What child doesn’t love drumming? Even at a young age children will often bang and make their own kind of music around the house. This bucket drumming for kids activity is basically an extension of this simple music.
I remember my own children banging on pots and pans and loving every minute of it. Even this basic drumming is a form of music as children explore sounds and music.
This year I am lucky to be teaching music to 3-6 year olds. I have over 100 children that I see and teach every day.
I have always enjoyed teaching music because I have always found young children eager to learn and explore music and they love songs.
This year, I am lucky enough to work with an amazing teacher who taught bucket drumming to his class. They presented what they had learned and we were all in awe!
My students couldn’t stop talking about the bucket drumming performance. Luckily, I was able to borrow the buckets that he had acquired to give my students a chance to try out bucket drumming with their own hands.
Young children love learning songs and having the opportunity to play with instruments. I knew that they would enjoy bucket drumming and exploring this new instrument.
I did this bucket drumming activity with a group of 3-6 year olds. This young group was successful in creating songs and keeping a beat. The more musical experiences the better.
You can easily use this activity with older children and allow them to explore the sounds and music with higher expectations in terms of creating songs and following more complicated rhythms.
You don’t need a lot of materials for this activity. You will need the following:
- 5 Gallon Buckets
- Drumming Sticks
- Speaker (Optional)
- Cell Phone or Something to Play Music (Optional)
- Plastic Cups
- Popsicle Sticks
Introducing Bucket Drumming
I love creating music with children by using simple, everyday objects. Anything that makes music can be an instrument. I want to encourage children to find music in things around them.
Before I introduced the buckets, I started smaller, by giving each child a plastic cup and one popsicle stick. We talked about this as being our mini bucket drums.
We started by simply tapping the cups. I would tap a simple beat, and children would tap the beat back to me. We talked about how to hold the popsicle stick and how holding it at the end versus the middle makes a different sound.
They explored what sound it made when they tapped hard. They tapped softly to make a different sound. We even flipped our cups right side up to create another sound along the rim of the cup.
We explored and played with the different sounds and rhythms we could make. Once everyone was comfortable, we moved on from simple drumming.
I later gave each child 2 popsicle sticks for them to explore how to play with both. My students really enjoyed this experience because it made them feel like “real drummers”.
We tried lots of things with our cups:
- Children worked in groups creating a pattern of beats,
- A lead child created a rhythm and then the class tapped it back,
- We worked to tap a favourite, popular songs,
- We tapped out certain words,
- Children repeated back a pattern of beats to me.
Once we had explored with the cups for a few music classes, it was time to get out the drums!
Bucket Drumming for Kids Activity
We all went outside to try out our bucket drums! These 5 gallon drums were really big for my young students, but it worked out great being outside with them because children could stand and move as they played.
I set up the drums in a circle and gave each child a drumming stick. We had a conversation about the drum sticks and the fact they were only to be used to tap the drum. If your group is too young to use hard drum sticks with, please don’t.
I put children in groups of 3-4 children per drum. If you are lucky enough to have a drum for each child, that’s great. It worked well in groups as well though.
Make sure to remind children that only the drumming sticks are to touch the drums. Make sure children know not to put their hands or fingers, or anything else, on the drum when drumming.
I started by giving everyone a few minutes to simply bang and play on the drums. Children were really excited to tap the drums and make some noise! This is another reason why doing this activity outside is a great idea!
After a few minutes of open drumming time, we began working together to create some music.
I started by drumming a simple beat on my bucket. I encouraged children to drum it back. With young children, the challenge comes from having everyone drum and tap a note in unison. You will be surprised how quickly children learn though.
Once we had drummed a few repeat after me notes, we did some other basis rhythms together and I had a volunteer drum a simple rhythm that the rest of the class then drummed back.
We then had some fun with the drums. I like bringing out my portable speaker and playing some music for children to follow along to. It gives structure to our activity and children already know the beat to familiar songs.
Today we used the song, “B-I-N-G-O”. The children knew the song and were eager to sing along. Once we had sang along, we then used our drums.
I placed my speaker in the middle of the circle we created with the drums.
For each of the letters of B-I-N-G-O, we tapped our drum. This is really simple to start because you only tap for B. However, it gets harder as the song goes on because so much of the song becomes tapping.
The final activity that we did with the drums, was to break each bucket drumming group off to create their own song. They worked with their small group of 3-4 kids and found a quiet place in our play area to practice and create.
We then all came back together and each group presented their bucket drumming songs.
It was noisy, but a lot of fun. As usual, I was so proud, but not surprised by what they were able to do and how great their songs sounded!
If you have the opportunity to do some bucket drumming with a group of children, I strongly encourage it!
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas for Kids
If you are looking for more music and hands-on activities, below are a collection of some of my most popular and favourites.