When it comes to developmental stages, the growth charts should include a "kinder-percussion" phase. If you have 2- or 3-year-olds, you know that's when the kids go into the kitchen cabinet and haul out anything that clangs! They bang tin pots and pans together like cymbals. Even the cabinet door itself, when swinging back and forth, adds a "squeak!" It's the best fun.

As your kids grow, the basic skills that develop through simple musical play can whet their appetites for great experiences later in life. Here is a minidrum set, complete with cymbals you and the kids can create from tin cans, sticks and beads.

Collect and paint various sizes of empty, clean soup and vegetable tin cans. Be sure edges are smooth and labels are removed before you apply paint in bright colors. Decorate with stickers, or glue on pompoms and other whimsical craft charms.

Wrap strong paper that has been cut in circles over the open end of some of the cans. Hold the paper in place with rubber bands. Turn the rest of the empty and decorated tin cans open side down on the table. Use wooden and metal spoons to tap or bang out a rhythm. The eraser ends of unsharpened pencils also make good drumsticks. Or, slide colorful beads on the end of a dowel or wooden toy stick making sure they fit tightly in place.

For fun, play a game of "echo." Hit the cans and challenge others to repeat what you have done. Vary the sounds even more by using cardboard oatmeal boxes and plastic deli containers turned upside-down.

For minicymbals, thread a bead 3 inches down on a wooden skewer. Glue in place, then thread a smooth frozen juice can lid with a hole poked through its center, onto the skewer. Add another bead and a second lid. Top with another bead and glue in place. Tape the opposite end to the side of a tin can. Hit with drumsticks as you play on the minidrum set.

Extra tip: The next time you purchase a fresh coconut, crack it in half and save the two halves. Lay each half on the table open end down. Glue a large bead on the top of each half for handles. Clap them together to create a "clip clop" sound.

Note: Instruments with small parts are not appropriate for ages 3 and under.


Write Donna with your questions and ideas at www.donnasday.com. Donna's latest book, "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families," is available in bookstores nationwide. © Donna Erickson Dist. by King Features Syndicate