Foster your child’s love of music by engaging in percussion games and activities with him. Simple games can teach children about rhythm and counting, spark creativity and begin connecting your child with the vast world of art and music. Also -- because percussion instruments can be made from virtually anything -- it is low-cost fun that the whole family can enjoy.
Make Your Own Instruments
Your child will enjoy making his own instrument almost as much as he does playing it. Make a maraca by adding dried rice, beans or beads to a plastic Easter egg; tape or glue egg shut at the seam, and shake away. A rain stick can be made with parental assistance by hammering nails through a cardboard tube, such as a chip container, in a random pattern. Add a small amount of rice to the tube, and glue lid in place. Create a coffee can drum by stretching a section of heavy duty garbage bag tightly over the open end of the can and securing with a rubber band. Allow your little drummer boy to tap it with a spoon, pencil or his hands. Make a tambourine by punching holes around the rim of a plastic bowl and attaching a jingle bell with a chenille stem to each hole.
Play the Room
Give your child a set of drumsticks and let her have fun “playing the room.” Let her explore the different sounds that everyday objects make when they are tapped on with drumsticks. Of course, remove anything fragile or breakable from the room, and make a clear "no tap" rule for objects that are too heavy to remove such as a TV. Point out that the rubber ball sounds different than the plastic one when struck with the same stick and that certain items vibrate more than others when struck.
Call and Response Games
Playing a simple game of call and response takes nothing more than your body and a little creativity. Start by producing a simple rhythm such as two hand claps followed by two foot stomps; once you have completed your rhythm, your child mimics your action. Change the pattern each time, experimenting with rhythm as you go. Or, create a memory challenge by starting with one action and adding an additional action to the pattern -- one note at a time -- until your child can no longer remember the entire pattern. Give your child a chance to be the caller and encourage experimentation with different types of body percussion.
Organize a found objects or junk percussion ensemble by rummaging through your cupboards, garage, tool shed or even the junkyard. Encourage your child to look at everyday objects in a new way to discover what musical properties they may contain. For instance, an old coffee can makes a nifty drum and a wooden spoon makes a fine drumstick. Reusable plastic food containers, paint cans, garbage cans, brooms, basketballs and even toys make unique noises and rhythms.
Victoria Georgoff has been writing professionally since 2007. Her articles have appeared in "The Journal of Sexual Medicine" and "The Encyclopedia of Sex & Society." A dually-licensed mental health counselor, with additional EMDR certification, Georgoff specializes in writing about parenting, education, sexual health and psychology, but also writes prolifically on many other topics. Georgoff holds an Master of Arts in counseling from Valparaiso University.