Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories At Home Art Studio Sculpture

Creative Musical Instruments

Elana Thomas, Erin Simmons, Lizbette Hernandez, Natasha Costa

We are excited to share a series of blog posts created in collaboration with the Curriculum in Early Childhood Education students at Holyoke Community College! The HCC students completed a Service Learning Project with Carle Art Educators this fall, continuing a partnership developed over the past two years. Students worked in groups to develop At Home Art Studio projects inspired by illustrations in The Carle’s online exhibition Now & Then: Contemporary Illustrators and Their Childhood Art. Students planned the projects, experimented with materials, and documented their process for the blog. The following is Elana Thomas, Erin Simmons, Lizbette Hernandez, and Natasha Costa’s description of the project. 
Cover of the book Drum Dream Girl
Join us in reading Drum Dream Girl and create your own musical instrument! After reading Drum Dream Girl, written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López, we were fascinated with the illustrations. Seeing the vivid colors, musical instruments, and animals throughout the book inspired us to create musical instruments with materials available at home.

This project will exercise hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as children work with materials. Children will develop their cognitive abilities as they think of an idea and figure out how to make it with materials. Art can change a person’s outlook and the way they see and experience the world and will benefit children not only academically but socially and emotionally, as well.  By looking at the illustrations on each page in Drum Dream Girl and creating a musical instrument, participants will build literacy and art-making skills. Get creative and most importantly, have fun with it! Here’s how our group made musical instruments of our own! 
Series of three images: the first shows materials spread out on the floor including cardboard boxes papers and drawing tools, the second image shows a cardboard box with a rectangular hole in the top, the final image shows rubber bands stretched across the hole to make a guitar.
A series of two images: the first shows a cardboard box with a circle cut in the top, the second image shows the box with patterns added and rubber bands stretched across the hole to make a guitar.
“The instrument I chose to create was a guitar. I used a tissue box for one and a cereal box for another. First, I cut out a hole in the middle, then covered the outsides with computer paper and glued the paper onto the boxes. I cut the paper to fit the boxes then drew designs on it in different sections using colored pencils and markers. Inspired by the animals and vibrant colors in Drum Dream Girl, I put animal prints and colors on my guitar. After designing all the sections, I put rubber bands around the entire box for guitar strings and chose certain colors to fit the story and relate to the girl who dreamed of one day playing the drums for people. I decided to make two guitars with a cereal box and a tissue box, but some substitutions could be a shoe box or a smaller cardboard box. If you don’t have rubber bands, you could use string or hair ties. As long as they can fit around the box, it will look like a guitar!” -Erin Simmons 
A series of three images: the first shows materials such as glue, scissors, and markers, the second shows a paper plate folded in half and stapled closed, the thir image shows a paper plate folded and stapled with polka dot decorations.
“I was inspired by maracas and wanted to create an instrument that makes a rattling sound. To create my maracas, I found a variety of materials at home, including paper plates, paper, tissue paper, markers, buttons, and beads. For tools, I used a stapler, glue, and scissors. I first folded a paper plate in half and put buttons inside the first one and beads in the second one. Second, I stapled along the rim of the paper plate. I then colored the paper plate with markers. For my first instrument I colored it with rainbow polka dots on a black background to represent the bright colors featured in Drum Dream Girl. I then cut up pieces of purple tissue paper and glued them around the rim of the paper plate.”
paper plate folded in half and stapled with a tiger face drawn on with markers
“For my second instrument I drew a tiger face using markers and white copy paper. I was inspired by the animals Rafael López featured in the book. I drew black stripes on both sides of the maraca, and added black eyes, a nose, a mouth, and orange fur.  I then cut up white pieces of copy paper for ears, coloring them orange and black, and glued them to the top. There are a variety of materials found at home that children can use. For example, a recycled water bottle or a paper roll can become an instrument that rattles. The options are endless.” -Elana Thomas
A series of three images showing a drum being made from a tin can and paper.
“To create a drum, I searched my house for materials to use and found an empty coffee tin can that was perfect. I wanted to make my drum unique and colorful, while also creating a look that reminded me of the images I saw in the book. The materials I used to design my drum were construction paper, crayons, scissors, and glue. I cut out a circle for the top of my drum, rectangles to create stripes, and larger rectangles to cover the side of the gray can. I then drew different animal stripes with crayons on the smaller rectangles to represent Rafael López’s love for animals. While reading Drum Dream Girl, I noticed the illustrations were in colors that made the pages pop, which is why I chose these colors for my drum. I then glued the construction paper pieces onto my drum to create my final look.  A drum can be created with many different objects around the home, such as an empty ice cream container, an old candle holder, or an empty jar of peanut butter. Since I had construction paper, I used that to design my drum. If you don’t have construction paper, you can use any papers around the home including newspaper and wrapping paper. This project is about using creativity in whichever way it leads you!”
A series of four images showing a cardboard tube transformed into a flute with brightly colored drawings all around.
“I also chose to make a flute, one of the many instruments in Drum Dream Girl. I made my flute with materials found around the house such as an empty roll of aluminum foil, wrapping paper roll, or paper towel roll. I used scissors, playdough, pencils, and markers to make my musical instrument. Using the tip of the pencil I marked six to eight holes one to two inches apart in the front of the tube. On the opposite side I cut out about a one-inch rectangle to create the hole that musicians blow into to create sound, called an embouchure. I used playdough to block the opening of the flute. I finished my flute by drawing colorful designs on it, inspired by the illustrations in the book. By doing art activities like these together,families can develop a common interest that can be shared and encouraged. Art isn’t about just an image; it is a message.” -Lizbette Hernandez

Main Guideline: GPKLE. Visual Art. Observation, Abstraction, Invention, and Expression. Students will demonstrate their powers of observation, abstraction, invention, and expression in a variety of media, materials, and techniques. 148

Supporting Guideline: RI.PK. 7. With prompting and support, describe important details from an illustration or photograph. 51

The Carle wants to thank the students of EDU 210, Curriculum in Early Childhood Education, for sharing their knowledge and creative responses to picture books. We hope you enjoy exploring books and materials! 


Elana Thomas

Erin Simmons

Lizbette Hernandez

Natasha Costa