Environmental percussion are found sounds that are made from anything in the natural or man-made environment that can be safely banged together, shaken, scraped, blown into, clicked, rattled, tapped, rung, crumpled…

Found sound ideas from home: Pots and pans; spoons, yogurt containers, tins, buckets, steel bowls, hand beater; plastic bottles and fillers – split peas, rice, peppercorns, lentils, small pebbles; rubber bands; soft drink cans, shell necklaces, PVC down pipe…


Found sound ideas from the environment: Sticks; stones; pebbles; shells; drift wood; bamboo; coconut shells…

How to Play Environmental Percussion:

  • Bang together – sauce pan lids, 2 card board tubes, driftwood, sticks, pine cones
  • Shaken or rattled: plastic bottles filled with split peas, rice, peppercorns, lentils; small pebbles, sand, crushed shells or small shells. Make sure bottles are securely taped or fastened

Plastic shaker     Small Stones     Rice    Crushed shells

  • Scraped against – corrugated card board and a finger or back end of a pencil.
  • Blown into – a plastic bottle with a narrow neck, bamboo stick, shell
  • Clicked – click 2 stones together.
  • Plucked – a rubber band stretched over an empty tissue box
  • Rung – a bicycle bell
  • Crumpled – dry leaves can be scrunched in hands or under foot.

Common sense is required in regard to the environmental sounds you let children play with. Please be aware of found sounds that are too small and may cause choking.
Use found sound that fit children’s hands.

Environmental Percussion Treasure Hunt

Use a bag or bucket and collect objects in the environment that could be used to make percussive sounds:

  • Explore your back yard
  • Your neighborhood
  • The Park
  • The Beach
  • The Farm


Environmental Percussion Challenges:

Children play their found sound to the count of 4

# # # #


1 2 3 4

  • Teacher points to the symbols or the numbers (depending on the child’s age) to an even beat (steady pulse). Keep repeating the line without waiting at the end of the line (so you are keeping a steady beat). To start the teacher says “1, 2, 3, 4 go.”
  • Keep playing the found sound instruments in time and sing a song over the pattern e.g. Mary had a Little Lamb; Hey Baby Let’s Rock and Roll; Reach up High.
  • This time choose one of the symbols or one of the numbers and make it louder e.g.

# # # #


1 2 3 4

Make one of the symbols or numbers a soft sound e.g.

Make a silent beat – (keep the sound quiet and only play it inside your head) e.g.

# # #


1 3 4

Double on of the symbols or numbers to make two quick sounds e.g.

# # ## #

1 2 33 4

Let a child be a conductor – remember the conductor has to point to each symbol or number at an even pace. The conductor can use a sparkly wand or chop stick. To start the conductor needs to say “1, 2, 3, 4 go.”

What combinations can you come up with?