Tambourines are a great way to explore rhythm and tempo.

Tambourine Activities for Preschoolers

by Susan Rickey

A tambourine can be hit on the leg, tapped on the hand, rattled over the head or swayed way down low. Anyone can shake it, rake it and tap it against her body to make sound. Preschoolers are especially good at making noise. Give them a tambourine and they are not only having fun making sounds, but they are also learning about the elements of music. (You may want to invest in a set of earplugs for yourself!)

Tambourines in Music

Share with the preschooler a selection of music that includes a tambourine. Help the child try to identify the tambourine in the musical selection. The soulful music from the Motown era is a great place to start listening (And who doesn't love the Motown sound?). "How Sweet It Is" by Marvin Gaye or "Kissing My Love" by Bill Withers are two Motown songs to listen for the jingle jangle of the tambourine. Give the child a tambourine and let him play along with a variety of music.

Rhythms with the Tambourine

Bring out the tambourine and teach preschoolers about rhythm. Show the kids how to hit the tambourine on different parts of their bodies. Have them listen to the different sounds the instrument makes when it is tapped on the palm of the hand as compared to when it is shaken over the head. Let them say each other's names to the beat of the tambourine, "Shel-by, Shel-by, Shel-by, Josh-u-a, Josh-u-a, Josh-u-a." Marching around the room to the sound and rhythms of their names while beating on the tambourine is a grand old time for these young kids. (And you can fulfill your teenage wish to be in a band.)

Make a Tambourine

Let the kids make their own tambourines. Give them each two paper plates. Place the faces of the plates together. Staple the plates together. Leave an opening wide enough for the kids to put dry macaroni in the space between the plates. With the macaroni in the middle, finish stapling the plates together. Place a piece of duct tape over the staples. After the kids paint their new tambourines or decorate them with stickers (a less messy choice for you and instant gratification for your tot), let the music begin.

Tambourine's Benefits

Teaching kids about music through playing with a tambourine has rewards that will stay with them for many years. Providing preschoolers with a rich sensory environment by exposing them to the music of the tambourine helps connect brain pathways for learning. It is also an enjoyable way to spend time with young children. Between one and three kids respond to music best by actively moving to it. Handing them a tambourine is a great way to get them active. What better way to spend your day than turning on the tunes, dancing and marching around the house? (Insert earplugs as needed.)

About the Author

Susan Rickey started writing in 1994 with a technology feature article for the "Pioneer Press." She was the writer of the Klamath Forest Alliance newsletter, an environmental organization. Rickey obtained her teaching credential from California State University and acquired her Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas.

Photo Credits

  • Jeff Randall/Lifesize/Getty Images