When I started teaching music in my early childhood classes, one of my first projects was to create a Sound Box… a box full of sounds. It sits innocuously in one corner of my room until it’s ‘play’ time or ‘let’s experiment’ time and then it springs to life: loud sounds, soft sounds, whirry, shaky, raspy sounds. We use our box when we want to tap along with some of our songs, re-tell a story like The Three Billy Goats Gruff (soft, medium and loud trip trapping), The Three Little Pigs, Night Sounds by Mem Fox or as an activity station for experimentation and collaboration.
I love it because:
- the kids love it!
- they think of themselves as musicians
- they experiment widely to create just the right sound and rhythm
- they admire each other’s discoveries
- they have to share and resolve conflict (that is, communicate)
- they enjoy creating ‘bands’ and performing for each other
I love it because:
- using everyday objects is age appropriate (and fun)
- research is confirming that musical training, particularly keeping a steady beat leads to improved language skills including speaking and reading. You can read one of these articles published in The Journal of Neuroscience, September 2013, by clicking this link.
- the children’s enthusiasm can lead to a great variety of activities
- it’s a great way to recycle
Some of my reservations and cautions:
- too many objects can get messy – it’s better to put a smaller number inside and switch them out occasionally for variety and to keep it fresh
- tins that are smashed together can be REALLY LOUD (ouch)!
- Resist using cake tins or similar items that you’d prefer not to be covered in dints
- Play different kinds of music in the background to encourage a variety of musical atmospheres – children will often choose to play along
- Put a variety of pictures nearby and ask children to create music for what they see: animals playing, the beach, superheroes and princesses, a night scene…
- Ask children to find out how many different sounds they can create with one or two objects
What do you need for the box?
Actually you really only need a plain box, but we early learning people tend to like a bit of cuteness
- 1 box – I like cardboard because it’s light
- colored or patterned paper or contact adhesive paper, washi tape…
- stickers, pictures of instruments, pom poms – anything you like!
- scotch tape and glue
- Sound Box Title Poster (click the link to upload)
How do I make it?
- Just put it all together however you’d like! If in doubt, ask the kids and they’ll do it for you!
Anything you like, but I can recommend:
- Tins of various sizes, including ones with concertina-type surfaces
- Small boxes
- Small plastic containers for filling with rice or beans for shakers
- Plastic cutlery
- Kitchen whisk
- Plastic or metal measuring cups and spoons (great for higher and lower sounds)
- A tennis ball with a slit to fit onto a ruler (makes a great beater)
- Recycled paper: tear it, scrunch it, flap it
- Aluminum foil: tear it, scrunch it, flap it
- Comb, hair and tooth brushes
What other objects do children love to use to make music?