Spin Drums

Spin Drums

Design and decorate a handmade spin drum to create a bright rhythmic sound you can dance to! This small musical instrument produces sound when spun, causing attached beads to bounce against the instrument’s body.


  • Cardboard
  • Wooden Skewer Sticks
  • Decoration Materials (pastels, markers, stickers, colored paper, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Craft Glue or Tape
  • String
  • Pony Beads

Step 1: Create the drumhead. Trace a circular lid onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out.

Step 2: Decorate your drum. Use oil pastels, cut paper, markers, and/or crayons to decorate both sides of the circle. Be creative and make it uniquely yours!

Step 3: Attach a skewer to the bottom of the drum head by pushing the skewer between the cardboard layers. Use craft glue to secure.

Step 4: Punch a hole on either side of the cardboard. Thread string through the holes on each side and tie a knot to secure it. 

Step 5: Tie another knot onto the string about an inch away from the hole. Thread two or three pony beads onto each string. Tie another knot to secure the beads on each string, making sure the strings are not too long and that their beads hit the center of the circle.

Step 6: Hold the skewer between your palms or fingers and rapidly spin the drum. The stringed beads will create a unique sound as it hits the center of the drumhead surface.

Ideas to take your spin drums to the next level: 

  • Create a Set of Spin Drums: Make multiple spin drums using different-sized beads. Experiment with the placement and materials of the bead for various sound effects.
  • Form a Spin Drum Ensemble: Invite friends or family members to create their spin drums and form a mini-ensemble. Practice coordinating rhythms and beats for a harmonious performance.
  • Integrate spin drums into a larger musical setup by combining them with other simple instruments like shakers, tambourines, or homemade maracas for a more immersive musical experience.

Learning and Discussion Questions:

1. How does the size and shape of the container affect the sound of the spin drum?

2. What rhythm patterns did you discover while experimenting with the spin drum? Can you create a simple composition using those patterns?

3. How does spinning the drum faster or slower affect the sound it produces?

4. What other everyday objects do you think could be turned into musical instruments? How would you create them?

5. Are you looking to expand your library? Here are our recommended books that connect to this activity: 

  • Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music” by Margarita Engle: This beautifully illustrated picture book introduces kids to the story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke gender barriers to become a drummer. While not specifically about spin drums, it highlights the cultural significance of drumming and how it can challenge traditions.
  • Drum City” by Thea Guidone: This board book introduces young children to various drums from around the world, providing a simple and engaging way to start exploring drumming traditions.

Thank you to our sponsor, PNC Arts Alive!, for helping to make this video possible!

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