Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Making a Syllable Drum

Have I shared how much I love activities that combine multiple disciplines?!? This activity is all about music and language arts.

There are two parts of this activity: 1) making a drum and 2) reading and banging out the beats (aka syllables) on the instrument we'd crafted.

The drum can be made out of any recycled cylinder - the sturdier the better (I used an empty raisin container). Cut a piece of paper to fit around the drum’s exterior and ask your child to decorate it however they like. Use double-sided tape to attach.

Then cut two circles from any non-fraying material (I used vinyl leftover from a cowboy vest I made for Halloween a few years ago). The circles should be about ¾-inch wider all the way around your cylinder. We used a small bowl to trace the circle shape before cutting it out.

Use a paper punch to make holes in the circles about a ¼-inch in from the edge, roughly 1 ½ inches apart. Make sure both circles have the same number of punched holes.

Place one circle right-side down on the table. Add a bead of hot glue around the edge of the cylinder to hold it in place. Put the cylinder on top and add glue to the top of the cylinder, placing the other fabric circle over it. Now use a ridiculously long piece of yarn or other string to thread up and down through the holes, working your way around the drum. When you get back to where you began, tie the strings together. (NOTE: We neglected to use glue and our circles were constantly slipping as we threaded the yarn.)

With our drum made, it was time to read. Steve Webb’s Tanka Tanka Skunk is an awesome book for teaching syllables. An reviewer shared this little nugget and you know what? They were right.

Two lovable characters (Tanka, the elephant, and Skunka, the skunk) bang on their drums, drumming the beats of animal words (e.g. kan-ga-roo has 3 beats and cat-er-pil-lar has 4 beats). As I read the book, my son banged out the beats of the animal names on his new drum.

When he got confused (for example, trying to make fox into two beats), I reminded him that each syllable has just one vowel sound. Since there is only one vowel sound in fox, it has only one beat, or syllable.

This was SO MUCH fun! When he finished Webb’s book, he practiced lots of other words like the names of EVERYONE in our family and his teacher's name too. Then he asked if he could wear the drum; I tied a long ribbon around it so he could sling it over his shoulder and drum all over the house. My little drummer boy is learning syllables and drumming up some funky beats at the same time!

Now that’s music to my ears!


  1. Oooooh I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE your drum!!!! How gorgeous. The string on it looks fantastic.

    Thanks you for linking to Kids Get Crafty!


  2. Oh this is brilliant! I wonder if you can get that material as a remnant? Great idea!

    Kerry @ ScienceSparks

  3. I love this idea!!! I'll be looking for this book at the library very soon. Thanks for sharing.

  4. What a CLEVER idea! Love it! You've incorporated so many disciplines here. Thanks so much for sharing!!
    I would love for you to link up at
    ~ Beth

  5. That's a great idea... and a very sneaky way to practice syllables!

  6. Visitng from Living Life Intentionally Linky Party - very clever. I am totally doing this.

  7. I LOVE THIS!! The drum is fabulous and the book sounds great. I'll be looking for it this week. Thanks for sharing!

  8. What a fabulous idea! I love it!

    Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

  9. This activity is wonderful all around in so many areas, language, phonological awareness, fine motor and fun. Thanks! Kristi

  10. My daughter is also learning to clap syllables in school, and I bet she would love this drum. She is practicing on her keyboard at the moment though :)

  11. I've been on a drum kick lately and haven't gotten around to making one. Does it count if we finally finished a plastic container of prunes and used it as a drum???

  12. I am loving the drum too! Great job!

    I will also check out the book!


  13. Thank you so much for linking up to MYM! What a great project idea!!

    For Love of Cupcakes

  14. What a clever project to go with a great book...Totally LOVE this!!

    Thanks so much for linking it to Hey Mom, Look What I Did!! Hope to see you again next week!

  15. great project, maybe this is one craft my boys will actually complete, they love drums! thanks for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!

  16. I just wanted to let you know that I featured you at – how could I not it was so creative!! Feel free to grab a featured button if you like. Thanks again for linking up & I can’t wait to see what else you link up!!!

  17. I'm featuring this post at tomorrow's AfterSchool party. I hope it's alright to use one of your pictures. This drum was a great idea for teaching syllables and having fun!

  18. What a great idea to teach syllable-and your drum is SUPER cute!!

  19. We're featuring this idea on Monstrously Creative Saturday! Stop on by and grab a button! :)
    Mandi at BBM

  20. This is a very very cool idea! Vince is only 2, but he would still love this!