Ocean Drum Fun!!! A Multi-sensory Activity!

Sensory Bin Ocean DrumAs we are approaching Summer, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite activities from my Developmental Music Group, SING PLAY LEARN GROW. Homemade ocean drums!!  The kids loved making them and the parents loved taking a homemade instrument home!! Over the course of many years, I have modified this activity depending on the season.  For example for Valentines Day, we used heart stickers and red plates, and for St. Patrick’s Day one could use gold, green and yellow beads and sparkles.  The possibilities  are endless!!

As my kids are gearing up to making their very own Ocean Drum, I allow them to explore the textures of the beads, and sequins.  We talk about how they feel and how they sound as we talk about the different colors that we see.  So many learning possibilities with one activity!  As we sit around the bin and talk, I love how some of my kids would use their hands and scoop up the materials and let it slide through their little hands over and over.  Others would use the scooper and scoop and pour and  scoop and pour over and over again. I must add the beads and sequences also make a lovely calming sound which seems to be very enticing to my students.

When we moved onto making the Ocean Drum, I enjoyed watching the kids make choices as to what stickers they wanted to use and where to put them on the plate. I also used this time to see if they could find a blue fish to put in their “ocean” or a red star fish! I made note if the child was able to follow directions, or identify their colors and shapes.  I must add that peeling  the stickers off the sticker sheets is a great way to sneak some fine motor practice into a fun activity! If your kiddos are having a difficult time getting the stickers off the sheets, it is also a great time to teach them how to ask for help!  For kids who need to work on requesting more you could cut all the fish apart and have them ask for one fish at a time or even have them make a choice between 2-3 fish.  You decide based on your student’s needs!!

Once the plate is full of stickers I tell my kiddos its time to feed the fish!!  They then go over and scoop up the beads and sequins and pour it on the plate!  I would recommend having them pour in 2-3 scoops of beads and sequins onto the plate.  This allows some kids to start learning about one to one correspondence as they count to three.

Once the fish are fed, its time to keep the fish safe and put a smaller plate on top!!  Below you will find the instructions on how to make your very own Ocean Drum!!!

I hope your kids will love this activity as much as my kiddos (students) do!!  Please contact me if you have any questions!  I would love for you to share how you are using this activity with your little ones!!


One small clear dessert plate

One dinner plate (solid or clear)   When is do this again I will buy blue plates)

Ocean life stickers

Beads and Sparkles

Hot Glue Gun


Have the child peel off the stickers and place them on the large plate. Most of my kiddos placed them in the inside circle of the plate.  WARNING!!!  If you give them an entire sheet of stickers THEY WILL USE THEM ALL!!! Its up to you how many you want them to use.  Next have the child “feed the fish.”  I purchased plastic ice cream scoops at Walmart and allowed them to explore the sound the scoop made in the bucket with all the beads and sparkles!  I love the sound and the feel of all those wonderful pieces.  Once the fish are “fed” the child needs to catch the fish to keep them nice and safe by placing the smaller plate upside down on the larger plate.  The adult then takes the plates and uses a hot glue gun to secure them  together.  Once the glue has cooled down you are ready to !!  Have the kids move the drum from side to side, tap the drum,  shake the drum fast slow up and down!  The child can also sit quietly and look for their fish.  You could ask, How many fish do you have? Where is the “blue” fish?  Where is the big fish?  The list goes on and on!!  The kids loved making their drums during playgroup today and the parents loved having an instrument to take home!

Target Areas:

Pretend Play, Following Directions, Fine Motor,  Tactile and Auditory Input

Suggested Songs

Slippery Fish, Baby Beluga, Down By The Bay, Octopus Garden


Sitting On The Farm by: Bob King

Sittin on the Farm

Oh how I love to sing books!!!  I am not sure how many I have in my music therapy collection but you can be sure I will be sharing some of my favorites over the next few weeks. 

Sitting on the Farm is a great book by Bob King.  I love to use this book in the springtime during my Farm week.  This book is a great way to teach animal identification, and can be used as an  introduction the food chain. 

I love the repeated lines throughout this book. Especially the “Munch, Munch, Munch.”

Over the years I have used this song/book simply as a book that is sung.  As I sang through each verse I had my students name the animals on each page.  For my students who used adapted switches, I recorded the “Munch Munch Munch” on a big mack and had them push the button at the designated spot in the book. Oh the out break of giggles we received!!

At the completion of the book I asked questions:

Where does this story take place?

What was on the farmers knee?

What did the farmer say when the animal got on his knee?

What did the farmer pick up?

What animal the biggest/smallest?

Was the first picture an animal or an insect?

How many of the pictures are mammals?

Who did the farmer call when the dog got on his knee?

If my students had a hard time recalling the information,  I sang the part of the phrase that gave them the answer.  “I picked up the….”

To meet the continuing  needs of my students, I have created a few adapted books ABSittin on the Farmand visuals to go along with this book/song.  First I made a file folder game where the students had to identify the animal in the song and place it in the number block where it belongs.  My goals for those students were animal identification and ordinal positioning as well as following directions and increasing focus and attention.

I later had a few students who needed strategies to label word to picture. So I created a book where the students were given a “word bank” and were asked to find the animal word that went along with the picture in book. Last year I created an interactive computer program using Promethean Planet so the students could independently play the song and label the pictures during computer time.

For those students who needed to work on impulse control I gave them a drum and told them they could ONLY play on… “Munch Munch Much.” For other groups I had them clap on “Munch Munch Munch” if I needed to work on motor imitation.

Last but not least… I have also used puppets for this song.  I have passed out the various puppets to my students and when they heard their part… they were asked to come to the front and put the puppet on my knee.  For this group I was looking to see if my students could follow 2 step directions, transition from one place to another, take turns, and increase eyecontact with peers.

The ways to use this one song could go on and on!!

I love how one song can work on so many skills!!

On a side note, I like to sing all my songs “live.”  However, if you need a recording, Bob McGrath, has a great upbeat recording of the song I would recommend!! 

If you use this song or have this book.. how do you use it?