Do It Yourself! 4 Music Games on a Shoestring Budget

Sometimes students need hands-on, interactive ways to reinforce the musical concepts they are learning. If you are looking for games or activities for your students that won’t break your budget, here is a fun way to get started. Everyday thousands of lids for plastic containers of milk and other beverages are thrown away. With the help of your students, you can repurpose them as enjoyable learning tools. 

To create interest and student involvement, begin by collecting a few lids, and set them out them out in view of your students. Explain that you need the students to help you gather enough lids to play some music games. Sending e-mails to parents can also help your collection grow.


Once you have collected enough lids, there are numerous ways to use them:

Music Board Game

  • Use the lids to trace circles that meander across sturdy paper to make a path for your game.
  • Write instructions in the lids’ circles such as “skip a turn” or “go back a space,” or add some game shortcuts.
  • Decorate your board game using colorful markers or stickers.
  • Use as homemade flash cards displaying musical notes or symbols.
  • Use the milk caps as tokens for the game.




Rhythm Practice Flash Cards

  • Draw a one-measure rhythm pattern on each cap, and place the caps in a bowl.
  • Have students take turns drawing the lids out of the bowl and clapping the rhythms.  



Music Alphabet Activities

  • Write each letter of the music alphabet on lids, enough for several octaves.
  • Have beginner students arrange the music alphabet in the correct order on the table.
  • Have more advanced students arrange the alphabet lids in skips or fifths.





  • Draw a blank staff with lines about one-and-a-half inches apart so that a lid can be used as a note on the staff.
  • Use different colors for the root, third, and fifth notes of the triad.
  • Have students place the caps on the staff to make triads in root position, first inversion, and second inversion.




These are just some of the endless ways to use repurposed milk lids in your studio. I hope your students will enjoy some of these inexpensive, “old school” ideas.   


Susan Paradis is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Master of Music Education, where she studied Kodaly methods with the noted Kodaly educator Arpad Daraz. She was awarded membership in the Pi Kappa Lambda honorary music fraternity and is a longtime member of the Texas Music Teacher Association and the Music Teachers National Association. An active piano teacher and music educator, Susan creates original piano teaching material, games, printables, and piano music  for her students and shares her teaching materials with other teachers on her website,