Introduce your child to rhythms and beats.

What You Need:

• Toilet paper rolls
• Plastic containers with snap-on lids
• 2 small paper plates
• Masking tape
• Stapler
• Jumbo crayons or washable markers
• Noise makers such as dried beans, koa seeds, uncooked rice, sand, paper clips, or small pebbles

What To Do:

1. Have your child close his eyes. Explain that you are going to clap your hands to make a pattern of sounds. For example, “clap, clap, pause, clap.”
2. Ask him to copy the same pattern with his eyes shut.
3. Ask your child to make up his own pattern for you to copy.
4. Once your child feels comfortable making up his own rhythms and following yours, add an instrument. Here are three that you can make together.

Maracas or shakers: Staple shut one end of the toilet paper roll and place heavy tape over the staples. Have your child put a small amount noisemakers inside the open end of the toilet paper roll. Close, staple, and tape the open end.

Alternative: Partially fill a small plastic container with noisemakers; put on its lid and seal it to the container with tape. Make several maracas with different contents to hear the various sounds.

Drums: Gather together different-sized plastic containers that have snap-on lids. Place the lids on the containers, and you’re ready to drum!

Tambourine: Have your child draw on the back of paper plates. Staple two plates together at edges of the rims, but leave a small opening. Have your child help you insert noisemakers through the opening. Staple it shut. Place masking tape around the edges to cover the staples.

5. Have your child walk, turn, or jump to the beat while you shake the instrument. Vary the rhythm as he moves around the room or in a circle.
6. Ask your child questions about his instruments. For example, “What happens when you shake the maracas or the tambourine?” “What is making the sounds?” “Can you see what’s making the sounds?”
7. Choose a favorite nursery rhyme or play a CD of a children’s song. As you recite or listen together, ask him to shake a maraca or tambourine or hit a drum while you clap. Have fun playing your homemade instruments along with the music.

Watch and listen together as dancers perform cultural dances such at the tinikling (Filipino bamboo dance). Point out the beat of the music and how the dancers follow the beat. Demonstrate the beat, for example, while kneeling on the floor, tap the floor twice with your hands as if tapping the bamboo poles on the floor, then clap your hands together as if hitting the poles together. Ask your child to copy you.