Homemade Instruments

Clara Williams Douglass Math and Science Academy
543 North Waller
Chicago IL 60644


These activities can be used by all grade levels.
Students will identify what sound is and make musical instruments out of
household items.

Materials Needed:

8 glass bottles


Activity 1:

1. Take a soda straw and pinch one end flat.
2. Cut off the corners to form two little reeds. The fact that it's cuttable
means you can make it into an oboe.
3. Hold the reeds in your mouth without squeezing them.
4. Now blow hard.
5. Carefully cut small holes along the length of the straw about one inch or so
6. Blow in the straw while you cover and uncover the holes to play simple


The two reeds opening and closing at high speed first allow air to flow into the
straw and then stop the flow. The vibrating air is what produces the sound.

Activity 2:

l. Take 8 glass bottles and fill each bottle with a little more water than the
one before.
2. Take a spoon and tap each bottle to hear a different sound.


When you tap each bottle, it makes the bottle vibrate. The pitch of the note
depends on the amount of water in the bottle. The pitch of note is lower with
more water.

Activity 3:

l. Take a shoebox and cut a hole in the top.
2. Place several large rubber bands of various widths around the box to make a


The plucking of the rubber bands causes them to vibrate producing various
sounds. The thicker the band, the lower the note. The thinner the band, the
higher the note.


80% accuracy is successful.


Herbert, Don, Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science, Random House, NY

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