What are the best preschool instruments?

by | Dec 9, 2023 | Preschool Music Lesson Plans

When developing our preschool music curriculum, we decided on the following criteria for choosing the best preschool instruments to buy for the children

  • ease of playing – ‘child friendly’
  • clear fine sound
  • safe
  • durable
  • variety
  • purpose (developing rhythm / melody / sound discrimination)

Here’s that list of high quality musical instruments from our first preschool educator’s book, Sing and Play 1:

The Equipment Set for Sing and Play

… arrange to have an instrument set with at least as many multiples of the recommended instruments as there are children. It is best if each child has the same instrument at the same time, but you can expect children of this age to take turns as long as they don’t have to wait for too long. You will also need one more instrument for the adult leading the session and enough for other adults involved so that they can model good playing.


Based on a group of ten children and two adults you would need as a minimum number:

  • 12 sets of sleigh bells – a good size is 3-5 large bells on a handle
  • 12 pairs of rhythm sticks  – also known as claves, tapping sticks, clap-sticks
  • 6 pairs of castanets – wooden or plastic; the pair can be shared
  • 12 small or 4 large drums – make sure they are sturdy; some come with guarantees
  • 12 pairs finger cymbals – with wooden knobs, not elastic straps
  • 12 guiros- also known as scrapers
  • 12 shakers – also known as maracas, egg shapes work well
  • 12 sets of chime bars – one octave, diatonic showing the notes names CDEFGABC1

You will need other pieces of equipment:

  • 12 hobby horses – optional, substitute large cardboard rolls or imagination
  • 14 translucent scarves – multiple colours, cover the visible colour spectrum
  • audio recordings – instrumental music for the music appreciation activity

You will also need a collection of picture books with large pictures.

Here are some images of the instruments with their names. We also have them for sale. Find out more on our Instruments Page.

Junior Sleigh Bells

Junior Sleigh BellsSleigh bells are easy to play and make high-pitched sounds to stimulate the upper range of frequency receptors in the brain

Junior Claves

Junior Claves - Pair

The pair of claves are easy to play & make short, clean sounds, essential to any percussion band

Junior Castanets

Junior Castanets Pair

The pair of castanets are easy to play & make short, sharp sounds that your children will begin to recognise in recorded music

Lollipop Drum

Lollipop Drum 8The Kids Percussion® Lollipop Drum® is an easy to play frame drum shaped like a lollipop and features a pre-tuned graphic drumhead with a warm, resonant sound.

Finger Cymbals

Finger cymbals are easy to play and make a high-pitched sound with a long decay that can be tracked by holding a cymbal near each ear

Junior Guiro

Guiros are easy to play & feature a warm sound that is quieter than many percussion sounds

Egg Shakers

Egg shakers are easy to play & feature soft sounds that are quieter than many percussion sounds. This style of maraca is eye-catching when seen and irresistible to touch and play

Chime Bar Set

The yellow plastic carry case contains 8 separate chime bars C4 TO C5 with the note names C D E F G A B C. Each chime bar has its own letter name, number and colour.

Playing music together is social super-glue

It’s easy to understand that the obvious benefit of playing musical instruments together in preschool is in social cohesion. That’s because when we think of music we immediately think of musicians — and musicians naturally band together because they need to communicate musically with each other and their listeners. It’s a driving force in human nature.

What’s the take-away from this post about the best preschool instruments? Learning music together makes social interaction easier for children. That’s what I’d like you to share with your families and co-workers — the simple message that playing music together is social super-glue.

How do we play music together successfully? We simply must give our preschoolers the best preschool instruments that are high quality and friendly for young children. Why? Because when they are all playing the same kind of instrument, they can actually hear what is happening with the rhythm, melody, timbre and other musical elements. Because giving them regular opportunities to play together is good not just for learning how music works but also for the pure pleasure of playing in sync with other humans. Because when they  are moving in sync, they are watching and learning from each other as well as from us grownups.

Watch them thrive as they learn to play together on safe, durable and beautiful sounding instruments. They will surprise and reward you. Get the right instruments!

Get a music program that works from our online shop


Biddiss, Carol 2008. Sing and Play 1: Singing All Day Long Educator’s Book, Musical Child, Semaphore South Australia.