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


Do you Hear What I Hear?


Today in my medical fragile classrooms I sang the traditional Christmas song “Do You Hear What I Hear?”  As I sang the song, “Ms. Shae style,”  I introduced different sounding instruments to my students. First singing “Do you hear what I hear?  I repeated this several times while I played the selected  instrument.  As I walked from student to student I looked to see if the students were tracking the sounds, and if they were able to focus on the instruments.  I then sang, “A bell, a bell, do your hear the bell. Do you hear the bell as I play… now let me hear Megan play.”    The students LOVED this activity and love when I put their names in the song we are singing.   I was able to introduce the following instruments in one session; wind chimes, bells, castanets, finger cymbals, drum, tambourine, triangle, cabasa (I did change the words during this verse to feel and rolled the cabasa up an down the students arms and legs) and a vibrotone.  The students and the teacher loved the activity so much I may just have to pull this one out at other times of the year.

After the session I shared with the teacher how she could change up the words even more to say do you see what I see, what I feel etc.
Later in the day, I tweaked the activity a little more and used the song to facilitate choice making.  I started out with “Do you hear what I hear?” A bell a bell, who wants to play the bell? Who will play the bell for me? Who will play the bell for me?”  I then had the student play the instrument one time and put it under his/her chair and fold their hands.  We repeated this until everyone had an instrument.  Once everyone had an instrument I accompanied the students on my guitar as we played through a medley of carols.
I wish I could take full credit for the idea but I can’t.   I recently purchased a book called Sensational Songs and Activities by Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BC and one of her song suggestions was my springboard for this suggestion.  Her ebook is packed full of great ideas to help jump start your creativity!!  You can check out her blog and her book @ www.WHmusictherapy.com

I do hope you have a wonderful day!!