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Drum and chimes

Fun at home activity

Make a drum or musical chimes.

A drum decorated with feathers.


This activity is inspired by the musical instruments in the Journeys gallery at the National Museum of Australia, particularly the amazing dán tre pictured below.

There are many musical instruments in the Museum that tell stories about the people who made or played them. Music is also a great fun way to share and be creative.

You can make an instrument at home with everyday materials, similar to those crafted by kids in the April 2014 'Museum Maestros' Discovery Space program at the National Museum.

 	A blue tin with 'DANTE' written at the top and 'MINERVA SA' at the base. An image of a man dressed in red appears in a central circle on the tin. Bamboo tubing extends from one end.
The dàn tre invented and made by Minh Tam Nguyen. Photo: George Serras.

Here are some ideas for making your own drum and chimes.

Hint: If you are using objects around the house, ask an adult first if it is okay. Be careful of sharp objects. You might need help from an adult with cutting or tying string.

Time and difficulty

Fast and easy! These activities could take under an hour.

Musical instruments


What you need:

  • a short piece of cardboard tube or PVC pipe, about 10–15cm long and across is good. You might need an adult to cut it for you.
  • strong packing tape or a balloon
  • pencils or short sticks to use as drum sticks
  • decorative materials such as paper, cardboard, string, feathers, stickers and textas.


Two decorated drums. One is decorated with cardboard and red and yellow tape, the other is decorated with string and feathers.
  1. Take your tube and completely cover one end tightly with tape to make the drum skin. Or you could cut up a balloon, stretch it over the end and secure tightly with tape.
  2. Decorate your drum with your own personal design. Use feathers and string for an exotic look or coloured paper for a different theme.
  3. If you want to be even more creative, decorate your drum sticks too.

Make a couple of drums, bind or glue them together and you can create a drum set!


What you need:

  • one long stick (about 20–30cm) and one shorter stick
  • fishing line, wool or string
  • metal or ceramic objects such as bolts, screws, old keys (preferably with holes that can be threaded or tied)
  • tape.
A set of chimes made from a stick wrapped in wool and string that has a variety of bolts and screws dangling from it.


  1. Wrap tape, wool or string around the ends of your long stick to ensure that the chimes you make won’t slip off the end.
  2. Cut lengths of line or string for as many objects you have to hang.
  3. Tie the objects with the string along the stick, evenly spaced. You might need an adult to help you with this, as it can be a bit tricky.
  4. Use another stick to gently strike your chimes, or hang it outside to hear music playing in the breeze.

Share your creation

Congratulations: you are finished!

Can you think of other household items that you might be able to use to create an instrument? Have fun playing your new instruments!

Share your creation with us by sending a photo to:

We will add your photo to the National Museum’s Flickr stream, where you can see other craft creations from our Discovery Space.

Discovery Space

All of our fun at home activities are based on Discovery Space school holiday activities and are developed for kids to do at home if they can’t come to the Museum.  Check out what kids thought of our activities at the Museum.

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