Lesson Title: Instruments From Around the World
How do musical instruments represent a culture and its
Essential Question: environment?
How does the geographic area impact what the instrument is
Guiding Question(s): made of?
Created by: UNM Summer Technology Academy 2004
Intended Grade Level: 3 -5 Grade
Subject Area(s) or Topic(s): Geography
This lesson is designed to help students realize how raw materials found in a specific location
affect the types of musical instruments that are created and used by the local people.
Students will make predictions about the origins of specific instruments based on what they
are made of. They will then design and create their own instruments with given materials.
Research raw materials and where these materials could be found to make the selected
Make a prediction about the origins of several primitive instruments.
Design and create instruments with specific materials that can be found in their environment.
New Mexico State Standards
Content Standard II - Geography
Students understand how the physical, natural, and cultural processes influence where people
live, the ways in which people live, and how societies interact with one another and their
Content Standard II - Writing and speaking for expression
Students will communicate effectively through speaking and writing.
Resources and Materials
A raw materials map is provided as a resource for the students to use.
Reproducible “Letter to Parent or Guardian”, listing the materials that need to be collected for
final project. Materials include household goods that could be easily collected.
For teacher resources you may find the following websites helpful:
This is a conch shell that can be labeled.
These two sites provide a map and some information about Colima, Mexico.
This site tells how the didgeridoo is made naturally.
This site provides background knowledge about the instrument gender from Indonesia.
This site includes the history of the Sarangi and even a picture.
Students will need to know how to use research materials and have a basic understanding of how to
read a map.
1. Students will research to find out what raw materials are available in the following locations:
Mexico, India, Australia, Indonesia, Polynesia. Have them use the Raw Materials map
(provided on page 3) and teacher provided research materials.
2. Applying the background knowledge gained from the research, students will make predictions
about the types of instruments that might be found in each area.
3. Students will then take their predictions and participate in a class discussion guided by the
teacher. Using the Maxwell Museum “Instruments of the World” site, ask students to help
discover which instruments come from the locations they researched.
4. Divide students into groups. Provide each group with a selection of “raw materials” that they
are then responsible for turning into musical instruments. (For example, one group could
receive a collection of cardboard boxes and string, another a pile of aluminum cans and
sticks.) In addition to creating an instruments, the students should also write a description of
what their instrument does and what raw materials it is made from.
5. Provide work time for each group to complete instruments.
6. Hold a “concert” for groups to share their completed instruments with the class.
Students will be assessed on completion of instruments and on their group cooperations skills.
Col, Jeananda. Enchanted Learning. http://www.EnchantedLearning.com 1996
Information and Pictures:
In India it is common
for goats to graze on
Colima, Mexico is 280 miles West uncultivated land during
of Mexico City. It is also home to Monsoon season. Large
the Colima Volcano. This volcano trees grow abundantly.
is the most active volcano in
In Australia, eucalyptus branches
The Polynesian Islands were are hollowed out by termites.
made from volcanoes. They use
hydropower for some of their http://kauai.net/bambooweb/bambooslides/bamboojp
Bamboo can be found in
Dear Parent or Guardian:
Over the next few weeks we will be studying musical instruments from around the world. The
instruments we will be studying are listed on the Maxwell Museum website www.unm.edu./~Maxwell.
We will be creating our own instruments in the classroom in two weeks. The instruments will be made
out of material found at home. We are asking that each student please start collecting these materials
and bring them to class. Any of the following materials would be useful:
plastic milk jugs
plastic liter coke bottles or water bottles
empty cottage cheese or yogurt containers
metal cans (such as clean vegetable cans)
empty paper towel rolls
string or yarn
anything else that you feel might make a great instrument!
If you can volunteer at the time we will be making the instruments, or have any questions please feel
free to call me.