Maracas: Music, Rhythm and Dance With Your Preschoolers
Making maracas is a fun activity, and one that preschoolers always love. Not only are they easy to make and fun to play with, but they also help children to develop their fine motor skills and increase sensory awareness. Maracas are also great fun to use in circle time or during music play.
Read Shake The Maracas! by Billy Davis, and Music Time: Maraca by Sonia Canals to introduce maracas to the children. You may want to purchase a maraca to pass around the children, and ask them what it feels like and what noise it makes. You could sing this musical instrument song, while shaking the maraca:
When we play our instruments softly
They make a beautiful sound.
Make a beautiful sound.
You could also tell the children about Mexico, and play some Mexican music involving maracas. Maracas fit well into a Mexican theme--or any theme involving music and noise.
Maracas can be made using a variety of household objects. For best results, collect a few different items, and compare the sounds with the children.
You will need:
- Small drink bottles, such as Sunny-D or water, with a screw-on cap
- Paints/Tissue Paper
- Watered-down glue
Decorate the bottles. Children could paint Mexican-style patterns in bright colored paints or any other design they wish. Another idea is to cover the bottle with glue, and stick on squares of tissue paper. Repeat for two more layers, and paint a final coat of watered- down glue to give a glossy finish.
When the bottles are dry, allow the children to add a type of filling. It works better if children use one filling only and does not mix different types of fillings. Screw on the bottle top tightly. You may wish to superglue the top.
Maracas are available to buy from a variety of shops, such as your local music store or from Amazon.
Consider buying maracas made of different material, and allowing the children to hear the different noises from each type. Wooden maracas have a much deeper, more traditional sound than plastic maracas.
Maracas For Development
Maracas can help children to develop in a number of ways. The process of holding and shaking the maracas improves fine motor skills, and being able to make their own music is a great way to encourage creativity. Shaking maracas to a song or tune encourages children to listen to rhythm, and anticipate how the song will change. It can also help to improve memory.
Start a maraca parade. Line the children up and set a rhythm. Then have them walk around the classroom or playground, shaking the maracas to the rhythm. This helps to develop coordination, and the ability to multitask.
Split the class into halves, and let one group play maraca music (to a rhythm you set) while the other half dances to the music, using dress-up clothes or waving lightweight cloths and scarves. Allow them to dance however they wish. This burns energy and increases a child’s natural love for music and dancing. Allow the children to feel the music and find the rhythm, and then have them switch places.
The process of making maracas aids development too, allowing children to express their individuality and creativity on their very own musical instrument. They will also learn that patience is rewarded, by taking the time to follow the project to the end, and having their very own maraca to enjoy and take home. The process of putting items inside the bottle and shaking it is also very good for fine motor skill development and eye/hand coordination.