Prep: 15 Minutes / Activity Time: 5 Minutes

Enchant your baby with sound, color and movement as you play together with a simple, home-made musical instrument! Learning to focus on sounds helps pave the way for later accomplishments in phonological awareness, and that’s important for future reading and spelling skills.

  • cylinder-shaped container with a lid
  • about one cup of uncooked macaroni or dry beans
  • colored construction or craft paper
  • scissors
  • double-sided tape


Step 1:  Gather a clean, empty cylinder-shaped container (an empty, clean coffee can works well for this activity).

Step 2:  Create a simple musical instrument by covering the container using brightly colored or patterned paper. You can use double-sided tape to attach the paper. 

Step 3:  Fill about ¼ of the container with uncooked macaroni, pasta, or beans.

Step 4:  Place the lid on the container and secure with tape.



Step 1:  While your baby is awake, alert, and happily resting in his infant seat, swing or stroller, get his attention by showing him the decorated container. Talk to your baby as he is focusing on the object. You might say:

Look what I have! Look at the pretty colors! There’s red. And black, too!

Step 2:  Gently shake the container to make sound.  You might see your baby respond by smiling or opening his eyes wide. Respond to your baby by commenting on his reaction. You might say:

You heard the sound! Let’s listen again. (Gently shake the container) There it is again! I heard it too!

Step 3:  Move the container toward either side of your baby, gently shake it again, and watch as he turns his head to locate the sound. Be sure to continuously comment on his reactions. You might say:

Yay (baby’s name)! You heard the sound again! Let’s listen, where is it now? (If the sound frightens your baby and he begins to cry, discontinue the activity and try again another time.) 

Step 4:  Continue moving the “musical” container toward the opposite direction, allowing your baby to listen and focus on the sound. Be sure that the musical object remains within his sight.

Step 5:  As your baby begins to spend more time on his tummy, try placing the “musical” container on the floor in front of your baby and gently roll it, creating a sound. Comment on your baby’s excitement by describing what he hears and sees.