Today, Christy from Thriving Stem is sharing her Chicken Bone Science exploration with her kids, so I thought I’d share a recent Water Xylophone activity that Ella and I enjoyed, which blended music education and science experimentation in a fun and colourful way!
Rainbow Water Xylophone Experiment
While we have a full music corner in our daycare (complete with a drum set, keyboard, toddler piano, Montessori-inspired bells, boom whackers and more), I also think it can be a lot of fun to make our own music with everyday materials!
We’ve made popsicle stick harmonicas, drums out of recyclable containers, and DIY tambourines – but this water xylophone has to be the easiest homemade instrument yet!
This simple activity combines science, math, art and music! It’s great for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary-aged kids, and you can make it with materials you already have in the house.
We did this activity outside so any spills wouldn’t derail our fun. You can alternatively use a large but shallow plastic tote box to contain any spills.
Here is a free Scientific Method Printable for you to use when designing and leading science experiments with kids (including this water xylophone experiment). The process is simpler than it may seem – simply observing what they are seeing and using those observations to “guess” why something might be occurring is half of the process!
Check out our quick video on how to make your own water xylophone – plus see it in action as Ella shows how simple it is to play! (It’s so fun for me to see 9 year old purple-haired Ella playing it just as enthusiastically as she did when she was 3 and we first did this activity!)
Materials Needed for a Water Xylophone
To start off with, we assembled our materials:
- 6 repurposed baby food jars <– Can use mason jars. make sure that your jars are all the same size. A different experiment can be seeing how different jar sizes affect sound
- Blue, red, and yellow food colouring
- Measuring cup
- Xylophone striker <– we used our striker from our Glockenspiel which has survived over 6 years of regular daycare use
How to Make a Water Xylophone
Ella used the measuring cup to portion out varying amounts of water into each jar. We tried our best to ensure that each jar had slightly less water than the jar previous to it. This took a lot of evaluating and adjusting to get things exactly right.
(The average baby food jar holds 4oz, so your increments should be close to: 1oz, 1.5 oz, 2oz, 2.5oz, 3oz, 3.5oz and 4oz – adjust based on the number of jars you are using.)
We could have stirred the dye to help it set faster, but we sat and enjoyed watching the dye slowly spread throughout each jar and change the entire water contents of each. This is a great opportunity to talk about pollution or how contamination occurs.
Next, I encouraged Ella to use her striker and play her “water xylophone” and she was pleasantly surprised to hear how each colour had it’s own distinct sound. She experimented quite a bit to see if the tones would stay consistent before putting forth some great hypotheses.
Of course, once we were done playing the water xylophone, Ella decided to mix the coloured water together and see how that effected both the colour and the tone of each jar.
I know some people might have a hard time with a child “ruining” the xylophone, but I try to keep the perspective that the whole point is experimenting and being engaged. If she had started mixing the colours before we got around to the xylophone experiment, I would have reminded her why we were setting up the xylophone and said “when you’re done with mixing, you can help me set up a new xylophone.” As long as she wasn’t being destructive (breaking the glass jars, etc) I would be completely fine with steering off course for a bit.
You can work through the printable Scientific Method throughout this activity. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
(The average baby food jar holds 4oz, so your increments should be close to: 1oz, 1.5 oz, 2oz, 2.5oz, 3oz, 3.5oz and 4oz - adjust based on the number of jars you are using.)
You can work through the printable Scientific Method throughout this activity.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
In addition to linking up with Christy’s Kids Kitchen Chicken Science post, there are some wonderful Montessori bloggers sharing their Montessori Music posts today — be sure to check them out too, as part of our 12 Months of Montessori Learning: