This year I decided to try an instrument petting zoo for Back-to-School night. It was a great hit and I plan to do it again for our conference night.
I borrowed some hula hoops from the gym teacher (in rainbow colors, of course) and arranged them in a circle on my carpet. I placed a variety of instruments in the hoops. The first picture below shows common instruments that I set up for the kindergarten orientation. I chose a lollipop drum, maracas, cowbell, woodblocks, guiro, and triangle. For grades 1-5, I decided to pull out instruments the students don't get to play as often. I chose a ukulele, thunder tube, tubano, Boomwhacker xylophone, suspended cymbal, and temple blocks.
I invited the students to stand beside a hula hoop on the outside of the circle. When they heard the bell tree, they could play their instrument. When they heard the gong, they had to stop and place their instrument back in the hoop. When they heard a glissando on the xylophone, they would rotate to the next hoop. Placing them in hoops helped establish boundaries so the instruments were protected during transition time. Everyone that stopped by loved the petting zoo. It was a great chance for them to explore, but also practice their listening skills.
Before my next zoo exhibit, I have upgraded my visuals. I have created a slideshow to display with easy visual instructions. I hope this saves me from explaining the rules to each new visitor. I also created some paper signs to hang on the instruments to represent "play", "stop", and "walk". I have also created signs to hang around the school to invite students to visit the petting zoo.
If you are interested in displaying an instrument petting zoo, you may find my resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. There is a zipped file with the slideshow and printable signs. Enjoy!