If you ever need a super quick activity to keep your kids occupied, this is such a fun experiment to try! You can make a water xylophone out of wine glasses and water and essentially turn it into your very own personalized musical instrument!
If you are doing this with young kids, I definitely recommend regular drinking glasses. My regular glasses are really thick, and when I tested them with water, they kind of just made a dull “thonk” sound.
So I decided to use wine glasses instead. Which was a great idea in theory – the sound was good, and they definitely looked pretty! But with a 3 year old and a 1 year, old the wine glasses definitely had me on edge!
How to make a water xylophone
Use 6 to 8 identical glasses. Pour the first one nearly full, and then pour each of the rest of them slightly less than the one before. For the size of my wine glasses, I couldn’t get more than 6 good tones, so that’s all I went with.
You can “tune” your glasses if you like by experimenting with adding more or less water to each one until you get the sound you want. I play the piano, and I have a very musical household, so I tried to get my tones as close to real notes as I could.
We added food colouring, pretty much just for fun. If my girls were older, the different colours could have helped with identifying the “notes” and I could have told them to tap different colours to make a song.
For example, we totally could have played Mary Has a Little Lamp with these 6 glasses!
We tried using a pencil, a fork and the sticks that came with my girls’ toy xylophone. Out of all of them, I would say the fork made the best sound.
And you know me and rainbow colours! I would never pass up an opportunity to make and photograph a rainbow coloured kids craft!
Because of the curve of the wine glasses, it was a little hard to get the tones right. You can see in the photo below the water levels for the different sounds. The glass with the most water made the lowest sound, and the glass with the least water made the highest sound.
So the notes below are do, re, mi, fa, so, la (no room for ti and do in my glasses, which drove me nuts).
This was definitely a fun activity, but admittedly, it was probably more for me, than it was for 3 year old Leah. She definitely had fun tapping all of the glasses and getting different sounds, but I was so stressed about her playing with wine glasses that she couldn’t really enjoy it as much as she could have.
It was super easy to do though, and it kept us occupied for quite awhile. So if you are ever up for a fun musical experiment with your kids, you should definitely go for it!