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How to Make an Ocean Drum

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Making a drum that emulates the sounds of the ocean is an easy task. All you need is a few basic materials and a little time. You can use your drum by itself to create oceanic sound effects for a play or story time, or to accompany music that can be enhanced with the sound of waves. If you’re feeling adventurous, try using different materials to create ocean drums of different sizes.

Things You'll Need:

  • Paper (Optional, Preferably Something Durable Like Construction Paper)
  • Bottom Of A Chinese Bamboo Steamer (Optional)
  • Glue (As Necessary)
  • Lid For Container: Cardboard, Plastic Lid
  • Small Round Objects: Ball Bearings, Dried Peas, Rice, Beans
  • Round, Flat Container: Aluminum Pie Pan, Plastic Food Container
  • Scissors (As Necessary)
  • Clear Drum Head (Large Enough To Fit Your Bamboo Steamer)

Cheap and Easy

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Fill the pie pan or plastic food container with the small round objects. Don’t fill it up too much, otherwise the round objects won’t have any space to move around.

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Seal the lid onto the container. If you’re using a food container, it will just snap on. If using a foil pie pan, crimp the sides over a cardboard lid. If you’re using a pie pan that doesn’t crimp, you’ll want to use durable paper and glue it to the frame.

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Play your new ocean drum: in a horizontal position, slowly swirl the drum around its circumference. The rolling objects inside should emulate the sounds of the ocean.

The Bamboo Steamer Experiment

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Glue durable paper to the bottom of the inside of your bamboo steamer to cover up the spaces between the slats. You don’t want any of the small round objects falling out of your drum. If you want, you can also cut out the plies of a used drum head and glue them to the latticework instead of using paper. Wait for the glue to dry.

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Fill the steamer with the small round objects.

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Glue the drum head to the open side of the steamer to close in the round objects. Wait for the glue to dry.

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Play your new ocean drum, both to see how it sounds and to make sure the drum holds together.


Experiment with different frames. If you’re a woodworking hobbyist, you might want to consider using scraps of wood to build your own drum frame.

If making the drum with kids, decorate the drum with stickers or drawings on the paper seal (if applicable). If you have a clear lid, you can glue a drawing to the inside of the drum before adding the small round objects and sealing them inside.

If using a pie tin or plastic food container, make sure it’s clean. You don’t want food bits inside your ocean drum.

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