Make a Music Basket to Encourage Rhythm and Movement

diy music kit for kids

Do you enjoy having music in your home? Do you have an instrument kit for your child to explore?

If you do, I’d love to hear about what’s inside your kit. And if this is new-to-you, pull up a chair and let’s talk music!

When my older child was just a few months old she got her first instruments — a few bean and bell-filled rattles. I suppose that they’re more noisemakers than musical instruments, but at a young age children love to explore the cause and effect of moving or pushing an instrument and hearing the noise it makes.


Our kit has grown organically over the years, and just about any noise-making tool can go into it. I’ve weeded a lot of things out for the sake of saving space, and have kept a lot of our favorites.

What goes into the Noise-making Basket?

  • Egg shakers like these by Meini
  • Animal Sound Makers like these
  • Gourd Maracas like these Axatse African Shakers 
  • Bell Shaker. These are good for babies to shake, and these Wrist Bells  encourage kids to get up and move. My older daughter fell in love with these when she was two and a half.
  • Cowbell like this one. Just because our friends gave us one, and it sounds cool.
  • Harmonica like this one.
  • DIY baby bottle rattle: Fill an old baby bottle with coins and tightly secure it with a flat bottle lid. Gluing the lid shut is suggested if you think your baby could open the lid. The Crafting Chicks made these shakers with beans. So cute!
  • Silk scarves to dance and twirl around. Ours are from my collection, and you can find a selection of beautiful scarves at Sarah’s Silks.
  • Slide Whistles like these are fun, and teach the child how to control the sound of an instrument.
  • All-in-one kit. If you want a one-stop-shop, this ready made kit is reasonably prices and looks like it has it all: Rhythm Band Rockin’ Rhythm Bag

diy music kit

How We Use Our Music Kit

  1. Clear Space. I usually start by clearing some space, just in case anyone is inclined to dance. In my house, the dancing doesn’t happen right away, but it’s almost inevitable.
  2. Turn on Music. Then I’ll turn on some music. We listen to a lot of children’s music and my kids have their favorites, so this is usually where we begin. I’ve tried introducing them to my music (and still do on occasion), but this is usually a sure way to kill their will to participate. Maybe if I had been better about diversifying the music from the get-go.
  3. Pull out the kit. I pull out our music basket and gently shake it out onto the rug. Then I have to get silly.
  4. Dance around the room. I’ll pick up one or two scarves or a few maracas and dance around the room, waving the scarves or shaking the maracas to the music. They love this. This doesn’t require any special skills or talent (trust me — I’m a talentless expert at silly making with music).
  5. Have some costumes ready. My girls often race to put on dance costumes at this point. Maybe it’s just them, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some dance-worthy costumes ready just in case.

kids dance to music

More Music and Movement Resources

Get up and Dance with Your Baby, from Christie at Mama OT. If you didn’t already guess, Christie is an pediatric occupational therapist, so she really knows what she’s talking about.

If you like classical music, Prekinders.com shares this great list of classical music that kids will love.

Debbie Clement’s whole site, Rainbows within Reach, is full of music-related ideas.

Angelique Felix shares eight musical games you can play with children.

DIY Parade in a box from Bugaboo, Mini, Mr. and Me

Take the merriment outside and make your own Banging Wall like Soule Mama’s, this gorgeous music wall from Sue Nierman on PreK + K and Sharing. or this music tree from Filth Wizardry.

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  1. Sometimes adults don’t like the “noise” music instruments make….but I believe it’s beautiful noise due to all the learning and development that can occur.
    Thanks for posting,
    Cathie J at toddlersthroughpreschool.com

  2. Ahaha, yes, we have a music basket, and clearly I need to do some pruning, every project that Rebecca or Penelope makes at school that is an ‘instrument’ somehow ends up in there, and it is a disaster. I don’t think you could pull the ‘box’ out if you wanted to, although I’m pretty sure there is a box under the pile somewhere… There are whistles, recorders, shakers of every variety, a ukelele, slide whistle, banging harp thing, hand cranked music boxes, banging sticks, a rain stick, a rubber band guitar…

  3. We have a box with assorted instruments that provides much joy! We also have some paper cut outs of orchestra instruments that we march around and pretend to play. And keep in mind the pot and pan drum set with the kitchen spoon drum sticks and pan lid cymbals! Everyone should be able to put together one of those (but you may need ear plugs to go along with it!) Thanks for the great post.

  4. Yes, we have a big basket of instruments. Xylophone, maracas, drums, lots of little shaky things, and the piece de resistance: a child-sized accordian. Sounds strange, but I keep the basket in my bedroom. When my kids were younger, I would have them play with the instruments while I was in the shower. I had a few minutes to groom and knew if I could hear music, everything was fine. They could bang as loud as they wanted, and the sounds were (slightly) muffled by the shower!

  5. What a fun music basket! We love simple musical instruments. Anything with bells is always a hit!

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