Paper Plate Shake Shaker

Musical amusement is yours with 1, 2, 3 ingredients! Creating this DIY instrument gives preschool math, science and small motor skills lots of rhythmic practice.


Keeping small items contained around preschoolers can be challenging. Be prepared for some possible spills.

MATERIALS - click to buy
  1. Paper plates - 2 per shaker. We like to use thin, 9-inch paper plates like these found on Amazon.
  2. Small containers like these with lids to corral your small items
  3. Small items like pebbles, metal washers, dried beans, rice … whatever you have on hand will do. We use a minimum of about 3 teaspoons per shaker. The more you use, the louder and heavier the shaker will be.
  4. Preschooler-friendly drawing materials like big-sized Crayons or washable markers found here. You can learn more about age-appropriate art supplies in our preschool materials guide here.
  5. Stapler and staples like these -OR- Strong tape such as masking tape or duct tape like this 
  1. Skilly Spark: Let’s sing a song together and move as we sing! How about making a musical instrument to accompany us? Now, here we have paper plates and dried beans. They don’t make much noise by themselves, right? How do you think we can we combine them to make them more noisy?
  2. Start by giving your little one two paper plates.
  3. Using crayons or markers, ask your child to decorate the outside of the plates in any way that inspires her.  
  4. Put the second plate on top.
  5. Adults, tape or staple the plate's outside edges together, leaving half open. Be sure to put the staples close enough together so the small items can’t fall out. With adult supervision, older 3's and 4's will love to help do this.
  6. Ask your child to pick up a handful of small items and put them inside their plates. 
  7. Finish sealing your plates completely with either staples or tape.
  8. Now let’s get to shaking!  
Keep the fun going
  • Try a rhythm game! Ask your preschooler reproduce a beat you make, like 3 shakes, a pause, then 2 shakes. Then it’s your turn. Repeat the rhythms your little one creates.
  • Discuss differences. Play your shaker at different volumes and speeds. Or, make 2 of different-sized materials, such as one rice shaker and one bean shaker. Ask your preschooler to tell you which sounds are loud and which are soft, or which are fast or slow. Now hand over the shaker and let them show you how it’s done! 
  • Spice up your dance party. Make shakers as favors, then play, sing and prance away.