Kids love music! They love learning and listening to new songs. I find that whenever I teach kids music, especially with instruments, it is always well received.
Kids love to play instruments! Drums, rhythm sticks, and even bells. However, sometimes these instruments are not available, or expensive to purchase.
When I teach in the classroom, I love to provide my students with hands-on activities. I have been teaching a lot of music this year, so I wanted to find a way to incorporate instruments into my lessons without spending a lot of money.
Of all of the instruments that we made this year, my favorite homemade instruments were balloon instruments.
Use materials that you have around the house to create these, fun, inexpensive musical instruments.
To make the balloon instruments, all you need are clear balloons and a variety of small materials to put inside the balloons.
As always, when using small objects, be careful because they can pose a choking risk. Create the balloons ahead of time and make sure to supervise children when using the balloon instruments in case they pop.
I made up 30 balloons (plus a few extras – just in case) and used clear balloons for fun so that children could see into their balloon. Trust me, this added to the excitement.
Balloon Instrument Steps
Start by pulling a balloon open. If you have someone to help you, it is a lot easier and faster. Once you have it open a bit, push in your first bunch of objects.
For my balloons, I used pompoms, small elastics, cereal, pasta, beads and popcorn kernels.
Blow up the balloon, carefully as not to get any of the small objects into your mouth. Blow them up enough so that they are big enough for children to hold, but not huge.
I filled my balloons to roughly the size of a large grapefruit. You can make them bigger, but they become hard to transport all together and they become a bigger distraction the bigger they are. Tie them and you are ready to go!
You could use anything that you have a collection of and is small enough to fit in the balloon! Avoid using anything that may be sharp and pop the balloon.
If you have a funnel and the objects you want to put in the balloon are small enough, a funnel does work really well. Also, avoid filling the balloons too full. The objects need space to be able to bounce around in the balloon.
Fill each balloon until you have a class set (or enough for each child). I wanted to have enough balloons for each child.
I put pompoms into 5 balloons. In 5 balloons I put cereal and so on so that I had 6 groups of 5 balloon instruments with similar materials in each group.
Kids Music – Balloon Instrument – Activity Ideas
Once your balloon instruments are ready, you’re ready to play. When I did this activity, I started off by talking about how anything that makes sound could be used as an instrument and how it’s fun to make our own instruments.
Kids music is easy to do at home or school. Once you have made the balloons, hand out a balloon to each child. Give kids time to just shake and explore the different sounds their balloon makes.
It will definitely get noisy as kids explore their balloon instrument.
Once everyone has had a chance to shake and play, have everyone hold their balloon quietly. Ask everyone with a pompom balloon to shake while everyone else listens.
You can even have children close their eyes at this point.
Listened to the sounds balloon group by balloon group. Encourage children to describe the sounds they hear as loud, soft, rattling etc. You can even have children close their eyes and try to guess what objects are making the sound.
Once you have explored and listened to the different balloon sounds. Have children switch their balloon with a classmate and give them a chance to explore and play with their new balloon instrument and sound.
There are lots of kids music activities that you can do with your balloon instruments. A simple activity to try with young kids is to shake your balloon instrument in a specific beat. Have children repeat the beat back to you with their instrument.
Choose a child in the class to shake a beat with their balloon that their peers then have to shake back with each of their balloons. Can they hear the beat/pattern and repeat it?
Spread kids out sitting in a circle. Have children with balloons filled with pompoms start first and tap 3 beats. The next group of balloons go next and so on until all balloons filled with the same materials have tapped their balloons together.
Another activity that my students enjoyed with their balloons was shaking along with our favorite songs. I put on some music that my students were familiar with and encouraged them to follow the beat of the song and shake their balloon to follow the rhythm.
Another bonus to this activity when being used with a group of children is that it is easy to get kids into groups by having them find the other kids that had their balloon filled with the same material.
Shake along to your favourite songs, twirling, tapping and even throwing the balloons all create different sounds. Exploring the sounds made for a great kids music class. There is so much that can be done with these balloon instruments.
Another idea that would be interesting to try out, is to not use clear balloons. Try using black or dark colored balloons so that the materials inside of the them are not visible.
It would make for an interesting music class for children to guess what is inside the balloon or try to group up with children whose balloons make the same sound.
Finally, the last activity we used the balloons for was, having small groups create a short song using their balloon instruments and present it to the class. I will definitely use these instruments again!
And I’ve asked my students for some ideas of what else I should put into the balloons.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more activities and ideas to do in the classroom, or at home with kids, below are some of my favourite and most popular learning activities.
From math number talks and clay animals craft ideas to escape rooms and printable choice boards, there are lots of things to keep kids busy and learning. Click image for activity description.