Recycled Musical Instruments for Kids


Crafting recycled musical instruments for kids is a way to reuse old packaging materials. According to the EPA, Americans produced 243 million tons of garbage in 2009. That equals 4.3 pounds of waste for one individual a day. Repurposing materials that are normally thrown away reduces landfills and provides an inexpensive craft project for children. Choose kids recycled musical instrument crafts for young children, to learn about other cultures, to teach the science of sound and to give as gifts.

Young Children

  • Young children may fill used brown paper lunch bags with dry rice or beans. Tie the bags with leftover ribbon or string. Shake the maracas to produce the sound. Children may also fill the bags with old buttons, marbles or bottle caps to get different sounds. Children may also create tambourines with two used aluminum pie pans, taken from frozen pie crusts. Glue them together so the front sides are facing each other. Punch out holes about 2-inches apart around the rim of the pans. Tie bells into each hole with yarn.

Other Cultures

  • Construct a didgeridoo from two cardboard paper towel rolls to learn about Australian Aboriginal culture. Tape the rolls together so they become one long roll. Paint or decorate the roll with Australian Aboriginal symbols. Use your mouth to make musical sounds. Craft African drums with old oatmeal containers or coffee cans. Glue construction paper around the outside of the container. Provide paints, stickers or other decorations for the paper on the exterior of the container. Glue the lid down and drum on it to get a sound.

Science of Sounds

  • Children can learn about the science of sound by creating guitars from old shoe boxes. Stretch five rubber bands around the box so they are approximately 2-inches apart. Experiment with different size rubber bands to make different sounds. Ask children to guess which strings will be deeper and which will be higher in tone. Another project about the science of sound uses five glass bottles to craft a xylophone. Fill the cleaned-out bottles with different amounts of water and tap them with metal spoon to hear the sounds. Experiment with the levels of liquid to create specific tones and ask students why each bottle sounds different.


  • A rain stick is a recycled musical instrument craft that may be given as a gift. Reuse a cardboard roll from gift wrap. Push 1-inch tacks along the seam of the roll approximately 1-inch apart. Wrap masking tape around the roll to secure the tacks into place. Cut out two paper circles slightly larger than the openings of the roll. Place one circle at one end and tape down. Place 1 1/2 cups of dry rice or sunflower seeds into the rube. Secure the open end with the other paper circle and tape. Decorate the outside with markers or other found decorations.

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