According to the National Institute for the Education of Young Children, playing with music forms a basis for early mathematics, but you don’t need that excuse to have fun with your little ones. In a conga line, children will be dancing to the 1-2-3-kick beat. Noisemakers can encourage participation among shy children and help the little ones find the beat.
What little one doesn’t like to bang on a drum? Cover large empty containers, like the ones used for oatmeal or protein powder, with paper and allow children to decorate them. Children can then bang on their drums with a spoon or stick.
Shakers are perhaps the easiest noise maker to make. Simply fill a paper cup halfway with dried beans or rice, then tape another cup to the top. Alternatively, you can use a paper plate or a plastic egg that opens up. The key is to tape the two sides very well. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at a big mess and a few unhappy children.
Kids as young as 4 years old probably have the fine motor skills necessary to string small bells together. Choose large bells with a relatively big “loop” at the end, and have children put a few onto a ribbon. You can then tie a knot by the bells to keep them together, then tie another knot to create a large loop for the child’s hand. Alternatively, use elastic, so that children can easily strap them on their wrists like bracelets.
Children can weave bells onto the outside of a paper plate or other sturdy circular object using ribbons. For additional decorations, you can have them draw a design on the outside or put ribbon streamers dangling down. If you do have streamers, cut them short enough that children won’t trip as they dance the conga.