Making A Ukulele

Grade 3 students are making ukuleles with their own hands, hearts, and creativity. Like so much in life, this project began as an idea.

Hamlin music teacher Kate Roseman states:

The idea for the ukulele project came from a conversation I had with Mark Picketts last year. During that conversation, Mark mentioned that there was a project like this at another school, and I got really excited about the potential of bringing it to Hamlin. Originally, I was thinking about doing this project with Grade 4, but when I mentioned it to Brandy (Garcia), she immediately became excited and said we had to do it with Grade 3. Brandy’s enthusiasm and passion has really brought this project to life! Making connections to art and poetry was something I wasn’t even thinking about.

With the help of design and maker teacher, Brian Louie, the vision is now under construction.

Mr. Louie had never made a ukulele before, but he was able to watch Instructable videos about the process and was excited to model taking risks for our students. Mr. Louie knows how to play the ukulele, so he already had a feel for the instrument.

Our students are working through the following to construct the ukuleles:

-Use a bandsaw to cut wood (plywood for the bodies, oak for the sides and neck, walnut for the bridge)

-Cut the wood for the body

-Paint the body

-Cut the neck

-Sand the edges

-Glue on the neck, drill holes for pegs, nails for frets

-Attach strings to tuners

Simultaneous to the making, students wrote I Am poems. The words of these poems will inspire the girls to choose specific images/colors to paint their ukuleles, and in some cases, the poems will become lyrics for songs that they will perform using the instruments.

Here are a couple of poem examples:

I hear the blue waves crash at the sandy beach

with my brown hair drifting in the wind

I am Tahoe


I am dark chocolate brown eyes looking at tulips

sparkling in the sun.

This project is truly multidisciplinary: design/making, art, music, and English. Later in the school year students will use their homemade ukuleles to sing their original songs. Stay tuned!

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