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How to Make Paper Instruments

Banjo Box

Strum along on a banjo box.
Strum along on a banjo box.

Plink, plank, plunk on a banjo box! Transform an everyday box and some rubber bands into a musical instrument that's sure to provide hours of entertainment.

What You'll Need:


  • Box, approximately 4 x 6 x 1 inches, with lid
  • Acrylic paint: Brown, yellow, red, blue
  • Yellow card stock
  • 5 rubber bands of varying thicknesses and colors
  • Wooden paint stick
  • 3 toothpicks
  • 6 wooden beads, 9.5mm
  • Yellow dimensional paint


  • Pencil
  • Craft knife
  • Paintbrush
  • Black felt-tip marker
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue

Note that this craft requires adult help.

Step 1. Download the banjo pattern as a PDF and download the banjo opening pattern as a PDF. Enlarge the banjo opening pattern to fit on your box with at least a 1-inch margin on all sides, and trace the pattern on a folded piece of paper. Center the opened pattern on the inside of the box lid. Trace around the pattern, and ask a grown-up to cut out the oval using a craft knife. Paint the lid brown if desired; let dry.

Step 2. Enlarge the banjo base pattern to fit the narrower end of your box. Trace the pattern onto yellow card stock. Outline the shape with black marker; use scissors to cut out. Fold the glue flap back on the dotted line, and glue this flap to one end of the box lid.

Step 3. Stretch five rubber bands lengthwise across the box, centering them so they will be visible through the oval opening on the box lid. Place the lid on the box, and glue it in place.

Step 4. Paint the paint stick yellow, and let it dry. Glue it to the back of the box with one end sticking up to use as the banjo handle.

Glue the handle.
Glue the handle.

Step 5. Paint the toothpicks red and the beads blue. Let dry, and then slide two beads onto each toothpick. Snip off the sharp ends of the toothpicks. Glue each set to the top of the handle.

Step 6. On the front of the box, outline the oval with small dots of dimensional paint. Once that dries, the banjo is ready to play.

Now that you have a banjo, how about adding some rhythm to the band? Check on the next page to learn how quickly and easily you can make a small drum.

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