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Making Maracas

Make two maracas, each with a very different sound.


  • empty, clean soda or water bottles (about 20 ounces), with a screw-on cap (each child will need two)

Key Science Concepts

  • An action has to take place in order for a sound to occur.
  • Different objects make different sounds.
  • Sounds vary by volume (loud or soft) and pitch (high or low).
  • A sound becomes louder when the force of the action that is creating the sound is increased and softer, or quieter, when the force is decreased.


Use and repeat descriptive words such as fast, slow, loud, soft, quiet, rattle, as well as words related to science, such as compare, same, different, test.


Tell children that today they are going to make an instrument called the maraca, which comes from South and Central America, and the Caribbean. Maracas are rattles played by shaking them. People usually play two maracas at the same time. Ask children if they’ve ever seen or heard them before. Ask if this reminds of them of an activity they did last week (Shake and Listen).

  1. Hand each child two empty bottles and tell them that they will make two maracas by filling the bottles with some of the small objects on the table. Give them a challenge: Can you make two maracas that sound very different from each other? Ask: What are some ways you can make the maracas sound different?
  2. Allow children to choose which small objects the want to fill their maracas with. Encourage them to test the sound as they work, adding or subtracting objects until they achieve a sound they like. When they’re done, have them screw on the cap and play their maracas.


If there’s time, they can decorate their instruments by drawing on construction paper and fastening their drawings around the bottles, using tape.

Reflect and Share

Have each child demonstrate their two maracas for the group, describing the differences in the way they sound. Record the differences between maraca #1 and maraca #2 on chart paper. Ask:

  • How did you go about making one sound different than the other? How would you describe the differences between the two? Which one do you like the best? What do you like about the sound?
  • If you added more than one type of object to your maracas, what do you hear? Can you hear the sounds of the different objects, or do they blend together and are hard to tell apart?
  • Let children experiment with getting lots of different sounds from their maracas by adjusting the way they move them. Can they make soft, sleepy sounds? Scary, rattle-y sounds? Sudden jumpy sounds?

Then put on the music you played during Freeze Dance and have everyone shake their maracas to the beat. Make an audio recording of the music.