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Kids Crafts: How to Make an Elastic Band Harp

As a teacher at all levels and mother of five children, Bronwen has been interested in a variety of crafts for both children and adults.

You don't need many materials to make an elastic band harp

You don't need many materials to make an elastic band harp

The Elastic Band Harp

This can be a fun craft activity for the kids, and it only takes about a maximum of an hour to make.

The instrument does not require a huge number of materials, and the resultant sounds that can be created are gentle on the adults' ears as well!

In fact, if the box is wide enough to allow seven or eight elastic bands and they're stretched to a similar tension, the kids will soon be serenading you with some of their favourite tunes, if those tunes are simple enough. Maybe they'll even compose their own!

Making the harp can also be an impromptu science lesson—the tighter the elastic, the higher the note produced.

Materials Needed

  • 1 good strong cardboard box
  • 1 piece stiff cardboard
  • Clear glue suitable for cardboard
  • Craft knife (even the kitchen scissors will do)
  • Ruler
  • Pen or pencil
  • Elastic bands

Step 1: Choose a Box

The size of the box you choose may depend on the size of the elastic bands you have, as they may only stretch so far. I chose a pretty gift box I had been given.

It's probably easier for the box to be not too big and best if it is fairly strong. Mine was the kind with a lid, so I was able to put the lid upside down and put the base into it as reinforcement.

If your box has flaps, glue the undersides of the flaps and press them to the inside walls of the box and that will help to make it stronger, too.

Mark the card

Mark the card

Step 2: Make the Bridge

Like a violin, the elastic band harp needs a bridge. For this you use the sheet of strong cardboard.

It needs to be about half an inch or around one and a half centimetres wider than the width of your box. Score this that distance in from the edge on one side, and bend it at right angles, so that it is just the width of the box. You can do the scoring with the back of the knife. The extra width that is bent will be glued to the box.

  • The bridge will be on an angle, so flatten out the flap for a moment and measure from the base of the cardboard to the tallest height you will need (mine was five inches) and then rule on an angle down to the lowest height the bridge is to be. It needs to be higher than the edge of your box (mine was two and a half inches).
  • Measure up above the highest point the shorter distance (my two and a half inches) and rule straight across.
  • Cut along this straight line (as my cardboard was quite stiff, the kitchen scissors were better than the craft knife for this).
  • Cut along the angled line.

You should now have two matching pieces.

Glue both pieces

Glue both pieces

Scroll to Continue

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Bridge: Part 1

  • Place the two parts of the bridge back to back so that one flap is on the right side and the other on the left.
  • Glue the bridge pieces (but not the flaps yet) and hold in place for a moment until they are stuck together. If this is difficult, clamp together or put something heavy on top until they are stuck.

Bridge: Part 2

  • Measure along the angled edge of the bridge so that small Vs may be cut into it at equal distances.
  • The number of cuts you make will depend on the width of your bridge.

If you can make seven or eight cuts about an inch (4-5 cm) apart, that will allow for around an octave of notes and the opportunity for playing a good tune on the harp. If your box is narrow and you can only have about four elastic bands, it's surprising what little tunes can be made with these.

Make the Vs equidistant

Make the Vs equidistant

Bridge: Part 3

  • Making sure that the flaps are bent at right angles, one towards the front of the box and the other towards the back.
  • Run some glue along the flaps to the height of the box sides.
  • Push them gently into place across the width of the box and towards the back.

Hold the bridge for a moment as the flaps dry (or clip together with a clothes peg or strong paper clip).

Step 3: Complete the Harp

Make sure that the glue is dry and the bridge is firm and upright.

  • Stretch an elastic band around the box and secure it in a V.
  • Repeat with the bands until all the Vs have a band.

They need to be quite taut to get a good sound.

You may need to adjust the bands at the back of the bridge to get the notes as you want them to sound.

Note: I used different thickness of bands to see how this would work. It is not recommended. The harp works best if the bands are all the same.

The finished harp

The finished harp

© 2014 Bronwen Scott-Branagan


Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 14, 2015:

AudreyHowitt: Thank you so much! Have fun!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 14, 2015:

AudreyHowitt: Thank you so much! Have fun!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 14, 2015:

AudreyHowitt: Thank you so much! Have fun!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 14, 2015:

AudreyHowitt: Thank you so much! Have fun!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 14, 2015:

AudreyHowitt: Thank you so much! Have fun!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 14, 2015:

AudreyHowitt: Thank you so much! Have fun!

Audrey Howitt from California on April 12, 2015:

Sending this around again! Well done!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on September 10, 2014:

AudreyHowitt: The love it, and are fascinated by it. Thank you.

LadyFiddler: So true - and thanks again.

Joanna Chandler from On Planet Earth on September 10, 2014:

LOL BlosssomSB that is so true about David :)

Audrey Howitt from California on September 10, 2014:

I bet this is so much fun for kids to make! Loved it!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on September 06, 2014:

midget38: I hope they (and you) have lots of fun with this.

AliciaC: It is fun to make and can be creative for the children as well.

LadyFiddler: Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I think David's probably lasted longer than a cardboard one!

teaches12345: Yes, it can give pleasure for quite a while if the materials used are sturdy. I made them with my own children, but did not ever attempt it with a whole class as it takes quite a bit of supervision to get the varying sounds approximately right.

Dianna Mendez on September 05, 2014:

I remember these from my son's elementary years. He made one that he enjoyed for quite awhile afterwards. It is a great share for parents who want to add a bit of music and art to a craft project.

Joanna Chandler from On Planet Earth on September 05, 2014:

lol I'll have to call David to play this Harp for me......

Your hub was well defined and put together very well.

~~Keep up the good work Blossom~~

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 03, 2014:

This is a lovely craft project, Blossom. It sounds like the harp is fun to create and the result looks like a great instrument for children!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on September 03, 2014:

The little ones will love making and playing with this! Shared!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on September 03, 2014:

Jodah: Thank you. I hope your grandsons have lots of fun - and you, too.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 02, 2014:

Very good clear instructions Blossom and looks like fun. My grandson's may enjoy making one of these.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on September 01, 2014:

Frank Atanacio:It is fun, we were quite addicted to making all sorts of instruments when we were kids. Thank you for your comment.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on September 01, 2014:

Blluelotusrajeev: Thank you for your comments. It does remind us of our childhood. We made telephones with tin cans.

snerfu: thank you!

bonda: Having fun while learning is the way to go!

ChrisSp: Glad you enjoyed it - and that it might be helpful.

Hezekiah: Getting them away from that tablet can take some doing! Hope it works.

always exploring: I'm so pleased that you find my instructions easy to follow. Have fun!

MsDora: Thank you for your lovely comments.

DealforALiving: Hope it works well for you and is enjoyed. Only, don't you do the making - get the kids to help, that's half the fun.

Faith Reaper: Thank you, dear Faith. Hope you get lots of enjoyment from the activity and God bless you.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on September 01, 2014:

harp hmm.. never made one blossoms but it looks like good fun :)

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 01, 2014:

I love this idea! How clever. The big thing now is to use the small elastic bands to make bracelets. The next time we have the grands up (they just left a while ago), I will try this with them.

Thank you for sharing and giving such easy t0 follow instructions.

It will be fun to do.

Blessings always

Nick Deal from Earth on September 01, 2014:

I can't wait to make one of these for some kids I know. Thanks!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 01, 2014:

I think this is the coolest craft I've seen here. The materials are easy to find, and the finished project would be most enjoyable. Thanks for sharing.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 01, 2014:

Such a clever idea. I know kids will love this. Your instructions are always so easy to follow. Thank you...

Hezekiah from Japan on September 01, 2014:

Thanks for sharing, I love crafts especially for kids. Get them away from that tablet.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on September 01, 2014:

Very nice! I don't have kids now (grown ups) but I am certainly passing this to some fellow creative moms with little ones. I'm sure they'll appreciate this specially the ones with inclination to musical instruments.

Voted up and sharing.

Nonqaba waka Msimang from Canada on September 01, 2014:

Step by step photos are great. Kids will learn many subjects in the process. Also like recycling cardboard.

Vivian Sudhir from Madurai, India on September 01, 2014:

So fascinating, voted up.

Rajeev Kumar on September 01, 2014:

It's make me remember my childhood when we, I and my friends used to make many sort of things with papers and other materials. We had make the phone with matchbox and threads.

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful technique to bring child in you!