Making Music at Home

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Making Music at Home

March 10, 2014

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Explore at home, ideas and activities, either before coming to the museum or after your visit.

Shoe-Box Guitar

What You’ll Need:

  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Shoebox with lid
  • White glue
  • 4 toothpicks
  • 4 large rubber bands of various thickness
  • Pencil

Set-Up:

Collect your supplies and clear a workspace.

What to Do:

  1. Cut a hole about 3 inches (7.5 cm) square near one end of the shoe-box lid.
  2. Glue the toothpicks onto the lid of the box, spacing them evenly between the hole and the opposite end of the lid. These are the frets.
  3. Place the lid on the box. Slide the rubber bands, from thickest to thinnest, around the box and lid so that they go across the hole.
  4. Insert the pencil under the rubber bands at the end of the hole. This is the bridge.
  5. Play the guitar by plucking the rubber bands. Try making different sounds by holding the frets while plucking. Notice that the thicker rubber bands create a lower sound.

Ideas for More:

  • Decorate your guitar with fun markers or paints.
  • Try using a larger or smaller box to see if it creates different sounds.

Length of Activity:

Set Up – 5 minutes if supplies are readily available
Constructing the Guitar – 10 to 15 minutes

Resource: Sabbeth, Alex, and Laurel Aiello. Rubber-band Banjos and a Java Jive Bass: Projects and Activities on the Science of Music and Sound. New York: John Wiley, 1997. Print.

A mother with her two daughters playing music in the Outdoor Prairie area at the Children's Museum of South Dakota.

Mother Nature’s Chimes

What You’ll Need:

  • Paintbrush
  • Several colors of acrylic paint
  • 3 clay flowerpots, from 2 ½ up to 4 inches (6.25 to 10 cm) tall
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • String
  • 6 small screw nuts
  • White glue
  • 3 pinecones
  • 15-inch (37.5-cm) long tree branch

Set-Up:

Collect your supplies and clear a workspace.

What to Do:

  1. Paint all 3 pots and let the paint dry. The pots will hang upside down, so keep this in mind when you are making your designs.
  2. Cut the strings into three 20-inch (50-cm) lengths. Tie a large knot in one end of each string.
  3. Thread a nut onto one string and tie it 2 inches (5 cm) from the knotted end. This is the bell’s clapper (a metal object hung inside a bell to hit against the sides of the bell as it is rung).

Ideas for More:

  • Use spoons, metal pipes, air-drying clay, soup cans, CDs or invent your own idea for a different material to use.
  • Try beads instead of screw nuts for the chime.

Length of Activity:

Set Up – 5 minutes if supplies are readily available
Painting and Drying – 15-30 minutes
Constructing and Assembling the Chime – 10 minutes

Resource:
Sabbeth, Alex, and Laurel Aiello. Rubber-band Banjos and a Java Jive Bass: Projects and Activities on the Science of Music and Sound. New York: John Wiley, 1997. Print.

Additional Resources:
Fiarotta, Noel, and Phyllis Fiarotta. Music Crafts for Kids: the How-to Book of Music Discovery. New York: Sterling Pub., 1995. Print.
Hopkin, Bart. Making Musical Instruments With Kids: 67 Easy Projects for Adults Working With Children. Independent Pub Group, 2009. Print

Visit the Museum and explore the Sensations exhibit for yourself!