Ready for a magical, musical project? Let’s build a flute out of paper and tape! It’s really amazing how you can convert simple supplies into an instrument that really plays like a real flute or recorder. We’ve even included sheet music so you’ll be playing Mary Had a Little Lamb in no time on your very own, handmade instrument. It’s a perfect STEAM project!
What is a Flute?
Flutes are a type of woodwind instrument that gets its sound from the vibrations of air blown through them. Other wind instruments include reed instruments like clarinets and saxophones and brass instruments like trumpets and trombones.
How Does a Flute Produce Sound?
This paper flute plays just like a real flute or recorder. This kind of flute is called an internal duct flute. The sideways flutes you typically see are called transverse flutes. You blow through the mouth area and the air travels through the windway which directs the wind across a gap called the window. The wind inside the flute behaves like a vibrating string and the pitch of the note you play depends upon the speed of the wind inside.
When you cover the finger holes, the vibrating length of the air column in the flute is longer, creating lower notes. When you uncover a hole, the air column escapes through the hole, shortening the vibrating length of the air column in the flute. This makes it play higher notes.
Fairy Tale Flutes
This project was inspired by a favorite fairy tale, the Pied Piper. And this project is a also sneak peek into our Fairy Tales Ebook Unit Study by STEAM Explorers! Inside this fun activity pack, we pair hands-on STEAM projects, printables, and recipes with your favorite tales.
The Pied Piper is the tale of a man who offered his services to the city Hamelin during a rat infestation. He promised the mayor that he could play his pipe and lead the rats away. The mayor promised to pay him and the Pied Piper led the rats away. But the mayor didn’t hold up his side of the bargain and refused to pay the Pied Piper his full sum. So in revenge, he played his pipe and led Hamelin’s children away too.
This tale is believed to date back to the Middle Ages when rats were a major cause of the spread of a deadly virus called the Plague.
Paper Flute Supplies Needed
Part of the amazing magic of this project is that it only needs a few simple supplies to make music! Just cardstock, tape, a ruler, and scissors. Plus grab a pencil and paper clip to make the process easier.
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We’ve also included sheet music with finger positions so you and the kids can play Mary Had a Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns. Just fill out the form below to have the printable and instructions emailed to you.
FREE! PAPER FLUTE INSTRUCTIONS AND
How to Make the Paper Flute
Here are the easy-to-follow instructions for making a paper flute. We’ve also made a video to show you how fun and doable it is to make and play your very own wind instrument.
- Roll the paper from short side to short side into a 1” diameter roll. Tape along the entire seam to secure.
- Cut the Flute Window: Flatten the cylinder slightly. Measure 2” down from the end, mark with a pencil, and cut a 1/4” slit into the side of the flute. Measure 2 3/8” down from the same end, mark, and cut a second 1/4” slit into the side of the flute. De-flatten the cylinder. Insert the scissors through the two slits and cut out the paper between them to create a 1/2” x 3/8” rectangular hole. A paper clip can help you pull the slits apart so you can fit the scissors between them.
- At the end of the flute closest to the hole that you just cut, pull apart the layers of paper in the roll. Leave one layer on the outside, then fold down the inside slightly. Create a gap between the layers by inserting the point of the scissors under the top layer to the hole you cut in Step 2. Do not cut the paper.
- Wrap a piece of clear tape over the edge of the outside layer from step 3 to protect the paper while playing. Wrap the edge of the inside layers from step 3 with a separate piece of tape.
- Flatten the cylinder slightly again. Measure 2” further down the flute from the first hole, mark with a pencil, and cut a diamond shape by making a 1/4” long upside-down v-shaped cut in line with the first hole.
- Measure 1” further down the flute, mark, and make another 1/4” upside-down v-shaped cut in the flute.
- Measure 1” further down the flute, mark, and make a final 1/4” upside-down v-shaped cut in the flute.
- De-flatten the flute and remove the diamond-shaped pieces of paper.
How to Play the Paper Flute
If you’ve ever played the recorder, you’ve already played an internal duct flute! This uses the same fingering to play the notes B, A, and G. Music teachers often use BAG songs to get people started with an instrument.
- To play the flute, gently place the taped portion of the flute in between your lips and cover the three small diamond-shaped holes with your fingers. Then blow. Play around with different methods of blowing, like quick bursts of air and long sustained air like you’re blowing up a balloon. What sounds best?
- To change the notes that you play, lift up your fingers from the diamond-shaped holes. Different patterns of covered holes and open holes will make different notes.
- Try playing Mary Had a Little Lamb or Hot Cross Buns from the music on the next page. To play these songs, cover the finger holes where the circles have been filled in black. Leave the white circles uncovered. Blow into the flute and move your fingers according to the diagrams.
More Fairy Tale Fun
This paper flute project is a sneak peek into one of our very favorite STEAM Explorers ebooks!
Learning can be magical... Just add STEAM! Let's explore magical worlds and heroic challenges with the STEAM Explorers Fairy Tales Ebook Unit Study. We're exploring some of your favorite fairy tales with STEAM-filled projects, printables, and recipes. Each activity is paired with a beloved fairy tale!
Everyone will love designing their own fairyland board game, making wickedly delicious apples, growing magic beans, and firing up a dragon with electricity. You'll love the helpful standards-based learning, printables, and tools that make STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, & math) exploration easy!
What's inside the Fairy Tales Ebook Unit Study by STEAM Explorers?
- 4 Fun Weekly Themes: Hero's Quest | Enchanted Lands | Magical Spells | Epic Monsters
- Projects: Hands-on science, technology, engineering, art, and math projects
- Printables: Fun printables for independent learning and fun
- Recipes: Delicious recipes that have a learning spin
- Learning: Interesting reading that helps kids learn about our planet on every page
- Activity Calendar: A helpful calendar to make adding STEAM to your day simple and fun.
- Supplies List: A handy supplies list for the month that makes prep easy.
- BONUS! A coupon to save 25% on a monthly STEAM Explorers subscription. That's where every month you'll get a brand new, fun-filled theme that makes your job easy.
FREE! PAPER FLUTE INSTRUCTIONS AND