Paper Plate Banjo

Hi Kid Lab! Sarah here.

I'm so excited to be teaching in our amazing new space at Read With Me. Our first theme this month is such an engaging one—SOUND! Rattles and shakable toys are so thrilling for little babies and the fun of sound keeps growing and growing. We will be making some great instruments and learning a bit about the science behind how our ears work this month at our Play Labs. I had a  blast testing out some simple sound makers that you can make with the kids in your life. This paper plate banjo was fast to put together but it has gotten a lot of love in my house from my 3 and 5 year old. If you want to see more from me you can find me on Instagram @drawpaintprint


  • Two sturdy paper plates

  • Three rubber bands

  • One paint stir (these are often free at the hardware store or a few cents per stick)

  • Hot glue gun

  • Scissors

  • Materials to decorate your banjo- crayons, markers, Do A Dot painters, etc.

Step 1: Decorate one paper plate with any materials you have on hand. We used our Do A Dot painters. 

Step 2: Place three rubber bands around the middle of your plate. You should get different pitches from your rubber bands depending on their size. I found cutting a small notch in the edge of the plate for each rubber band helped to hold it in place.

Step 3: An adult can then use a hot glue gun to glue the second plate to the back of the decorated plate. Whenever I use a glue gun around young children I encourage them to help me count slowly to 20 to make sure the hot glue has cooled down. I test it myself before letting little fingers touch areas with glue. You could also use a stapler to staple the two plates together around the rim. I found that with one plate the banjo wasn't sturdy enough so a second plate was necessary for long jam sessions.

Step 4: Glue the paint stir in the middle of the plate as the handle of your banjo.

Step 5: Strum your banjo!

What kinds of sound makers and instruments have you explored with your child? Tag us so we can see your creations!