Teaching Kids How Sound is Made

It’s a well known fact that from the time they are babies, children love cause and effect. If I shake this rattle I hear a sound. When I push my toy car, it rolls along the floor. When I bang a wooden spoon on this saucepan it makes a noise. Lots of noise!

Cause and effect is how children learn to control and interact with their environment, and understanding cause and effect helps  to develop problem solving skills. With that in mind, I created this fun activity for my three year old son, R, to give him a visual understanding of how sound is created when he bangs a drum.

This experiment was so much fun! It took only minutes to put together, we  made lots of noise, quite a bit of mess, and we learned quite a lot as well!


To demonstrate how sound is made you will need:

  • Containers of various sizes (empty tin cans and bowls work well)
  • Chopsticks or wooden spoons to act as drumsticks
  • Cellophane paper and extra large balloons for the drumskins
  • Various materials to bounce on the drums (we used rice, flour, dried beans and marbles)
  • Rubber bands
  • Pair of scissors

rice and marbles

How to play in 3 simple steps:

1. Make your drums. Using the scissors, cut the end off the balloon (the part you would blow into). Now stretch the balloon over your chosen container and you’re done! Instant drum. For your next drum, cut the cellophane paper to fit over one of your other containers and secure with a rubber band. There! Two drums made in minutes.

2. Set up your experiment. Add various items such as rice, dried beans or marbles to the top of each drum.

3. Play! Now start banging those drums and watch the rice, beans and marbles fly all over the place!

drum collage

This was great fun and there were plenty of giggles and shouts as we played. You could extend the learning potential of this activity by asking questions such as:

  • Which drum surface causes the objects on top to bounce the highest?
  • Which drum surface causes the objects on top to bounce for the longest time?
  • Which objects have the most bounce?
  • How are the results affected if you bang your drumstick softly or more heavily?

Check out these other fun Quirky Momma posts on teaching kids about sound and other body senses:


    1. Thank you so much Tonya! We had lots of fun with this. I’d love to hear how it goes with your children and students.

  1. My husband is a drummer. I bet we would all enjoy this activity. Saving it to do with my kids. Thanks!

    1. I bet he would love it Jodi! He could even try it on real drums.

  2. I’ve got this pinned on pinterest! Such a great activity!

  3. My son loves to play on real drums, so he would have so much fun with this!

    1. My son loves real drums too! He was thrilled at making all that noise AND seeing everything flying everywhere!

    1. Thanks Rebekah! We really did have so much fun.

    1. Thanks Chrissy! The balloon drum made a really fabulous deep sound too.

  4. Ness,
    What a wonderful post. So well written and the pictures are great. This looks like such a wonderful activity: fun and educational. A little mess always makes it better too!!!I love it! Can’t wait to try it with my boys!!!

    1. Thank you so much Davina! Mess just makes everything that little but more fun somehow, doesn’t it? 🙂 I hope you and your boys have fun with it!

  5. Looks like fun! What a great idea to add a visual when learning about sound. I can’t wait to try this out with my little guy! 🙂

    1. Thanks Gina. We had rice and beans everywhere but it was worth it! Lots of fun and so much learning going on as well.

  6. this is brilliant! like alot of people, i think that the best way for children to learn is by hands on exploration. Bear and i are definitely going to have to try this out!

    1. Thanks Andie! You are so right. There is no better way to learn than to be actively engaged. I hope you and Bear have fun with this.

  7. Such fun! I never thought to add rice, beans, and other object to the instruments we make, but now we’ll have to try this out!

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  10. Maybe I’m being dense, but I don’t get how this teaches kids how sound is made. Do you have a link to the science behind why banging on these makes noise? It does sound like fun and it could be said that anything open-ended is educational, but I saw this on Pinterest with a quote about how much was learned and I’m confused about that part. It definitely looks like a fun time with mom though. 🙂

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