar away and turned on the good old Beach Boys. All of us took turns playing the different homemade instruments to the melody of “Good Vibrations” “Surfin USA” and “Help Me Rhonda.” Oh yeah, we sounded good. Even little brother (5 months) helped by shaking the Tambourine (he’s probably gifted or something).

I am not sure any of us will ever be rock stars, but we had a rockin’ time. Mission accomplished. I would definitely recommend this for any family fun night. We plan on doing it again soon.

I found a couple of great websites that show how to make all sorts of homemade instruments so you too can have your own family band.


Homemade Musical Instruments

The Crafty Crow

What homemade instruments have you made? What sensory play activities do you do that encourage hearing?

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3 Responses to Sensory Project: Homemade Rock Band

  1. Melinda says:

    Fun, fun, fun! You are so creative! We will definitely be doing this soon! I got a big tupperware the other day and filled it up with dry pinto beans and then got some of those cheap plastic shovels and rakes for the kids and they LOVE playing in them. The get ALL OVER but they are really easy to clean up on our carpet and it entertains them for a long time.

    • Lindsay says:

      Ooh, I love that idea. Everyone seems to be into making rice sensory tables, but I feel like rice is small and can get pretty messy, especially indoors. Pinto beans would be much easier to clean up and they are a fun texture. You should post some pictures on your blog:)

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