Hatching new scientists every day!

Exploring Drums and Scrapers

Make sounds by tapping containers and scraping surfaces.


Use the same materials used for the Tap and Scrape Learning Center:

  • a selection of empty containers and lids made of various plastics and metals (containers and lids with ridges on the sides make interesting sounds)
  • cardboard boxes and mailing tubes
  • craft sticks, rulers, or unsharpened pencils with erasers for tapping or scraping

Key Science Concepts   

  • Different objects make different sounds.
  • An action has to take place in order for a sound to occur.
  • A sound becomes louder when the force of the action that is creating the sound is increased. A sound becomes softer, or quieter, when the force is decreased.


Introduce, use, and reinforce key terms such as cardboard, plastic, metal and descriptive words such as smooth and bumpy. Also include action words such as tap, knock, drum, and scrape, and science process words such as compare, change, observe.


  1. Invite children to talk about and demonstrate some of the discoveries they made while exploring the Tap and Scrape Learning Center. Children may want to try imitating some of the sounds with their voices.
  2. Let each child choose a couple objects and make as many sounds as he or she can.  As children explore and listen, encourage further investigation by occasionally commenting and/or posing questions. For example:
    • Show us some of the different ways you can use your container to make sounds.
    • How can you make a sound that is louder than that one? How about a sound that is softer?
    • Wow! Listen to that rattle-y sound Megan made. How can you make a rattle-y sound with your objects? Does it sound the same as Megan’s or different? How? Why do you think so?
    •  When Juan put his instrument down on the table and tapped it, I think it sounded different from when he held it in the air and tapped it. Let’s listen. Do you think that would happen to your container, too? How do you think your container would sound?
    • What’s your container made of? Do you think that a (cardboard, metal, plastic) container affects the sound? Can you compare your (cardboard, metal, plastic) container to another one made of the same material?


You might want to model a tapping pattern—for example: long-short-short; long-short-short—and invite children to copy that tapping pattern with their containers.

Reflect and Share

Have children take turns demonstrating the sounds they can make while the group listens. Encourage children to talk about which objects make similar sounds and which make different sounds. Why do they think that is? (For example, Are they made of similar material? Do they have surfaces with similar textures? Is it their shape? Is it how they make the sounds?)