Toddler Crafts for a Happy Musical House
Have any questions about building this box violin, leave a comment below, or on my Facebook Page.
There is always music around our house in various forms. We host jams, we host rehearsals, we have touring musicians popping in, we watch youtube clips of music, we make up songs, and we dance to music on the radio. My toddler LOVES music. I found her one afternoon, just after her second birthday imitating a violin with the stuffed rainbow trout that my brother gifted her. That gave me an idea. I had heard of the box violins used by the youngest Suzuki students. I wanted to make her a homemade box violin that would be just right for her tiny self, and sturdy enough to hold up to the rough-and-tough toddler lifestyle.
I’m trying to teach her to show the same respect she shows for her baby-dolls to her instruments. She is learning how to take care of her little box violin and she treats it just like one of her babies. She covers it with blankets and gives it a pillow when she’s not using it. She puts on little concerts and sings along with her bow strokes.
Here’s how to do it!
1. Gather Materials
⁃ Box of mac & cheese
⁃ two paint stirrers
⁃ 1/4″ dowel
⁃ gum eraser
⁃ hair tie
⁃ packing material
⁃ Ruler or tape measure
⁃ sand paper
⁃ binder clips
2. Measure dowel to 15″
Use a pencil and mark the dowel at 15″
3. Measure one paint stick to 8 1/2″ and the other to 13″
The neck will be two pieces glued together.
4. Cut dowel on 15″ mark
Use the saw to cut the dowel at 15″.
5. Cut first stick on 8 1/2″ mark
This will be the top of the neck.
6. Cut other stick on 13″ mark
The longer stick will be inserted inside the box.
7. Open the mac and cheese box, ripping off the front flap
Open up the box. You can dump the contents into a bowl and save it for later, or you can eat it now! Tear off the front flap so it doesn’t get in the way when we glue the neck.
8. Line up the long stick next to the box
We’re going to line up the stick next to the box, so the bottom (cut end) of the paint stick is lined up with the bottom (unopened) end of the box.
9. Put glue on the stick up to the height of the box
Apply glue evenly to the stick up to the height of the box.
10. Press the glue-side of the stick up to the flapless side of the box
Insert the stick into the box, and press the glue-side of the stick up against the inside of the box on the side where you tore off the flap. Try to center the the stick, and push the end of the stick all the way down to the bottom of the box.
11. Stuff the box with packing material
Fill the box with paper or plastic packing material until it’s completely stuffed to the point of bulging out like a full belly.
12. Sand the cut end, and one side of the stick
You should have longer stick glued to the box, and the shorter stick in your hand. The shorter stick will be exposed on the top of the violin so we want it to be sanded nicely. Since we’re gluing the stick onto the box, it’s easier to sand the cut end of the stick while it’s detached. You can also sand down what will be the exposed face of the stick as well.
13. Put glue on the non-sanded side
Spread glue evenly on the non-sanded side of the shorter stick (which you just sanded.)
14. Press the glued side, lined up with the other stick
Press the shorter stick, now slathered in glue, down on the top of the box, essentially sandwiching the side of the box between the two sticks. You should line up the two sticks, centered in the middle. The top stick (the shorter stick) will lay about 1/3 of the way down the top of the box.
15. Clamp sticks down with binder clips
Use one of the binder clips to clamp the sticks together about halfway up the neck so they are nicely set. Use the other binder clip lower, almost inside the box, so that it clamps the two sticks; tightly sandwich the face of the box between the two sticks using the clip.
16. Wipe away excess glue with moist paper towel
If there is excess glue oozing out from between the sticks, you can use a slightly moist paper towel to wipe away the glue.
17. Sand the dowel
You don’t want your toddler to get splinters on the dowel. Sand it down using the 600 grit sandpaper so that it’s very smooth and comfortable to hold.
18. Glue and table the eraser to the end of the dowel
The eraser will act as the frog of the bow. Apply some glue to the side of the eraser, and then tape the eraser to the dowel about 1/2 inch away from the end of the dowel.
19. Slide the hair band down the dowel
The hair tie will act as the pad, so your toddler’s tiny fingers have a point of reference for placing their index finger on the bow. Slide the hair tie down the end of the bow without the frog.
20. When the glue is dry, remove the binder clips
The glue should be dry in about an hour, this would be a good time to eat your mac and cheese if you haven’t already.
21. Tape the box shut
Tape the box shut at the top.
Now that we’ve built the violin, we can “finish” it! You can paint it with your little one as a fun activity to do with your toddler. If the violin is a gift for yours, or someone else’s child, you can paint it yourself.
1. Gather materials
⁃ Spray Primer
⁃ exacto knife
2. Prime the whole thing
I primed this violin with white spray-primer. I hung the violin up by a binder clip and fishing line inside a cardboard box to make a “tiny spraybooth.”
3. Paint it however you want
You can paint it with your toddler using finger-paints, or get artsy with it. Do what you feel!
4. Use the stencil to paint on f-holes
Download the f-hole stencil. Download Violin F-Hole Stencil
Print out the stencil and cut out the f-holes with an exacto knife. Line up the edges of the box with the outline of the stencil. Paint in the f-holes using the holes.
5. Have fun!
You and your toddler have fun! Put on concerts, and sing along with bow strokes. If your toddler shows continued interest, you should probably find him or her a real fiddle instructor!