Make Musical Instruments

Musical Arts and Crafts

With children's affinity for music and children's love of arts and crafts, the activity of making musical instruments is a natural winner! There are literally thousands of "how to make musical instruments" instructions, videos, ideas, innovations, and step-by-step guides available for free on the Internet, including entire websites dedicated to the topic using everyday materials to make music. Alternatively, take the daycare on a field trip to the library to check out scores of books on making simple, easy, and fun musical instruments of all kinds.

Benefits of Making Musical Instruments

Music has a long list of beneficial effects on children, whether they are just listening or actively participating in singing, dancing, clapping, counting, or shake-shaky-shaking. Not only do children love to touch and try out musical instruments, but through this act hidden talents often emerge and new parts of children's personalities are revealed. As kids tap to the beat of the music, they tap into a deeper part of themselves which shines through.

Types of Homemade Musical Instruments

With some very basic materials and a large helping of creativity, there is almost no end to the variations of musical instruments you can make from scratch. Some of the most popular do-it-yourself musical instruments include: tambourines, maracas, trumpets, box guitars, drums, kazoos, flutes, shakers, chimes, horns, cymbals, xylophones, and many more.

How to Make Musical Instruments

Below are some instructions for making musical instruments. For a closing activity, form a marching daycare band featuring children and their favorite musical creations. Kids and staff alike will enjoy hours of fun jamming to the kids' favorite tunes.



  • Two heavy-duty paper plates
  • Hole-puncher
  • Stapler or glue
  • String
  • Crayons, stickers, curling ribbon (optional)
  • Little Bells

Staple/glue two paper plates together face to face. Using a hole-puncher, make holes around the plate edges, using string to tie bells to the holes. In the same holes, tie on pieces of curling ribbon and curl with scissors. Decorate as desired and shake to play.



  • Empty paper towel roll
  • Wax paper
  • Pen
  • Rubber band

Cover one end of the paper towel roll with waxed paper and secure with a rubber band. Using a pen tip, punch a row of holes along one side of the paper towel roll. To play, belt out a tune into the open end of the horn. (Decorate horn as desired)


The simplest way to make cymbals is to strike together two same-sized pot covers. To decorate, tie a piece of curling ribbon to the pot handles.



  • Mixing spoon
  • Several tall glasses or jars
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)

Fill the glasses/jars with varying amounts of water and arrange in increasing/decreasing order. To play, gently strike glasses/jars with the mixing spoon, noting that less water produces higher pitches and more water produces lower pitches. For a decorative effect, add a few drops of food coloring into the water, using a different color for each glass/jar.

Box Guitar


  • Rubber bands
  • Empty shoe box
  • Ruler or stick

Stretch rubber bands around an open shoe box, attaching a ruler/stick to the back of the box to use as the arm of the guitar. Strum or pluck the rubber bands to play. 


Using various sized bottles (to produce different sounds), fill each bottle about a quarter of the way with rice or dried beans/lentils. Secure lids tightly and shake away!

Wrist Jangles

This simple and fun musical instrument is perfect for younger daycare children, who will love marching, jumping, and skipping to the sound of musical bells. String bells onto a piece of ribbon 6-8 inches in length, tying knots between the bells. Loosely secure to a child's wrist.

Finally, to decorate homemade musical instruments, keep a supply of basic arts-and-crafts materials on hand, and don't forget to have a camera standing by to preserve the final products for eternity!