Making musical shakers with little ones is such an easy activity with lots of play and learning potential. We have made many of these throughout the years, since Z was a baby but this week R and I made some musical shakers using pasta as the filler. My focus with these toddler games with musical shakers was speech and language, although picking up the pasta pieces one by one and filling up the bottle is also great for developing fine motor skills and precision.

toddler games with musical shakers for speech and language development

 To make a basic musical shaker at home you will need a choice of container such as:

You will also need a choice of fillings such as:

  • Dry uncooked pasta
  • Lentils
  • Uncooked Chick Peas
  • Uncooked Rice
  • Uncooked dry beans
  • Small pebbles
  • Beads (large ones if you are worried your child will put them in their mouth)
  • Marbles
  • Glitter or sequins

The list of fillings could be really endless, you can try whatever you think would be good – and mix and match fillings within your musical shaker or stick to just one. You could make different musical shakers and compare their sounds. Of course, you will need to fix the lid on tightly once your toddler’s musical shaker has been filled.

making home made musical shakers

I gave Mr R pasta for his shaker, because the pieces are large enough for him to easily pick up by himself and place into the container. If you are using smaller items, like grains of rice or lentils you can set up the area with a funnel to pour the filling in to make the musical shaker.

filling home made musical shakers for toddlers


While filling the bottle, you can use this as an opportunity to reinforce turn taking. We do this by saying out loud “Mr R’s turn” & “Mum’s turn”. If your child is quite young and still developing very basic language it’s also a good opportunity to teach language like “more” while they add more filling to the shaker.

toddler games with musical shakers

Once the shaker is made, you can have lots of noisy fun with it! (The tongue is Mr R’s concentrating face! 😀 )

We use the shakers to practise listening, by having Mr R listen out for “Ready, Steady…GO” and then listening and responding to “stop” too.  You can make this into a game, and sometimes use different words like “ready…steady…bananas!” to check if the child is listening.

We use the shakers to practise shaking fast, slow, noisy, and quietly.  You can also use this to practise position words: shake high, shake low.

A fun song that you can use for shaking fast and slow is Twinkle Twinkle Traffic Lights.

Twinkle twinkle traffic light

On the corner shining bright(shaking normally for these two lines)

Red means stop (stop shaking), Green means GO! (shake fast)

Yellow means go but very slow (slow shaking)

Twinkle twinkle traffic light 

On the corner shining bright. (shaking normal or fast for these last two lines)

You can also use shakers to make noise while you dance around or listen to any music that your child likes, using simple language to comment on what is happening.

For more ideas have a look at these articles about making music with toddlers:

Making a drum with your toddler

Egg Shaker Activities (these are a little more advanced)

Using Musical Instruments in Creative Play

You may also be interested in:


Helping your child’s speech and language development

For more simple speech and language ideas, follow our Pinterest board

Follow Anna – In The Playroom’s board Speech and language on Pinterest.

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Games to play with musical shakers to help develop speech and language skills. Ideas for songs and games plus making your own DIY shakers and instruments with kids


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