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Make a pan flute

Make your own pan flute, and learn about the Inca Sun God and the festival of Inti Raymi.

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You’ll need

  • Scissors
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • Double sided sticky tape
  • Glue sticks
  • Paper drinking straws
A photograph of pan flutes crafted from paper straws and cardboard.

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Inti Raymi is a traditional religious ceremony of the Inca Empire, which covered a lot of South America in the 1400s and 1500s. The land the Inca Empire covered is now split into countries including Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia.

The name Inti Raymi comes from Quechua – the main language of the Inca Empire. Today, between eight and ten million people probably speak a Quechuan language. ‘Raymi’ means festival, and ‘Inti’ is the Inca Sun God.

The Incas worshipped the Sun as one of their main deities (gods). The Inca Emperors believed they were the children of the Sun God. Near the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year), they would summon the Sun God, and ask him to come closer again, not get lost in the deep dark universe. They also prayed for a good harvest, and for protection against hunger.

Lots of indigenous cultures throughout the Andes (mountains across the western edge of South America) still celebrate Inti Raymi. Celebrations involve music, colourful costumes, and food. Pan flutes are usually made from bamboo, giant cane, or reeds. They’re very popular across the Andes.

One big celebration happens in Cusco, a city in Peru. During the Inca Empire, Cusco was a sacred city and the capital of the Empire. Around 50,000 people would fast for nine days, then gather outside the city with gifts for the royals and priests who lived inside.

Today, days of street parties and processions surround Inti Raymi. There is a day-long celebration, with hundreds of actors in costumes. Someone dressed as the son of the Sun, or Emperor of the Inca Empire (Inti Churin, or Sapa Inca) appears and invites people to a ceremony – he’s then carried in a big procession, with hundreds of musicians, banner carriers, and dancers. When they reach the ruins, he sings a hymn at the altar. Then they reenact sacrificing a llama, and foretelling the future. Finally, the actors take communion with maize flour and blood from the sacrificed llama.


Chat about Inti Raymi 

  1. Gather everyone in a circle.
  2. Ask everyone what they already know about the Inca Empire and it’s traditions – this might not be very much, but that's OK!
  3. Tell everyone that the originating in the 1200s and flourishing and establishing the Inca Empire in the 1400s, the Inca were an important civilisation located in Peru, South America. Inca Empire was one of the largest and well-established empires in the world, and controlled much of the land surrounding the Andes mountains on the western coast of South America. At it's peak, the Inca Empire consisted of 12 million inhabitants. The Inca spoke the language of Quechua.
  4. Explain that The Inti Raymi is a traditional religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honour of the god Inti, which means Sun.

Make your pan flute

  1. Everyone should collect eight straws.
  2. Using a ruler, measure the straws to the right length, then mark them with the pen and cut the straws to the desired length.
  3. Draw two rectangles on card. They should be roughly 13cm long and 3cm wide, fitting over all of the straws. Use the scissors to cut these rectangles out.
  4. Put glue (or double sided sticky tape) onto one card rectangle.
  5. Leaving about 2cm from the edge, everyone should place their longest straw onto the sticky card. They should leave some straw poking out of the top, so they can blow across it.
  6. Leave a small gap, then place their second longest straw onto their sticky card. The top of the second straw should be in line with the top of the first straw, so they can blow across them both easily.
  7. One by one, everyone should add the straws in length order. They should always leave a small gap between them, and the tops of the straws should always line up. When the straws are all in position, there should be about 2cm of card left at the end (again, enough to hold).
  8. Put glue (or double sided sticky tape) on their other card rectangle.
  9. Stick their second rectangle on top of the line of straws, pinching it at each end to make two handles.
  10. Now the pan flutes are made, they can be decorated. Use craft materials, pens and stickers to decorate their flutes. Remember that they’re going to be used to honour the Inca Sun God.
  11. Everyone can practice blowing across the top of their pan flute. Can they make a tune? Can they get into small groups and make a tune together? What happens if everyone plays their pan flutes at once?

Straw measurements for different notes

  • Do (C) = 17.5 cm
  • Re (D) = 15.5 cm
  • Mi (E) = 13.5 cm
  • Fa (F) = 12.5 cm
  • So (G) = 11 cm
  • La (A) = 10 cm
  • Ti (B) = 9 cm
  • Do (C, an octave above) = 8.5 cm


This activity helped people to understand and talk about faiths, beliefs, and attitudes. Why do people celebrate Inti Raymi? What are the customs of Inti Raymi? How is it similar to any other celebrations or festivals people take part in? How is it different? What do people think the most important part is?

This activity also helped people to respect and trust people with different backgrounds. Is it easier for people to respect others when they know more about their backgrounds? What would it be like to visit Peru during Inti Raymi? Would people like to join in the celebration?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Glue and solvents

Always supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions that could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast, and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Create a smaller pan flute by using fewer straws.

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Now everyone has made their pan-flute, you could each record part of a song and then edit it together to share online – make sure you have everyone’s permission.