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Child Playing Drum

People have made drums throughout many cultures. Long ago they were made of hollow logs with a skin pulled tightly over them.

The rhythmic beating had a certain hypnotic sound that has been the basis for dances as well as communications. Codes were developed to send messages over long distances.

All kids love to play them. They love the banging and the sound it creates and the rhythms.

Drums can be improvised from many different things:

  • The simplest is to use a pot or pan and a spoon. Toddlers love to bang on things. If given a chance, they will automatically pull pans from cupboards and try beating on them. Pan lids can be cymbals.

  • Look around your house and see what you have that can be banged on. Empty oatmeal boxes will work.

  • Empty Popcorn Tins left over from the holidays will each have a different sound. You can line up several with different sounds and let the kids bang on all of them. This is my personal favorite. We have a set of four that make great sounds. I enjoy playing them as much as the kids.

  • Even a box will work. They don't always have to be round. Try different containers out to see how they sound.

  • Large plastic tubs such as ice cream comes in will work also.

  • Try turning over a plastic waste can to get a different sound.

  • Try metal or tin cans. Number 10 ones make a nice size, but smaller ones will work too.

  • You can even tap on yourself by using your hands on different body parts such as your stomach or legs. Each makes a different sound. Cupping your hands can make a another sound. Experiment to see what kinds of sounds you can make.

Drum Sticks

(Not the ice cream kind, although they
are very good to eat.)

  • These can be as simple as wooden or metal spoons used on pots and pans or other objects.

  • A wooden dowel or a stick from the yard can be used. Make sure you sand the ends so that they aren't sharp so they won't damage what you are using to beat on.

  • An old broom stick can also be cut into a shorter length to be used to beat with.

  • A ball can be put on a stick to create another type of stick for a different sound.

  • I have even used massage sticks that were balls on flexible handles.

  • See what you have available.


You might want to start out clapping. You can clap to make the sound to create a rhythm. Then have your child clap it too. Finally, have them try it out on the drum.

Then see what different rhythms you can come up with. You can work with your child to have him or her duplicate what you do. They can listen and then try to make the same sequence you have done.


Here are some examples to try:

  • Short Short Wait Short Short

  • Long Short Long Short

  • Long Short Short Long Short Short

  • Long Long Long Short Short Long Long Long Short Short

  • Hard Soft Soft Soft Hard Soft Soft Soft
       (Start of 4/4 time) Good for marching.

  • Long Short Short Long Short Wait Long Short

  • ************************************************************

    Get inventive with the different types of rhythms you can do.

    Show your child how to march as you clap. Then you can do the rhythm on the drum and let your child march by himself or herself.

    Finally, let your child explore rhythms on his or her own using his hands and then the drum.

    My kids and grandkids loved to play drums of all sorts. One of my sons played in a baton corps and another of my sons loved playing them so much he later played them in his high school band. He even had his own complete set for a while.


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