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Here are instructions for creating the Hawaiian ‘Uli ‘Uli musical gourd rattle instrument used in hula dances


Art, Music  


3, 4, 5, 6  

Title – ‘Uli ‘Uli – Hawaiian Gourd Rattle
By – Paula Hrbacek
Primary Subject – Art
Secondary Subjects – Music
Grade Level – Grades 3 to 6


    Hawaiians make their musical instruments from the things they can find on their island. The ‘uli ‘uli starts as a small gourd that is hollowed out and filled with seeds, shells or pebbles. A handle is attached and the tip is decorated with cock feathers. A Hula dancer holds the ‘uli ‘uli in the right hand and shakes it, or hits it with the left hand, hip, knee, shoulder or another part of the body.

Materials needed:

  • plastic drink jugs with snap-on or screw-on lids, or
    small plastic water or soda bottles with the labels removed.
    Bottles should be washed and dried ahead of time.
  • pebbles, rice or gravel
  • tissue paper
  • pipe cleaners
  • pliers
  • hammer and 4D common nail, or hand drill
  • pictures of Hawaiian instruments can be printed from the web page for Bounty Music
  • tape or CD of Hawaiian music, and player


  • Empty and rinse the drink jugs.
  • Make a tissue paper flower by folding three rectangles of tissue paper into a fan. Wrap a pipe cleaner or wire around the center of the tissue and twist it tightly with pliers. Open each end of the paper fan and pull the tissue up, one layer at a time, arranging it into a flower. Make fringed edges on the paper if desired.
  • Make a hole in the jug cap with a large nail or hand drill. A nail can be used on lids that are made of soft plastic, but lids from soda bottles that are thicker than that will need to be drilled. If the children are younger than fourth grade, or if a power tool is used, these holes should be drilled before class.
  • Push the two ends of the pipe cleaner through the hole, from the outside towards the inside. Use pliers to twist the pipe cleaner into a wad that will not pull through the hole. Put a few pebbles, grains of rice or beans, small sea shells, fish tank gravel, or cut-up Mardi Gras beads into the drink jug. Snap or screw on the lid.
  • Use your ‘uli ‘uli to sing a Hawaiian song.
    This activity is reprinted with permission from Day Camp in Hawaii , a summer camp program with games, crafts, songs and more. Order a copy or download from .

E-Mail Paula Hrbacek !

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