Making musical instruments as part of a school project is a great way to learn about different types of instruments and what makes them unique. You can re-create at home a wide variety of instruments from different cultures. Often, you can use materials commonly found around the house, which keeps the cost of the project low.
The rain stick is a traditional Native American instrument that simulates the sound of rain. To make one, you will need an empty paper towel tube, heavy-duty aluminum foil, two rubber bands, dried beans, and painting supplies.
First, paint the tube any way you want, and allow time for the paint to dry.
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Cover one end of the tube with a square of aluminum foil and secure it with one of the rubber bands. Take three or four smaller pieces of aluminum foil and crunch them up into loose balls. They need to be small enough to fit in the tube, but large enough to not slide back and forth in the tube. Put the aluminum foil balls inside the tube and then fill the tube approximately 1/4 full with the dry beans. Cover the other end of the tube with another piece of aluminum foil and secure it with the second rubber band.
When you slowly turn the tube upside down, the beans falling through the foil will sound like rain.
Maracas can be made in a variety of ways with a wide variety of different materials. One method is to fill a 20-ounce plastic bottle 1/4 full with rice or beans. Put a dab or glue inside the cap and then screw the cap into place. Paint the outside of the bottle, so you can not see what is inside. Once the paint is dry you can use it as a maraca.
Another method is by filling a disposable cup half-way with dried beans or rice. Then place a second disposable cup upside down on the first, so the tops of the cups are pressed together. Wrap masking tape around the middle to secure the two cups to each other. Then decorate the outside of the cups with paint or markers.
To make a tambourine, take two plastic disposable plates and staple them together, so that the side you eat on is facing in. Then go around the outside edge of the two plates and punch a hole approximately every inch. Use twist ties to attach a jingle bell to every hole. For added sound, you can place dried beans between the two plates before you staple them together.
To make castanets, you will need cardboard, scissors, glue, markers or paints and two metal bottle caps. Cut the cardboard in a strip so that it is the same length as the distance from the end of your thumb to the end of your pointer finger. Use either the paints or markers to decorate the cardboard. Glue one bottle cap to the each end of the cardboard, but on the same side, so the bottle caps are facing the same direction.
Crease the cardboard strip in the middle and fold it in half, so the bottle caps are facing each other. When you hold the cardboard between your thumb and pointer finger, you will be able to make the bottle caps hit each other by tapping your fingers together.