Making a Musical Instrument - An Introduction to the Study of Sound

By Kate Fraser on Feb 23, 2015

Make a musical instrument or a sound maker, then describe its sound!

This activity is a great introduction to the study of sound for students of all ages.


Very little preparation is needed. Just assemble materials. 


  • 2 paper plates
  • Stapler/ staples or tape or poster putty
  • Macaroni
  • optional:
  • stickers
  • ribbons


an assembled plate shakerPlace one paper plate right side up on your tray.

  1. Place one small handful of macaroni on the paper plate.
  2. Cover the macaroni with the other paper plate.
  3. Use the stapler to fasten the plate all around the outside edge. Ask your teacher for help. Other methods of joining the two plates include using tape or placing small amounts of poster putty all around the edge of one of the plates the pressing the two plates together.
  4. Shake your musical instrument.  What is making the sound?
  5. Just hold your musical instrument. Do not shake it.  Is it making a sound?
  6. Shake your instrument really fast.  Describe the sound.
  7. Shake your instrument very slowly.  Describe the sound.



decorate plate shakerThe most important concept of this activitiy is that vibration causes sound! 

Other questions and statements can encourage students to think about pitch and duration of sounds:

  •  Is it high pitched or low pitch?
  • Make the sound last for a short time while I clap my hands 3 times.
  • Now make the sound last a longer time while I clap my hands 20 times.

Decorating the plates with stickers, colored markers, or ribbons adds to the fun! 

NGSS Standards:

Wave properties:
Sound can make matter vibrate, and vibrating matter can make sound. (Grades K-2)
musical instrument collage



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