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Make and Play a Bean Tambourine

October 5, 2010
By Donna Erickson

The next time your youngest school-age kids and their friends are listening to one of their favorite CDs, kick up the sound and liven up the beat with a bean tambourine. Make it together with them using craft supplies and other items you probably already have at home.

Here's the stuff you'll need to shake, rattle and roll:

2 sturdy, heavy-duty paper dinner plates with rims

Article Photos

Craft supplies such as markers, crayons, stickers, feathers and a glue stick

Paper clips, chip clips or clothespins

Hole puncher

Long shoelaces or strong ribbon

Assorted uncooked beans and rice

Here's the fun:

1. Set the two plates upside down in front of you. Let your kids use their imagination and creativity to decorate them using their favorite colors and designs.

2. Place the rims together with the decorations facing out, and hold the plates together using clips or clothespins. Punch out holes evenly through both thicknesses, about an inch apart along the rims.

3. With clips still in place, grab a shoelace or ribbon and begin sewing up the tambourine. Thread the shoelace or ribbon in and out of the first two holes, leaving several inches dangling from the first hole. Show them how to use a regular in-and-out style stitch or a whipstitch.

4. Remove clips as you go. When you have about 3 inches left, it's time to add some noise to the tambourine! Pull out containers of dry beans and rice you might have on hand and drop a handful inside through the opening of the plates.

5. Finish sewing up the tambourine, make a tight knot, tie a bow and let what's left dangle. You might want to add a few craft beads and knot them in place on the dangling ends.

Extra idea: When you are ready to add "sound" to your tambourine in step 4, experiment with different kinds of rice and beans and describe the sounds they make. For example, lentils make a soft sound. White rice has a light rainy sound. Kidney beans, a robust sound.

- Donna Erickson's award-winning series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna's Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families."



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