VBS Craft: Prayer Membranophone Instrument

This fun STEM VBS craft is a wonderful one to make to reinforce the Bible point that God hears us especially in our prayers. The sound made by this homemade instrument is low and deep. It reminds us that God hears us in all moments including those when we feel forlorn and cry out to him in our prayer.

Take a moment to play this video to see how it works and to hear the sound:

Prayer and Scripture tie-in:

This activity would work well in many VBS themed camps but it does have an especially great tie in to Group’s Treasured VBS in Day 2. The Bible point is “God hears you” and the Bible verse is Psalm 116:1.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.

Psalm 116:1

Discuss with the kids:

  • Do you call out to God in moments of need? Why or why not?
  • What means do you use to call out to him? bedtime prayer? meal time prayer? singing? memorized Scripture?
  • How does God hear us?

Direct the students to thoughtfully fill out the Template:

Pass out the template and have the kids fill in the blank to the prompt of “God hears me when__________”.

[Possible responses: pray, sing, call out his name, am sad, am in trouble, etc.]

God hears our prayers, Treasured VBS alternative activity, VBS craft
Template to be filled out and then used to make the rolled sheet of paper as part of the instrument.

Supplies for the Membranophone Instrument:

The supplies to make this instrument are cheap but they do take some prep. This activity is adapted from the Exploratorium activty to make a Water Bottle Membranophone. Instead of using a plastic glove, I substituted cut squares from a plastic tablecloth.

Per Instrument:

Picture 1: Supplies needed per Membranophone
  • Clean empty plastic water bottle, with bottom-half cut off and a small hole punched as shown in Picture 1.
  • Cut piece of plastic tablecloth (approximately 6″ x 6″ size)
  • Thick rubber band
  • Plastic straw
  • Card stock, blank or printed with “God hears us when I ___________” template

General Supplies:

Picture 2: General supplies needed
  • scissors or utility knife (adult only use)
  • paper hole punch
  • markers and pencils

Prep and Assembly Directions:

Please see the Exploratorium website for the assembly directions. For students younger than 9 years, I recommend completely prepping the water bottle by completing steps #1-#3. It is too hard for them cut the bottom of the water bottle off and to punch the hole in it.

Make sure the straw fits tightly. As the Exploratorium directions explain, “If the hole isn’t large enough for the diameter of the straw, repunch in nearly the same spot to widen the hole a bit.”

Watch the video below to see some tips on being successful. It is important to have your teen helpers see the video so they can help troubleshoot.

Finished prayer membranophone, Treasured VBS alternative craft
Picture 3: Finished Prayer Membranophone VBS craft
Video: Learn some tips on being successful with making the instrument

Make it into a VBS kit for home:

Children can make this prayer membranophone at home as a virtual VBS kit.

The water bottle piece should be fully prepped. Cut the bottom off and add the paper hole punch needed. When it comes time to put it together, a parent or adult may need to help get the rubber band placed over the plastic wrap.

Extensions: Explore the Science

This membranophone makes sound through the vibration of the stretched membrane. A fun extension is to cut holes in the cardboard tube to make finger holes. You can do this easily by gently squeezing the side and cutting a slit. Listen to changes in sound as you cover and uncover the holes.

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