Is your box of rhythm instruments sitting off in a corner of the room looking tired and dusty? When you do get those instruments out, do you immediately get a headache because the children are just banging away, because you have no specific activities and they are JUST TOO LOUD? Read on, for fun ways to makeover your music and rhythm instrument box and its contents.

Goal: To have useful, musical sounding instruments, specific ways to use them, and have everything organized and at your fingertips, ready for fun!- No more noise induced headaches!!

Getting Started: First of all, dump out, gather together, find, all your rhythm instruments. (You know, this is like taking all the clothes out of your closet for one of the closet makeovers). Separate into the following piles:

  • Those in good condition and pleasant to listen to

  • Those in good condition but annoying sounding,

  • Those in need of repair (fix them or toss them!)

  • Those which really should have been thrown out a long time ago!-
    (You can do it now, and we won’t mention them again).

Now take inventory:

  • How many sets of the same instrument do you have?

  • How many one of a kind instruments do you have?

  • How many children do you typically have in your care?

  • How many instruments would you like to have ?

O.K., now for the fun part. You are going to create a spectacular Music Box. It will contain several “classroom” sets of instruments, some miscellaneous instruments and noisemakers, and all the other things you will need for fun and successful music times .

Begin by purchasing and decorating a large colorful container big enough to hold the instruments you have, and those you would like to have. There are many large, colorful, inexpensive plastic storage containers at stores like Target and Wal-Mart, so have some fun here! Your box should also be big enough to hold a 3 ring binder, and some tapes or CD’s, and any other props you use with songs.

Have A Party: Get together with 3-6 other childcare providers and schedule several craft nights. Each night you can spend a couple of hours making lots of one instrument (like egg shakers, or jingle bells). Everyone will go home with a new set of instruments, and after several of these parties, you should have a great collection , and have caught up on all the latest gossip! ( Don’t forget refreshments– remember, it’s a party!) You can also agree to have each person bring one or more instruments to swap.

In addition to actual materials necessary for instruments, other fun items to have are: Electrical tape purchased in a package containing primary colors, Decocolor Markers (these will write on any surface, and are especially fun to decorate your box and smaller containers with– Buy several colors, and split the cost), buttons, ribbons or other craft items that anyone wants to contribute.

Organize: Now that you have partied hearty, and you have all these swell instruments, it’s time to organize your box. Put each set of instruments in a separate container and label them with those handy dandy Decocolor pens you got ( you know, we’re going for a “print rich” environment). Purchase a 3 ring binder, and some plastic page protectors, or use a laminator if you have one. Using the ideas on the Song and Story Sounds handout, cut out magazine pictures and place them in the page protectors in the notebook. ( Hey, cutting out magazine pictures sound like a good excuse for another craft night party!) If you have felt pieces for songs, they can be placed there as well.

Now remember those miscellaneous instruments you put in a pile when we started this project? Put those in a separate container to be used for story sound effects, and the other ideas on the Song and Story Sounds handout, which, by the way, should also be in a page protector in your notebook. Sometimes those otherwise annoying sounds can be the perfect story sound!

Lastly, round up all the recordings you actually use at music time (as opposed to those just used for listening). Keep those in your music box. If, God forbid, you are still using cassettes (you know, CD players really are affordable now), get yourself some blank 10 minute tapes- that’s 5 minutes to a side, and record individual songs on them. That way you won’t be spending time trying locate songs (which becomes so frustrating that you give up on the whole idea!) Blank cassettes are available from Protape Northwest in Seattle (206) 441-6107, and from musician supply catalogues. Hint: record the same song on both sides, and you’ll never have to rewind!
And don’t forget to label them!

And nowLet the Band Begin!



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