These homemade instruments have stood up to more than a month of heavy toddler use and abuse.
Not all homemade instruments can handle use by an energetic toddler. Toddlers do not know concepts like “be careful” and “don’t stand on that,” so their toys get put through the ringer. These homemade instruments have seen some things, and they’re still intact.
Earlier this summer, my three-year-old went to a super magical music camp. He is obsessed with drums right now, so a week of music-themed fun seemed like the perfect activity for him. On top of learning about different types of music, dance, and musical instruments, they also created their own homemade instruments from recycled materials.
He brought home four different instruments from camp, and the three homemade instruments pictured here are the ones that have withstood over a month of heavy use and abuse at the hands of my toddler.
Before we get to the instruments that worked, let’s talk about the one that didn’t. It was a cool, homemade rain stick, made from a paper towel tube. They decorated the tube, filled it with dried peas, and closed off the ends with paper and rubber bands. Guys. Within 45 minutes of getting it home, I was cursing and sweeping up dried peas in my back hallway.
But these three homemade instruments have worked like gangbusters, despite my music-obsessed three-year-old using and abusing them daily.
1. Sand Blocks
These are made from sanded pieces of scrap wood that the teachers sanded in advance. The kids decorated their blocks with paint, and the teachers used superglue to attach pieces of sandpaper to one side of each block. The “handles” are the lids from those fruit squeeze packs that you know you’ve bought even though you hate how wasteful they are. They’re superglued on, too.
I actually saw a tute for making these on Reading Rainbow a few days after my son brought this homemade instrument home, which is how I figured out what these were! Cut two pieces of cardboard to 1″ by about 2.5″, and let the kids decorate. Then, superglue on bottlecaps or big buttons. Fold in half (bottle cap-side-in) and let them clack away. My kid says, “It sounds like snapping!”
I was sure that this DIY tambourine would not hold up, but this is by far my son’s favorite of the three, and it has lasted through hours of intense shaking. Grab an old embroidery hoop for your kid to decorate, then use a pipe cleaner to attach a big jingle bell to the top.