Juice Bottle Jingles

By filling juice bottles with different amounts of water, you can create some catchy tunes! Here's how to do it with real bottles at home.  Get six glass juice bottles or very tall drinking glasses and fill them with different heights of water to make a six note scale.  (Use your voice or a piano to see if you're in tune!)  Number your bottles, starting with the one holding the most water.    

1.   Why do the different amounts of water in the bottles create different notes when the bottles are tapped?  Tapping the bottles with the stick causes the glass of the bottle to vibrate and produce sound.  The water dampens these vibrations.  So, the less water in the bottle, the faster the bottle vibrates and the higher the pitch.

2.   Instead of tapping your bottles, blow into them.  Notice anything different?  The effect is the exact opposite!  The bottles with the most water in them make the highest notes. This is because you are now making the air (not the glass) vibrate.  Shorter columns of air will have a higher pitch when you blow, just as shorter columns of water have a higher pitch when you tap them.  The bottles with the shorter air columns are the ones with the most water in them.

3.      Songs to try:

Mary Had a Little Lamb                                Jingle Bells

 3212333 222 355                                   333 333 35123

 3212333 322321                                    444 4433 3355421


Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star             This Old Man

 11 55 66 5 44 33 22 1                         535 535 6543234

 55 44 33 2 55 44 33 2                         345 1 111 12345

 11 55 66 5 44 33 22 1                         5224321


Musical Phone Numbers

Materials: ten identical tall glasses, water, ruler, teaspoon, grease pencil

1.       Hold up a ruler to the side of a glass. Measure the height of the glass, then subtract 1 inch for room at the top.

2.       Divide this measurement by 10, and with a grease pencil draw lines to indicate the 10 sections on each glass.

3.       Fill the first glass with water up to the first section.  Label this glass number 1 with the grease pencil.

4.       Then fill the second glass up to the second section.  Label it 2.  Fill the next glass to the third section and label it 3, and so on until the tenth glass is filled with water to the tenth section.  Mark off the tenth glass with the numeral 0.

5.       After all the glasses are filled with appropriate amount of water, line them up in order from 1 to 0.

6.       With a teaspoon, gently tap the first glass near the rim and listen for the sound.  Notice the tone, then tap the second glass.  As the numbers get higher and the amount of water increases, you should hear the tones get lower.

7.       Using a teaspoon, have one person tap his phone number on the glasses.  For example, if the phone number is 555-1234, the student will tap the glass labeled number 5 three times, then go on to tap 1, 2, 3, then 4.  Listen to the sounds and notice the notes being played.  How does it sound?

8.       Give everyone a turn to play his or her own phone number.


Soda-Bottle Orchestra

Collect an assortment of narrow-neck bottles, such as soda bottles.  Have the boys blow across the openings to make tones.  Help them figure out that the shape and size of the bottle determines the sounds it will produce.  Next, have them add water to the bottles, blow, and notice the difference in tones.  Help them figure out that as they add more water to the bottle, the tone gets lower.


Glass Band

Set up five or six glasses, each filled with a different amount of water, on a table and ask for volunteers to be in the band.  One at a time, have each boy wet his index finger with water (vinegar works even better) and rub it along the rim of a glass.  Notice the different tones. Then have the band play together.  Can they play a song?


Paper Flute

Materials:  cardboard tube from paper towels or kitchen wrap; waxed paper, rubber band, sharp point, such as an ice pick.

Cut a circle of waxed paper, about 5” in diameter.  Wrap the waxed paper over the end of the tube, and attach by wrapping a rubber band around it.  Have your adult partner help you to punch holes down the side of the tube, 1” apart. Whistle, sing, or blow into the flute while covering various combinations of holes for different tunes.


Soda Straw Oboe

Materials:  large soda straw, scissors

Flatten one end of a large soda straw about ¾” from the end. Cut off the corners of the flattened end diagonally.  Blow gently through the flattened end.  To make a higher note, trim the other end of the straw.  The more you cut off, the higher the note.


Pie Pan Tambourine

Materials: aluminum foil pie pans, dry beans, rice or gravel, stapler, crepe paper

Put the beans, rice, or gravel in one pan.  Put the other pan on top and staple the rims together.  Attach some crepe paper streamers and it will look as good as it sounds.


Easy Kazoos

Materials: toilet paper tubes, crayons or markers, wax paper, rubber bands, stickers, (optional), something to poke holes in wax paper

Have the Cubs color and stick stickers on their tube.  Make sure to add their names somewhere on the tube.  Cut a square of wax paper big enough to cover one end of the tube.  Use a rubber band to secure the wax paper onto one end of tube.  Use a pencil or scissors to poke small holes in the wax paper (4-6 holes).  They can talk or make noise into the end of the tube that is not covered.  The sound should be really cool!

Noisy Shakers

Materials: any clean container that has a seal-able cap, rice or beans or small pebbles

Fill the clean container about 1/4 full of the rice (or beans or pebbles).  Attach the cap; you may have to hot glue it to keep it closed.  Paint and/or decorate the container.  Shake them up and shake out a beat!  Note: If you make multiple shakers from the same type container, experiment with putting different amounts of rice in each, or use beans instead to make the sound.  You should be able to hear different pitches of sound.


Tin-can Bongos

Materials: 1 large and 1 small coffee can, with lids; masking tape

Bongo drums are percussion instruments that come in sets of two, each making a different tone when you tap it.  Snap the lids onto the cans so they fit tightly.  Turn the cans upside down on a table, side by side.  Have a friend hold the cans while you wrap two or three layers of tape around them to hold them together.  Turn them right side up and they’re ready to play.  Place them in your lap.  The smaller drum vibrates faster and gives out a higher sound than the larger one.


Oatmeal Drum

Materials:  Empty Oatmeal box with cover, yarn, pen, 2 pencils, 2 spools, construction paper, crayons

Before beginning, you can decorate the oatmeal box with construction paper and/or crayons for a colorful effect.  Place the cover on the box.  Use a pen to make a hole in the center of the cover and in the center of the bottom of the bottom of the box.   Through these holes, pull a piece of yarn long enough to hang around the scout's neck and down to his waist.  For drumsticks, place spools on the end of the pencils and secure with glue, if necessary.


Chiming Forkbells

This one is really cool! You will think you're in Europe when you hear what sounds like bells chiming across the mountains and you don't even need to leave your kitchen.  Here's how.  Tie some string around the handle of a fork.  Wrap the long ends of the string several times around each of your index fingers and place them inside your ears.  Tap the fork against something (like a pencil or your desk) and listen to the sound.  WOW!  How does it do that?  The string carries the sound waves through the fork, up the string, to your fingers and into your ears.


Rubber Band Strummer

Materials: book, paper cup, rubber band

Place the paper cup on the book with the open end up.  Stretch the rubber band the long way around the book and over the cup.  Slide the cup close to one end of the book.  Strum the part of the rubber band that goes across the open cup.  Then strum the stretched part of the rubber band that goes down each side.  Each area of the rubber band makes a different sound.  Tune your cup to play three sounds you like by moving your cup and testing the sounds.  When you hear three notes that sound good together, you’re ready to play.


Walnut Maracas

Crack open a walnut and clean out the insides. Sand the walnut’s end so that you can insert a Popsicle stick and the halves will still go together. Put a few popcorn seeds, split peas, etc. inside one of the halves. Put glue on the edge of one of the halves and one end of the Popsicle stick.   Put the walnut together with the stick in between the halves. Put a rubber band around the walnut to hold it together until the glue dries, several hours. You can decorate your maraca with paint or permanent marker or with clear varnish.

Soda Straw Clarinet

Materials: paper drinking straw, needle, ruler, scissors

Pinch one end of the straw to make a smaller neck in the straw.  Flatten the short end beyond the neck and trim it in a triangle shape.  Put this end of the straw in your mouth and practice blowing hard until you get a low, loud sound.  Now use the needle to punch 5 holes in the straw about one inch apart from each other.  Don’t push the needle through both sides of the straw.  Use a small scissors or wiggle the needle around to make bigger holes.  Now place the straw in your mouth and cover all the holes with your fingers.  Blow.  You should hear the same sound you did before.  Beginning with the bottom hole, uncover the holes one by one.  Each hole you uncover will make your clarinet play a higher sound.


Bottle Trombone

Materials: plastic bottle, drinking straw, water

Be sure the bottle is almost as long as the straw.  Rinse the bottle and fill it three-quarters full of water.  Place the straw into the water.  Holding the straw in one hand and the bottle in the other, blow a thin stream of air across the top of the straw.  You should hear a soft whistling sound made by the vibrating air in the straw.  Now move the straw up and down as you blow through the straw.  When most of the straw is in the water, only a short part of the tube is filled with vibrating air and you hear a higher sound.  When most of the straw is out of the water, the air-filled part of the tube is longer and you get a lower sound.