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Make Your Own Shakers & Maracas

When making percussion instruments, shakers and maracas are a good place to start.  Try making a variety of shakers of differing sizes and shapes with different materials inside them to create as many different types of sounds as possible.  Here are some suggestions:


  • cocoa pots
  • plastic bottles with lids
  • cylindrical biscuit tins
  • jars with lids (use with supervision for younger children so they don't get broken)
  • dip tubs (like houmous or similar)


Once you have chosen the receptacle you're going to use for your shakers you need to choose what is going to go inside.  Experiment with how much you want to have inside to make the perfect sound when shaken - you don't want to overfill it.  Depending on how many shakers you're making you could use some or all of the following for your filling:


  • sand
  • flour
  • rice
  • dried pasta (try out different shapes and sizes to see if it makes a difference to the sound)
  • dried peas,beans or lentils


Once you have got your chosen filling make sure you put the lid on firmly and then you need to tape up your container securely - duct tape is the best thing if you have some.


Next it's time to decorate it, before you do this you could cover the whole thing with sticky back plastic which you can then attach your decorations too (but this isn't essential).  Try decorating with paper, stickers, tape, markers, ribbons - whatever you can get your hands on.  Aim to make several shakers so that you can experiment with different sounds.


Finally, it's the fun bit - playing and shaking your maracas.  Listen to some music at the same time and see if you can join in either with the beat or the rhythm.  Latin American music uses maracas a lot, so that might be a good place to start.