Do-it-yourself Sound Matchers

Since Peanut’s condition is potentially degenerative, we’re working on teaching him to use his ears as much as his eyes.  One way of helping him to do this is by having him match items by how they sound instead of just by how they look or how they feel. Admittedly, you can buy a Sound Matching Board from the APH for $56 (see page 31 of the catalog at  You can, however, make something very similar for the low, low cost of free in the convenience of your own home–and save your $56 for something from APH that you can’t manufacture yourself quite so easily.


Materials we used to make our sound matchers.Peanut and I used:

  • Toilet paper tubes (you can also use plastic Easter eggs or maybe empty frosting containers–I picked tp tubes because Peanut wouldn’t be able to match them by sight instead of weight or sound).  Make sure you have these in an even number.
  • Tape–use something wide and durable, like duct tape.
  • Markers–I let Peanut decorate the tubes so this would be a family activity.  The ink didn’t stay on the tape very well, but it made him happy.
  • Items that will make different noises in the tubes.  Here, I have plastic beads, dishwasher bolts, Cheerios and uncooked rice.  You might try miniature bells, rocks, sand, mulch–you could even have an adventure with your kiddo finding items to fill your shakers with.
  • A pair of scissors.
  • Scrap paper.
  • An industrious toddler.

    Peanut works on our sound matchers.


  1. Pull the paper off of your tubes.  (Peanut enjoyed this, and it arguably worked his fine-motor skills.)
  2. Cut out a piece of paper that will cover the end of your tube–you’ll need two of these per tube.  (I tried just taping over the end of one set of matchers and wasn’t pleased with the result–the heavy bolts stick to the tape, so it’s not as easy to make the noise as I would like.)
  3. The bottom of this tube is finished--you can see the tape wrapped around the tube. I've just secured the paper to the top with tape and am getting ready to wrap it with tape to make sure it stays there.

    Tape a piece of paper to one end of the tube.  I did this by putting one piece of tape across the paper at the top of the tube and then taping around the circumference of the tube/paper to make sure it was on there tight.

  4. Add your noisy substance to the tube.  Peanut enjoyed this part, although he did eat part of the Cheerios.  He also wanted to dump things out of the tubes, put them back in, rinse and repeat–over and over. Even though your toddler may object, I recommend making the amount of whatever in each tube about the same (if you’ve got 1/2 cup of rice in one, put about 1/2 cup of rice in the other for that set, for instance.)
  5. Repeat step 3 with the top of the tube.
  6. Repeat these steps with the remainder of your tubes so you have two of each sound.

While Peanut has not yet mastered the art of sound matching, he is an expert shaker–he thinks shaking these tubes is the best thing ever.  It was a blast to watch his little face light up as he shook the dickens out of these things.  Better yet–I don’t have to worry about him wearing them out or accidentally destroying them because I made them myself and they’re free; if he gets bored with the current sounds or needs more of a challenge, all I have to do is save up some more tp rolls and make some more.  This was a fun, easy craft to do with my two-year-old, and it created a learning tool that should help him make the most of his sense of sound.

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