Recycled Musical Instruments: Pinterest in Real Life

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to do a project with the kids that involved making toys out of recycling. We’ve done plenty of projects using recycled materials, including playing with cardboard boxes and making recycled rocket jet packs, and I wanted to try something different.

My son’s school had a day a few weeks ago where they were asked to make musical instruments and bring them in for a parade (oh the cuteness!!). My son made a shaker all on his own. He used a plastic egg from Easter. He put some beads in it, taped it shut and shook his little heart out. Super easy! Bonus - he did his school assignment without any help from me!

I was inspired and decided to make a few other instruments of our own with the kids.

Recycled Musical Instruments: Pinterest in Real Life from Encourage Play

It was a beautiful Spring day and we’d been playing outside for hours. They were starting to argue a bit. Sometimes when that happens, I encourage them to find a different activity. We had talked earlier in the day about making instruments and I suggested that we switch to that. They took out all the basic materials we needed (tape, markers, paper, scissors). I gathered up the materials specific for making the instruments. I decided on three instruments: a harmonica, a guitar and tambourines. I chose these instruments because we had all the materials on hand.


I decided to start with a harmonica. I just found this diy harmonica from Mess for Less and I had to try it. There was some trial and error involved, because initially the harmonica would not make any noise. Eventually, after moving things around a few times, I was able to get it to a point where it made sounds. My daughter said it sounded like a noise maker from a party.


We used an old small cardboard box and closed it up. My daughter traced a hole at the top for the neck of the guitar. I cut that out, along with a hole in the side for the sound hole of the guitar. There was a lot of writing on the box, so I decided to add white duct tape all over it. It’s quicker and easier than painting it a couple of times. I added an old cardboard paper towel tube flattened at the top for the neck. Then I added rubber bands to the front of the guitar to finish the look.

Paper plate tambourine

We have some jingle bells that the kids have been crafting with lately. I found this paper plate tambourine from She Knows on Pinterest and I had to try it. I don’t have a simple hand held hole punch (weird!), so I had the brilliant idea to poke holes in the paper plates to make it easier for us to thread the yarn through. However, I made these holes when the plates were stacked and I didn’t think about the fact that the plates would be facing each other. When the plates did face each other, the holes didn’t line up. It really didn’t matter anyway, because the child friendly needle I picked out didn’t fit through the bells. Fail! So I chose a long skinny needle and I used it myself to make the tambourines.

So, I had this great idea to make instruments with the kids, and I ended up basically making them myself. The kids still appreciated the instruments I made, and played with them for a few minutes before going to their next activity.

Even though it didn’t turn out as I imagined, we still had some fun family time outdoors. While I made the harmonica, the kids and I were sitting together, all working on our own little projects and talking about Spring. And while I made the guitar and the tambourines, they were playing tag with my husband and having a good time.  

How did you play today?

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