How to Make an Instrument for a School Project

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School children in the early grades are often asked to make musical instruments as part of units on music or science. In music the objective in making instruments is usually focused on creativity, while in science the objective of the lesson may be concentrated on how sounds are made. In either case, your child can make his instrument for a school project out of materials that he probably already has at home with just a little time and the use of his imagination.


    Lay one paper plate face up and another paper plate upside down on top of the first.

    Match the edges of the paper plates up and staple around the edges of the paper plates, leaving a half-inch space on the top unstapled.

    Pour a half-cup of dried beans or dried peas into the half-inch opening then staple the opening on the paper plates shut.

    Paint the outside of the paper plate maracas with acrylic paints and a paintbrush or color them with crayons.

    Cut six strips of construction paper, half-inch wide and about one foot long and staple one end of each strip to the bottom of the paper plates for streamers.


    Peel the wrapper off a large cardboard oatmeal container.

    Paint the outside of the container with acrylic paints and a paintbrush.

    Ensure the plastic lid for the oatmeal container is attached to the top of the container.

    Cut two half-inch thick dowel rods with a hack saw so that the dowel rods are one foot long. This is for parents only! Sand the ends as needed with a fine grain 150 to 180 grit sandpaper. These are your drumsticks.


    Mark around the edges of a paper plate every one-inch using a pencil. Make your marks about half-inch in from the edge.

    Punch holes on each mark around the edge of the plate with a hole punch.

    Insert a four-inch piece of string through the bottom of a jingle bell, then insert one of the ends of the string through a hole on the edge of the plate, knotting both ends of the string together on the plate. Attach one jingle bell to each hole punch on the edge of the plate in this manner until all of the holes have a jingle bell attached.

    Paint or color the plate as desired.

    Things You'll Need

    • Paper plates
    • Stapler
    • Staples
    • Measuring tape
    • Dried beans or peas
    • Acrylic paints
    • Paintbrush
    • Crayons
    • Construction paper
    • Oatmeal container
    • Plastic lid
    • ½-inch dowel rods
    • Hack saw
    • Sandpaper
    • Hole punch
    • String
    • Jingle bells


    • Hack saws are sharp instruments that are dangerous for children and should only be used by parents when completing projects. If you are a student making an instrument for school, ask your parent to assist you when tools such as hack saws are required.

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