Rubber Band Music

Play high notes and low notes on a rubber band guitar.

Materials

This activity uses the same materials as the Pluck! Learning Center:

  • rubber bands of different thicknesses
  • shoe boxes, bread pans, and other open containers around which the rubber bands can be stretched

Note: It is important to try out these materials prior to the activity so that you can choose rubber bands that produce satisfying tones of different pitches when stretched around the boxes.

Key Science Concepts

  • Sound is caused by vibration.
  • An action has to take place in order for a sound to occur.
  • Sounds vary in pitch (high or low).

Vocabulary

Encourage children to use descriptive words such as vibrate, rhythm, volume, and pitch, high, and low, as well as action words such as pluck.

Directions

  1. Gather children around the materials and invite them to talk about and demonstrate some of the discoveries they made while exploring similar materials at the Pluck Learning Center. Have children join you in making “rubber band guitars” by placing rubber bands around shoeboxes, bread pans, or other open containers.
  2. Have the children look at how the rubber band moves when they pluck it and ask them to describe what they see. Introduce the word vibrating to describe what the rubber band is doing (wiggling back and forth). For another example of vibration, have children repeat an activity they did last week: putting their hands on their throats as they talk, sing, or buzz. Can they feel the vibrations in their throats?
  3. As children explore making sounds with the rubber bands, talk about what you are hearing: I hear a lot of different sounds from the guitar. Let’s try plucking these two rubber bands. What differences do you hear? Is it higher or lower in pitch? Is it louder or softer? What do you think might be making a difference?
  4. In plucking their guitars, some of the children may use their other hand to pick up the length of rubber band stretched over the top of the box, stretching it tighter and changing the pitch of the sound. The more you stretch the rubber band, the higher the pitch will get. If this happens, point it out to the children, and encourage them to try it. If not, demonstrate doing it yourself. Encourage children to explore making music with high and low sounds on their rubber band guitars.
  5. Record some of the sounds they make. Or let each child record his or her own sounds.

Reflect and Share

Play some of the children's recordings. Invite children to dictate “How to Make a Rubber Band Guitar” while you write the instructions on chart paper. Have materials available so children can try out the instructions and reword or clarify if needed. Encourage children to include directions or tips about how to play high notes and low notes on the guitar. They may want to share their instructions with their families.

Extension

Have children sing and play their instruments, making the same sounds and rhythms that Violet made on her guitar: Twang, Twang, Yeah, Yeah, Twang, Twang, YEAH! Then ask them to make up their own rhythms and songs.