Strum to Your Own Beat

It’s no surprise to most parents - kids instinctively love music.

“They may start by tapping things or banging on things – but one way or another they’ll look for ways to join into the music making process,” says Susan Smiddy, a board-certified music therapist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“Making music is not only an important part of overall development, but connecting with music also gives kids an outlet and a way to express themselves as they grow,” notes Smiddy. 

Making music doesn’t have to involve expensive instruments and music lessons, however. Sometimes it’s fun to just improvise. Here’s a great indoor activity for a rainy day or any day you just feel like staying inside for a while.

DIY Tissue Box Guitars

You’ll need:

  • Empty tissue box (the long kind where the tissues “pop up”)
  • Rubber bands (different widths if you have them)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Empty paper towel roll (optional)
  • Markers and decorations (optional)


Remove any plastic left in the tissue box opening. Cut the tissue box hole a bit larger if you feel it’s too small for strumming. If you want to use a paper towel roll to give your guitar a more realistic look, place it at one end and trace around the roll. Cut out a hole so you can insert the paper towel roll. Insert the roll about two inches and then securely tape in place.

Now take rubber bands and place them around the tissue box lengthwise (working around the paper towel roll if you are using one). Use about three or four rubber bands. Different widths of rubber bands will give you different tones when you strum, or you can simply use several of the same width.

If your child wants to decorate his or her new guitar, now is the time. Use markers to draw on the box and paper towel roll. Cut out pictures or shapes from magazines or construction paper and paste on the guitar.

Now it’s time to jam!

“Show your child how to strum across the rubber bands to create your own music. Play with different rhythms and sounds— strum slowly, strum quickly, strum one band, strum across all bands. There are no rules, just fun,” says Smiddy.

How Does It Work?

Have a curious child who wants to know how a tissue box can become a guitar? Just like a real guitar, the sound is made by the vibration of the rubber band that creates a sound wave. If you simply hold a rubber band between two fingers and strum it, the sound is very soft. But once we put the rubber band around the tissue box, the vibrations create a louder sound because more air is disturbed. 

Other DIY musical activities from Camp Little Victors: