Paper Plate Tambourines

Sep 2, 2015

These tambourines really jingle and jangle! Your kids will love tapping out their own music with instruments they’ve made themselves! 

The creative process is a whole lot of fun. Plus, while you’re crafting, you and your kids can talk about music in general and about the particulars of this interesting instrument.

Grab your supplies—it’s time to have some fun!

You Will Need:

  • very sturdy paper plates (do not use the thin, flimsy kind)
  • acrylic paints
  • paint brushes
  • hole punch
  • string
  • ribbon
  • shells and buttons (you could also use beads, small bells, bottle caps, etc.)

paper plates, ribbon, paint, shells and other supplies for paper plate tambourines.


1. To begin, I set out an assortment of paint colours and the girls decorated both sides of their paper plates.

Kids paint paper plates.

2. While the plates dried, we made our “zils”—the small cymbals that jingle on a tambourine.

To string our shells and buttons together, we paired up two similar sized shells or buttons and threaded a 4-inch length of string through their holes. We knotted the string and left a tail of string so we could attach them to our plates.

We made six sets of zils for each plate (using 12 buttons and 12 shells for each plate).

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3. To attach our shells and buttons to the tambourine, we used the hole punch to make six equally spaced holes around the rim of each plate.

Then, we threaded our string through the holes and knotted the string to secure the shells and buttons in place. Then we trimmed the tails of the string.

A collage of photos showing how to attached zils to the paper plate.

4. To finish, we added one last decorative touch by threading long lengths of ribbon through each of the holes in the paper plates.

A finished paper plate tambourine.

And now it’s time to make some music!  The hooligans had a blast dancing and tapping, shaking and rattling their homemade tambourines.

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Read more from Jackie here.

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.

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