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DIY Craft Kalimba – Homemade Instruments for Kids

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How to Make a Simple DIY Craft Kalimba for Kids

DIY Craft Kalimba

African Instrument Kalimbaバ

Make a Homemade Kalimba to Study Music in Your Next ESL English Class

In my English classes, I always try to incorporate fun activities to keep my ESL students motivated and excited. So I decided to make a DIY craft kalimba with my students at Step by Step Kids Eikaiwa in Japan. It was a fun experience to learn about the unique African instrument. We could also study English related to music and making instruments for kids.

After learning the English words for the materials to make DIY craft kalimbas (paper bowl, popsicle sticks, glue, wood, etc.) , we practiced words related to music (long, short, high, low, sound, note, etc.) If you have more time for this lesson, you can also study other instruments in English and practice the questions, “Can you play the piano?” and “What instrument can you play?” for example.

A DIY craft Kalimba is perfect for this kind of lesson because it’s easy to make and it’s unique. I got the idea from Kodaly and Orff Music Teacher’s blog and made a few modifications. By the way, check the awesome video below of the great sound you can make with an authentic African kalimba.

How to Make Your Own DIY Craft Kalimba from Paper Bowls

DIY Kids Craft Kalimba Materials

decorate a kids kalimba

What You Need To Make A DIY Craft Kalimba with Kids

To make your own kids DIY craft Kalimba, you need the following materials:
  • Two sturdy paper bowls (or plates, or container like a wood box)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Wood glue (this takes a while to dry but it’s stronger than hot glue)
  • Two pieces of wood for the bridge ( 1.5cm x 3cm x 7cm is a good place to start, but experiment to get different tones and sound quality)
  • Scissors, markers, crayons, other decorating supplies
Our English school, Step by Step Eikaiwa, is in Japan, so we got everything above at a 100yen shop. The cost for 1 kalimba was about 50 yen (50 cents), not bad!

Instructions for Making a DIY Craft Kalimba

Step 1

Give each student two paper bowls to decorate. Cut a large hole in the center of one bowl. This is the sound hole.
After the students finish decorating, glue the two bowls together with wood glue.
color and cut the kalimba

Step 2

Glue the wood onto the bowl near the hole in the top half. After that, add a thin line of glue to place the popsicle sticks.

attach the bridge and glue

Step 3

Arrange the Popsicle sticks how you like. Make sure to explain to the students the relationship between the length of the Popsicle stick and the note it makes. Having a sample kalimba already assembled is a great way to demonstrate this. We found that longer Popsicle stick placement had a better sound quality.

put the sticks on

Step 4

After the Popsicle sticks are in place, add another strip of glue over them. You can use a lot of glue this time to make the bridge sturdy. At this point you should wait for a few hours (actual time depends on type of glue and materials.) We waited for 24 hours and tried them out in the following lesson. Check out the videos below to see the results.

add the top and wait for glue to dry

The Results

Fun English Lessons with Real English Conversations

Our students loved making and playing with their very own DIY craft kalimbas. On top of that, they could learn and practice useful English not found in a textbook or by playing games. I highly recommend this activity to any ESL teacher who wants to create a fun learning environment. This is also a fun activity for parents to do together with children. I hope you can make some great sounding kalimbas!

Need more great ideas for fun and easy classroom crafts?

Check out all these cool activities and crafts that are not only quick and easy to make, but also super fun for students.

Any of the activities above combined with BINGOBONGO Sticktionaries create super fun lessons that students will never forget!

2021-05-24T00:17:32+09:00Categories: blog, ESL Lesson Plan Ideas|

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