Music is an wonderful way to introduce kids to different cultures. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” It can evoke emotions that are at the heart of the shared human experience. Here, we offer four musical multicultural kid crafts that celebrate diversity and remind us of what we all have in common. Try them with your little ones at home or school!
Panpipes (aka panflutes) are one of the earliest known musical instruments in the Americas. The oldest was discovered in Peru, and dates back to 4200 BC. We made our kid-friendly version of this woodwind instrument by cutting straws to different lengths and taping them to pieces of cardboard. Gently blow across the tops, and enjoy the soft, echoing sounds.
Chinese Pellet Drum (Bo Lang Gu)
Pellet drums (aka rattle drums) originated in China around 300 B.C. as an instrument used during banquets and religious celebrations. It’s now generally known for its use by street vendors and as a children’s toy. Our kids’ version is made from two paper plates, yarn, beads and a chopstick. Just twist the rod back and forth so the pellets strike each side of the drum.
A number of ancient civilizations used ceremonial rain sticks to call for rain. The origin of the first rain stick is unknown. (Some say South America, others say Africa or China.) We made ours from a paper towel roll, which we pierced with a few toothpicks. Fill it with beads or dry beans, close off the ends, and enjoy the peaceful tap-tapping sound of rain. You may want to keep an umbrella nearby!
Australian-Style Clapsticks (Bilma)
Clapsticks, or bilma, are an instrument used in Aboriginal ceremonies in Australia. Traditionally made of hard eucalyptus wood, they make a hard, rapping sound when struck together. We made ours from short sections of PVC pipe, and they make a wonderful rhythm to dance to!
What’s your favorite musical instrument from another culture? Let us know by leaving a comment!