Loraine loves arts and crafts and used to volunteer at an elementary art class. She loves sharing fun and easy craft tutorials.
Improvised Instruments: Make Some Noise With Easy DIY Homemade Instruments for Kids!
Do you want to get kids' attention? Tell them you are going to make musical instruments. Not only will they want to make (or help make) the improvised instruments, but they'll also love playing them! You'll find a nice variety of homemade instruments in this article, and many are pretty simple and easy to make.
1. Plastic Easter Egg Maracas
I have a little two-year-old granddaughter who loves to dance and make noise. I'm sure she would love these maracas. These bright and beautiful maracas are made using colorful plastic eggs.
- Plastic Easter eggs
- Plastic spoons
- White tape
- Popcorn kernels
- Fill the eggs with popcorn kernels.
- Tape two plastic spoons on either side.
- Tape the spoon ends together.
- Decorate the tape with markers.
Find the complete step-by-step tutorial and visual guide at MADE EVERYDAY.
2. Floppy Disc Percussion Instrument
This craft is a modern version of a Japanese instrument called a kokiriko or bin zasara made of rope and wood.
When you go to Instructables Living for the tutorial to make this instrument, you'll also find a video that allows you to hear what it sounds like. It's an unconventional and fun percussive instrument that is super fun for kids to play with.
3. Ribbon Spool Spin Drums
The directions for these pretty spin drums can be found at julep. This is a fun activity for a child's birthday party—a cute project that also serves as a party favor. It's also a great way to reuse old ribbon spools.
This craft requires a bit of prep work, so be sure to check out the directions well in advance so you'll know what you need to do.
4. Japanese Pellet Drums With Wooden Spoons
Music is made with these den den drums, or Japanese pellet drums, when the wooden stem is rolled between the hands, causing the beads to strike the heads of the drum. For the tutorial on making these drums, go to LEARNING 4 KIDS.
Read More From Feltmagnet
- Wooden spoons
- Thread or string
- Drill two small holes in the middle of the spoon head.
- Thread the string through one of the holes and tie a knot.
- Thread the beads onto the string, tie another knot at the end, and cut off any excess string.
- Repeat the previous steps for the other side of the spoon.
5. Balloon Skin Drums
What could be easier than making drums using tin cans and a balloon? It's a very simple yet effective musical instrument that the kids can make themselves. Find the instructions on making this attractive drum at make and takes.
- Small tin cans
- Paint and brush
- Craft or hot glue
- Wash, dry, and remove labels from the tin cans.
- Paint can and/or decorate as desired.
- Cut the balloon and stretch it over the tin can's opening.
- Add ribbon to the seam of the balloon to help seal it in place and for decoration.
6. Bell Shakers
Although there are other instruments included with the bell shakers, I really like those. Visit hellobee to find the instructions for how to make these bell shakers.
Keep in mind that there is a bit of prep work involved (sawing, sandpapering, etc.), so it's not quite as simple as most of the other crafts here.
7. Popsicle Stick Harmonica
This is a nice homemade musical instrument for the kids to make and enjoy making music with. I think this is a more advanced version of the comb and waxed paper of my youth.
- 2 popsicle sticks
- 2 rubber bands
- 2 toothpicks cut the width of the popsicle stick
- Paper (popsicle-sized strip)
- Place paper strip between popsicle sticks.
- Wrap a rubber band snugly around one end.
- Place a toothpick inside the rubber band.
- Put the other toothpick at the other end of the popsicle sticks and wrap it with the other rubber band.
You can find the full tutorial and images on the Housing a Forest blog.
8. Paper Plate Tambourine
Now this is an instrument I'd probably be able to master. I like it because it makes lots of noise. Find the instructions for making the tambourine at All Kids NETWORK.
- Small paper plate
- Markers, stickers, etc. (decorations)
- Jingle bells
- Hole punch or pencil
- Have your child decorate the back of the paper plate.
- Cut sections of yarn 3 inches long (as many sections of yarn as bells you'd like to use).
- Thread each jingle bell onto a piece of yarn.
- Use a hole punch or pencil to cut holes around the edge of the plate.
- Tie the jingle bells to the holes on the plate and cut off the excess yarn.
9. Jingle Bell Bracelet or Ankle Bells
10. Super Simple Ankle Bells
Doesn't this look like a party ready to start? This would make a great activity for the kids at a birthday party. This is an effortless and straightforward project that is sure to bring kids tons of enjoyment. You need very few materials to make these ankle bells. Make ankle (or wrist) bells by following the instructions at Rainy Day Mum and then sing and dance up a storm.
11. Paper Plate Cymbals
Small coins or washers are glued to the edges of the painted plate to make the music with these cymbals. The end result of this craft looks pretty fancy for very little effort, and kids are sure to love it! Go to first palette for the directions for making the cymbals.
12. Balloon Bongo
As you'll see, this is really a three-in-one instrument. Every kid will love this noisemaker. Oops, sorry, music maker.
- Emptied and cleaned tin cans
- Rice or lentils
- Elastic bands
- Sticks or chopsticks
- Put a handful of rice or lentils into an empty can.
- Cut the end off the balloon and stretch over the edge of the can.
- Place the elastic band over the end of the can to secure the balloon.
- The sticks or chopsticks are optional (to be used as drumsticks).
You can find the complete tutorial for these balloon bongo drums at Minieco.co.uk.
13. Cardboard Guitar
Granted, this may take longer to make than many of the homemade music instruments here, but it really looks like the real deal. Kids will feel like rockstars, and the guitar can be made with supplies you can find around the house or in the garage. There is a great picture tutorial at Make It & Love It that will make the process simple.
14. Fabric and Stick Jingle Stick and Jingle Ring
You can make a jingle stick or a jingle ring (or both of them) when you follow the instructions found at Buggy and Buddy. This recipe uses random scraps of fabric, sticks or grapevine leaves, and jingle bells for a lovely kids' craft. Once you have your supplies together, the jingles will come together quickly.
15. Garden Hose Trumpet or Bugle
It'll be easy to make this horn when you follow the instructions given at Instructables. This instrument can be played like an actual trumpet, although it doesn't have any valves. You can have a whole orchestra when you include a horn!
16. Tom-Tom Drum
17. Egg Carton Maracas
It's really nice when we can teach about recycling while having fun making musical instruments. That's what we can do when following the instructions at Artsy Momma and using egg cartons for the maracas. Glitter and sequins make this craft fun and exciting for kids who love to experiment with art.
18. Cardboard Rain Stick
Rain sticks, or rain makers, are a fun and creative craft—these actually sound like falling rain! There's no limit to the ways a rain stick can be decorated, so when you are finished making your rain stick following the instructions at the imagination tree, then go to town with all the colors and bling.
19. Singing Straws
Did you know that you could make music by blowing on straws? The different lengths of the straws make different tones.
- 6–8 straws
- Sticky tape
- Colored paper (optional)
- Cut the straws into different lengths in groups of two.
- Cut a long piece of sticky tape and place the straws on the sticky side in twos, arranging them from shortest to longest.
- Secure in place with additional tape.
- Decorate with colored paper (optional).
Find the complete step-by-step tutorial at KROKOTAK.
20. Bobby Pin Mbira or Thumb Piano
I have to admit that this is the first time I've ever heard of a thumb piano. According to ALINA’S ADVENTURES, where you'll find the tutorial, the thumb piano has its background in indigenous African music.
Mbira are traditional Zimbabwean musical instruments that are both percussive and chime-like. Find a video on the site also that gives you a sample of the thumb piano music.
21. Easy Wrist Bells
These wrist bells are made really well and will last for a long time. These would be nice to give as a gift to a child who loves to make music and dance. The tutorial at Skip to my Lou is incredibly in depth with lots of high-quality photos.
22. Plastic Panpipe or Pan Flute
This instrument called a panpipe or pan flute is made using plastic pipe. The author says that her pan flute works as well, if not better than her purchased bamboo one. She says it has volume and a lovely tone. Find all the information you need to make this musical instrument at Musical Magic.
23. Roasting Pan Chinese Gong
When the kids hear that this musical instrument—a circular, metal percussive instrument—is called a Chinese gong, they'll be all ready to make one like it. You'll find the instructions for this project at KinderART. It's easy to make with items you have on hand, including a metal roasting pan and pipecleaners.
24. Cardboard Tubular Bells
Be sure to save your paper tubes so you'll have enough of them when you start making musical instruments. Everyone in the family will want to be part of this band.
- Cardboard tube
- Needle and thread
- Pierce holes at regular intervals around the outside of the cardboard tube.
- Use the needle and thread to sew the bells to the tube.
Follow the tutorial at Minieco.co.uk to make these tubular bells instruments.
25. Paper Towel Roll Rainbow Shakers
Imagine all the fun this project will be. First, there's the painting of the paper towel rolls, then adding the beans, rice, or whatever, and then playing music.
- Empty paper towels rolls
- Dried grains or beans
- Tape up one end of the paper towel roll.
- Fill the roll with dried grains or beans (about one cup).
- Tape up the other end of the paper towel roll.
- Paint the roll.
Visit Views From My Window for the complete tutorial.
26. Water Pipe Trombone
Here is another interesting musical instrument to make. You'll find the tutorial at Musical Magic. You'll see that it is an easy project and one that gives good sound. To make the trombone, you'll use hot and cold water pipes and a plastic funnel. There's a little more to making this trombone, but you'll be pleased with the results.
27. Cardboard Didgeridoo
Find out how to make a cardboard tube version of this unusual and ancient musical instrument that the Aborigine people played. The complete instructions are found at Kool Kids Crafts.
Go to Education.com to find the directions for these castanets, and then try for your version of a flamenco dance. You will need to create an account on the site to download the activity tutorial.
29. Crafty Tambourine Stick
Make a really inexpensive musical instrument using craft sticks or a y-shaped tree branch, a wire or a wire coathanger, and some bottle caps. You'll also need a glue gun. This craft takes about 30 minutes and is recommended for kids ages six and up. You can follow the instructions at Think Play Create.
30. Jar Lid Mini Banjo
You'll want to start saving jar lids so you can make this little mini banjo for yourself and your friends—it's an excellent way to recycle something everyone has plenty of and repurpose your old lids for children's enjoyment. The Craft Train shares their tutorial.
31. Pringles Hand Drum
Repurposed materials, balloons, beads, ribbons, tape—this craft has lots of fun materials, and the end result is a stunning and entertaining drum that children will love. Find the directions for this beautiful hand drum on the Moms and Crafters blog.
32. Tin Can Howler
33. DIY Cardboard Guitar
There's nothing kids love more than playing guitar, or at least pretending to! I like how this guitar is decorated. This project takes a long time, but the result is worth it! For all the information needed to make this project, go to Pink Stripey Socks.
34. Boho-Inspired Embroidery Hoop Tambourine
I can imagine this would be a great activity for a girl's birthday party or slumber party. This tambourine is a cute and elegant craft that children will love. A Bubbly Life is where you'll find the instructions for making this tambourine.
35. Frisbee Mini Harp
Here is a new use for a frisbee. To make a mini harp like this one, follow the directions given at Instructables. The blog has a step-by-step photo tutorial and product recommendations that will help you create this craft to the best of your ability.
36. Pringles Can Drums
This is a two-fold great project. First, you get to eat all the Pringles, and then make a set of drums so you can march.
- 7 empty Pringles cans (with lids)
- Duct tape
- Place six empty Pringles cans in a circle around the seventh can.
- Duct tape the cans together.
- Measure and use duct tape to create a strap for the drum.
The Taylor House has the instructions.
37. DIY Shofar or Horn
Be sure to read the introduction to this project; it helps to understand this musical instrument's history. It's an instrument traditionally made from a hollowed-out ram's horn used by ancient Jews for religious purposes. In modern times, it's used during Rosh Hashana and at the end of Yom Kippur. Go to Hearing Shofar for this interesting horn tutorial.
38. Straw Zamponas or Panpipes
An interesting fact I learned when I found this tutorial is that this unique musical instrument has a history in the Andes Mountains of South America.
- Small, sturdy cardboard piece
- Transparent tape
- Small piece of ribbon (optional)
- Cut a sturdy piece of cardboard into a 6–8-inch piece.
- Cut different lengths of straws and attach them to the cardboard with the transparent tape. Arrange them from longest to shortest, leaving about an inch between straws.
- Tape on the ribbon for decoration (optional).
You can find a more in-depth tutorial on the Kinderart blog.
39. Glass Sound Jars
This is a great preschool project. Little kids get sight and hearing lessons through these sound jars by guessing what kind of sounds different objects will make in glass jars. It's a simple and fun project sure to keep little ones entertained!
40. Tin Can Music Makers
Get the whole family involved in making and then playing music with these music makers. These tin can music makers are shakers filled with rice or other dried foods that make fun noises. Instructions are found at Learning 4 Kids.