Experimenting with Percussion Lesson Plan: Creating and Playing Percussion Instruments

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: K-3

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-3, students use BrainPOP Jr. resources to identify and explore characteristics of percussion instruments. Students then create and play their own percussion instrument.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Identify characteristics of percussion instruments.
  2. Create and play a percussion instrument.


  • Access to BrainPOP, a computer, and projector
  • Several tall glasses or jars for each group of students
  • A spoon or pencil for each group


percussion instrument; strike; beat; vibrate; sound effect


Familiarize students with the concept of instrument families (sets of instruments that have several characteristics in common.) You may wish to use the Musical Instruments movie to build background knowledge. The Make Your Own Woodwind Instrument lesson plan is also designed to be used in this unit of study.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Review the instrument families that students have already studied, if any, and explain that they will be learning about a new type of instrument family today.
  2. Hold up a glass or jar filled partially with water and ask students what type of instrument they think could be created with it. Brainstorm ideas with students and accept all responses. Allow volunteers to demonstrate different ways they think the glass can be used to produce sound.
  3. Project the Activity for the class and read through the directions with students. Experiment a bit with several glasses and jars filled with varying levels of water, and facilitate a class discussion about what students observe. Ask students to describe the appearance, sound, and characteristics of the glasses or jars. What real instruments are they similar to? How? What might the instrument family might be called?
  4. Show the Word Wall and introduce the term 'percussion' to students. Share the other vocabulary words, as well, asking students to use the words to tell about their experiences with different instruments and music. What kind of sound effects have they heard before?
  5. Play the Percussion Instruments movie for the class. Pause throughout the movie to discuss the concepts and connect them to students' prior knowledge.
  6. Return students' attention to the glasses/jars. What might be a good name for this new instrument? What makes it part of the percussion family? How is it similar to and different from other percussion instruments featured in the movie? You may wish to use a graphic organizer from BrainPOP Educators to help record and analyze students' responses.
  7. Divide students into small groups to complete the next set of activities. They can experiment with glasses and jars at the same time, or if your students need more supervision and guidance, one group can work with you to complete the percussion Activity while other groups work independently. The independent groups may take the Easy Quiz or Hard Quiz on your classroom computers, completing the Draw About It activity when they're done. Other groups may read books about percussion instruments, complete the Write About It activity as a journal prompt, or explore various percussion instruments you have available.

Extension Activity:

You can provide more in-depth information by sharing the BrainPOP Percussion movie. You can also read some of the FYI information to to students to teach them about famous drummers, quirky percussion instruments, beatboxing, and more!
  • Lisa Chierici

    I started out in BrainPOP, clicked on a lesson plan and wound up in BrainPOP Educators. The Lesson Plan instructs me (5) to play the Percussion Instruments movie, which is in BrainPOPjr and which I am precluded from playing. This makes the entire lesson plan useless! Your subscription prices are outrageously high for just BrainPOP. I can’t afford to pay for BrainPOPjr and BrainPOP Educators, too! If I had known how difficut you make it to access BrainPOP resources, I’d never have subscribed. For $115 I should have the keys to the kingdom!

    • brainpopandrew

      We understand your frustration. But BrainPOP Educators – a resource that’s entirely free – is designed for users of all our products – not just BrainPOP. Some of its lessons may be geared towards BrainPOP Jr., others may be geared towards BrainPOP. That system allows the broadest range of teachers to take advantage of its offerings. Again, we apologize. In terms of pricing, our subscription options are the reason we’ve been able to remain free of advertisements and kid-safe for more than 15 years – while providing you with the highest quality of digital content.