Drum Role Play


  • Play drums
  • Homemade improvisations, i.e., pots, buckets, cardboard boxes with wooden spoons

Step by Step Fun!

Play a simple rhythm and have the child repeat that same rhythm. Gradually increase the challenge with longer, more complex rhythms. Then switch roles and have the child play a rhythm for you to repeat. Or sing a familiar song while you both tap to the beat.

Activity Alternatives:

  • For children who struggle with holding the sticks: Build up the bottom of the stick with foam or a towel rolled & taped to it; use any easier to hold “stick” (i.e., paper towel roll); or encourage use of their hands directly on the drums.

Challenge Boosters:

  • Beat to the rhythm of songs to help kids learn to actively listen.
    • Sing along with songs to encourage language.
  • Encourage following directions, i.e., “Beat loud,” “Tap softly,” “Play fast,” “Go slow.” These directions foster learning to follow verbal directions, concepts, and opposites.
  • Have children play the drums to represent how they feel. Demonstrate soft-slow tapping if feeling “sad,” a fast-loud tapping to reflect “excited.” Create different tapping rhythms to represent different feelings with your child (non-verbally).
  • Encourage children to tap along with the syllables or letters as they say or spell words.
  • Play with two or more children taking turns playing/copying a rhythm. This type of turn taking introduces the underlying components of conversations (listening, timing, and replying).

Benefits of Play:

  • Sparks vocalizations and verbalizations timed to the beat of their drumming.
  • Encourages expression of self without the requirement of words
  • Develops coordination using rhythm and timing as children keep the beat of a song or imitate a tapping pattern using the drums.
  • Develops manual skills, foundational for supporting early writing, when using “sticks.”