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Musical Bottles

Age Range
3-9 yrs
Setup Time
5 minutes!
Setup Location
Indoor / Outdoor

Music-making behavior describes what most children do when they make musical sounds and rhythms. It activates their ability to follow the structure of a piece of music (usually a song). This behavior is especially evident under two interdependent conditions.

First, young children are keen to engage in music-making behavior when an adult guides the music activity. The level of musical proficiency of the adult, whether singing or playing an instrument, is not important to children. When the adult is interested in and enthusiastic about leading a song, children readily follow.

The second condition is children’s use of percussion instruments, like drums, maracas, and tambourines, to accompany their singing. Playing instruments reinforces a physical connection with the music’s structure, analogous to the way playing with blocks or dolls facilitates play. When following an adult music leader (an adult who models music making), children as young as 2 years have shown their ability to use instruments and follow a song’s structure with interest and enthusiasm (Morehouse 2012).

Encourage the musician in your child by organizing their own unique orchestra. This activity helps them understand how to work in a group and appreciate each other's roles!


  1. Fill a few juice bottles with different kinds of material, like, water, gravel, bean seeds, lentils, rice etc.

  2. Cap the bottles and ask children to shake the bottles to make their own orchestra!

  3. They can decide the sequence in which they will shake the bottles in order to make different sounding music

  4. Have them practice playing to the tune of their favorite rhyme!

Disclaimer: This presents an overview of child development. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range of development. This information is presented to help parents understand, at a high level, what to expect from their child. Any questions/concerns you may have about your child’s development should be shared with your doctor.