Monday, November 19, 2007

Make a joyful noise - rhythm instruments

Arielle received some money for her first birthday, and since she already had blocks, a ball, a truck, a doll and every other toy a one-year old could want, I decided to spend the money on rhythm instruments. Not my little brother's drum set that she is playing in the picture -- but simple, baby safe instruments.

At the time, I wasn't so worried about plastic. But, recently I had a "oh no, are they safe?" moment. So I did some research. The instruments, like this Rhythm Set ($18.20) are made by the Israeli company Halilit, and distributed by Hohner in the U.S. I contacted Halilit regarding safety. This is what they told me:

"Halilit products are made in our factory in Israel, with severe quality control standards. All of our products are made of the finest original raw materials and pigments (never recycled) and are bought from well known companies. All the pigments and materials that we use are "food approval", therefore are considered 100% safe by the FDA . All of our products are tested regularly for both ASTM (American safety standard) and EN71 (European standard) full standard . All of our products are phthalate free and do not contain lead."

A wide range of fun rhythm instruments are available in the Early Childhood section of West Music.

The Remo baby drum ($9.95) is made in the USA by a company that also makes drums for professionals. It is part of a collection of toddler instruments made by Remo and designed by Lynn Kleiner - a musician, early childhood educator, and the author of Babies Make Music. This has been a very popular toy in our house, and I may need to get another one.

Recently, I've noticed a lot of non-plastic alternatives for musical play. Palumba offers both birch and cherry rhythm sticks ($6.99 & $8.99), and A Toy Garden has a whole section of music toys ($3.95), including these owl gourd shakers from Peru.

Plan toys makes a rhythm set ($34.90), a drum ($14.99), and a xylophone ($14.99) out of chemical free Thai rubber wood.

And Sounds Like Fun offers a wooden rhythm set ($35.99) made in India (????).

Or, you could just try pots and pans, wooden spoons and bowls, empty water bottles filled with rice or beans (hot glue the cap on), ribbon bracelets with jingle bells, or two paper plates with lentils in between (staple or tape together - and always supervise!).

Whatever you have, turn on some music and play along. Play soft. Play loud. Take turns. If you have several children wear hats and have a parade. Get out the play silks and dance.

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