Sunday, April 3, 2011

Xylophones and Outdoor Music (Originally posted May 2010)

These posts were originally published  in May of 2010. Our music area has been updated quite a bit since then, but it will give you some basic instructions for creating the xylophone.

I've wanted to make an outdoor area for music for quite some time.  We had a new fence installed around the play area, and my thought was to put a HUGE xylophone on the fence, like the one we saw mounted on the wall at the U.P. Children's Museum.  However, after being inspired with additional ideas for an outdoor area through following Teach Preschool on Facebook, we have opted to create an entire section of our outdoor play space to making music!

The first project for our Music area was a Giant Xylophone. Here are a few photos as we worked to put it together.

This photo is of our temporary installation. Due to the size of the xylophone, we need to reinforce it with wood, as the string is not strong enough to account for gravity.

The xylophone is made out of scrap 2x4 pieces. We started with a 10" piece and cut pieces up to 40" long, each piece being 2" longer than the previous. The children had fun counting by twos.  Unfortunately, the camera battery needed to be charged when we started our project. A couple of children helped to measure the pieces to be cut with a circular saw. Then each piece was drilled 3" from each end to allow for the string to be thread. The sanding of the pieces was quite lengthly; Two different groups of children helped to sand all of the pieces over two days.


While we were working on sanding the pieces, some of the children opted to re-measure the pieces to make sure that they were cut properly, and deemed themselves "wood inspectors."  We spent quite a few hours sanding all of the pieces.

Then when all of the pieces were ready, the next step was to put them in order, from shortest to longest. This was quite a process......

Finally, after comparing all of the pieces, and a little bit of help... WE DID IT!!!

The next step was to thread the rope through each piece, tying a knot after each one and leaving a little bit of space inbetween each board. We then mounted the long end of the xylopone to the fence with some hinges and put the short end on another 2x4 that we drove into the ground. We debated about mounting it directly to the fence but decided that it would be better if the children could use it on both sides. Gravity definitely took a toll on the install, the rope is having a hard time supporting the weight, and we will reinforce it with another board in the near future.

Tomorrow's plan is to make a metal one made from recycled broken coat racks. Additionally, there will be all kinds of lids from pots and pans, and various wind chimes added.  If you have any thoughts or ideas for addiitonal items, please let us know!

Today, we tested out our xylophone with our hands and a variety of different wooden sticks and spoons.

The next part of our project was to load up a 2x4 with various kitchen instruments. We are still in the process of completing this step, as the morning slipped away from us! The hot sun this afternoon will have to pass before we get started again.

We did have a lot of fun testing each lid as we attached it to the structure:

Pot lids make excellent cymbals!

And they also sound like "bells" when you hit them with a wooden spoon!

We're off to a great start! More to come as our music area progresses!


Jamie @ hands on : as we grow said...

What a fun area! That xylophone looks incredible - very creative and inventive! I would have never thought to make my own. As for the percussion area - how simple :) LOVE!

Jamie @ hands on : as we grow

Pepper said...

I absolutely LOVE this! I wanted to do something like this at the center I used to work at but wasn't able to get it organized. Congrats on your excellent work.

michellel said...

I love it! We have one too. I think the grown-ups love the xylophone as much as the kids do! The neighbors maybe weren't as fond of the pots and pans :)

Tracey M. said...

What a brilliant idea, I LOVE it! The xylophone looks so cool. I love the idea of pot lids for cymbals. We just visited a cousin who had a real drum set (he's 16). My little guy just LOVED banging on it, I have to admit that I did too!!

SquiggleMum said...

That is AWESOME. I've always wanted to build a giant xylophone for the kids. Thanks for the step by step instructions.

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

Wow, that is amazing. I would love to have an outdoor music making area - it's on my neverending list!

martha brown said...

I'm going to try to make a xylophone like this with my kindergarten kids (I'm in Canada -- we start junior kindergarten at 3-4 years old and go to 5 or 6). Thanks for the inspiration!

Unknown said...

How does the xylophone sound?

Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

You can hear the xylophone in this video:

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