Today’s post is from (cool) progeny contributor Monica Wiedel-Lubinski from The Irvine Nature Center. She’s sharing how to make backyard music with your kids… and we’re giving you a sneak peek at a September Play Date!!

Summer beckons us outdoors. The warm sunshine and soft green grass underfoot is irresistible.
But summer wouldn’t be complete without the wonderful chorus of creatures chirping, tweeting,
screeching, and pecking.

Yes, summer is relaxing, but not quiet. Animals are busy searching for mates, food, and nesting sites. Baby birds beg for bugs while frogs chime their calls from the tree tops. All these sounds add to the energy of the summer season.

Most people enjoy this cacophony but also feel compelled to make music. To jam out. C’mon, admit it. You love to hear D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” anthem. I know you do. (Great song for an impromptu dance party with your kid, if you haven’t already done so.) But I digress.

My point here is that summer sounds are exciting and energizing. And people are entitled to make their own sounds in summer, just as other animals do.

Now, stay with me for a moment while I tell you about an incredible project I’ve been working on at Irvine Nature Center. It’s called an Outdoor Classroom. Think play ground meets nature. It’s an amazing natural space where children can explore different learning areas such as Digging, Nature Art, Climbing & Crawling, or Music & Movement.* As we move towards completing the space, I’ve been looking into instruments for the Outdoor Classroom. In my research I came across dozens of innovative ideas for making music with nature.

Visit the Filth Wizardry Blog to see how to create your own ‘music tree’ or ‘music wall’ using repurposed pots, pans, wire racks, wooden spoons and the like. If you’d like to make an outdoor xylophone or tractor tire drum, visit the Child Central Station blog! A banging post looks like a musical variation of a mayday pole at the Let the Children Play blog. Or you can drum to your heart’s content on this modular banging wall created by Get Your Mess On and made out of drumheads or baking tins.

Take inspiration from the birds and the bees and make some sweet sounds of your own. There are plenty of natural and recyclable materials for you to make a no-cost musical outdoor space for your little one!

Be sure to visit Irvine Nature Center on the web and check out the Fall 2011 newsletter article about the Outdoor Classroom. See details about our official unveiling on October 1, 2011.

(cool) tip: Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 17th! (cool) progeny is having a play date at Irvine and we get to check out the Outdoor Classroom before it’s public!! More details soon.

Monica Wiedel-Lubinski is the Director of The Nature Preschool at Irvine Nature Center. For more great ways to share nature with your children, visit or check out all of Monica’s (cool) progeny Nature Play contributions.