Children love music – and these instruments can be made and enjoyed by children with mobility impairments
Place the instruments in a spot where the child can access them most easily (eg, fitted to wheelchair lap-trays or taped to children’s wrists). As far as possible let the children help to cut, fold, decorate, design, choose colours and decide how they would like to make their own instruments. This will help to develop their fine motor coordination as well as boost their enjoyment of music.
Seal one end of the inner of a toilet roll with masking tape. Let the child select and pour some seeds, beans, small shells, or stones filling 1/4 of the roll. Tape the other end closed or use a rubber band and a sheet of greaseproof paper as a lid. Let the child paint the tube, or wrap it in wrapping paper to decorate the shaker. You can also use a matchbox, or other small tubes and boxes, and fill them with various fillers to make different sounds.
Collect an assortment of glass jars or glasses. Fill each jar or glass with different quantities of water (and place on a towel in case the water spills). Get the child to gently tap the rim with a metal spoon and hear the different sounds. You can add a few drops of food colouring to each jar to change the colours. And use a variety of metal bowls or tin cans.
Collect at least six plastic drinking straws. Line them up so that they are all the same length and tape them together using masking or sticky tape. Using scissors, cut each straw shorter than the next so that they look like steps. Get the child to blow across the top of the straws.
Glue four paper plates together to make a firm base. Get the child to decorate the plates using paint or crayons. Make holes all around the outside edge of the plate; using a needle and string, fasten small bells into each hole.
Cut a 25 cm x 5 cm strip of firm cardboard and fold in half. Get the child to decorate the cardboard. Glue a bottle top to each end, making sure the top is facing down. The child can then flick the castanet so the two bottle tops tap against each other.
Dr Emma McKinney is a “children with disabilities” specialist, a post doctoral fellow at Stellenbosch University and owns a company called Disability Included. email: firstname.lastname@example.org