Make and Shake Maracas

This project is inspired by You Come From Greatness. We are the extension of our ancestors and the creators of the future. You Come From Greatness is a celebration of Black History. Read about the people who preceded you in American history, and the greatness you could possibly achieve in your own lifetime. 

Written by Sarah Chinakwe (@schinakwe) ; illustrated by Ken Daley (@kendaleyart).

The book makes a reference to music in Black history and culture: "Music is in your blood-- clarinets and saxophones, double bass and big trombones... And here you are, with your drumming and your humming and all your joyful noise."

We walk the land with music about us. Let's gather resources to make our own! In this activity guide, we will be exploring recycles materials to create maracas.

STEP 1 - Gather Your Tools and Materials

When looking for materials to use in this project, consider the following questions: What do I have readily available right now? What are some items that I can use that would make noise when I shake them?

Maracas, by definition from the Cambridge Dictionary, are "musical instruments consisting of two hollow containers filled with beans or small stones. They are shaken to provide the rhythm for some types of music." The rattle of a maraca is often present in Caribbean, Latin, and South American music. With this in mind, we picked the materials below to make music of our own.


  • Scissors
  • Tape (Any kind works. We used packing tape and artist tape)
  • Gluestick/Liquid Glue
  • *Optional: Hot glue. If so, have some gloves handy! However, when using only paper, liquid or school glue sticks would suffice.

Making Materials

  • 2 Toilet Paper Tubes (Paperboard)
  • Different colors of Paper
  • Beads (can be substituted with dry beans, anything round and hard).

STEP 2 - Create your two (2) hollow containers

If you're not already using containers that have closed edges (empty food or plastic trinket containers are a great option for this!), use the Flange cardboard connections technique to close one end of each toilet paper tube. we used tape, and a little bit of glue to stick them together.

STEP 3 - Fill with Beads/Beans and Close the Containers

The trick is to put enough beads/beans that bounce off the container and each other. If we put too many inside, they would be too heavy and might not bounce inside very well. Test it out before you seal the containers for good.

STEP 4 - Decorate your Shells/Containers

We were inspired by the bright, colorful graphics and patterns in the book, so we picked a bright yellow to wrap the maracas in.

Use colorful paper to wrap the containers. Make them pop, just like your personality!

*Protip: Seal the wrapping on your maracas either with the Flange technique, or by wrapping it like you're wrapping a birthday gift.

To add some texture to the instrument, take 2 - 3 other colors of paper and cut them into small shapes. Sprinkle and glue them all over the maracas to give it some festive feel.

Maracas usually come in two! For best results, shake separately. This is how ours sounded.

For Future Adaptations...

Loved this project and want to do more with it? One way to elaborate on this project is to experiment with creating different variations of this instrument.

  1. Try different materials to use for the hollow containers.
  2. Add handles for easy shake-ability.
  3. Different small round objects make different sounds. Try out different fillings you can find!

The goal is to make something that gives us a rhythm, so the possibilities are endless.

Activity Guide by Hanabee Cartagena.


For any tips on how to use specific tools safely, visit our Youtube library for Tiny Techniques. 

Check out this video on how much hot glue you should be using on certain materials.


Visit the Techniques tab in reDiscover Center's Pedagogy Resources  for more activity guides, access our Tiny Techniques videos, and get tips for working safely and efficiently with tools.

Once you have finished your character, share them with friends and family and show them how you take care of yourself, by filling the void in your life in healthy ways! If you want to share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr. We love to see what you make!

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