Exploring sounds

This week was an open exploration week with Sound.  I found that I referred to the PEEP science curriculum more than usual.  I really like its simple definitions of timbre, volume and pitch. These ready definitions helped me simplify my explanations for the children. The recommended activities are also plentiful and I want to try them all! I started with just a few. …

Here, Victor explores one of the interesting instruments available in our science center. Victor noticed that each tube of the xylophone makes a different sound. It depends how big they are, he surmised. Long ones sound more like other long ones. Small ones sound different.

Recording voices was another popular activity.  I included a small digital recorder, which was simple enough for the children to operate without adult assistance.  In this picture, Victor is playing back a recording he made of Xavier’s voice. Xavier is delighted and says, That was me. I heard what I said! 


Here Iliana is closing her eyes and listening very hard as Destiny makes one of 5 different sounds from behind the painting. It’s the frog! she exclaims, and she is correct! Everyone had a turn to be the sound-maker and the sound-guesser.

I think it’s a rain stick, guessed Angel when Xavier made his sound.  Triangle! guessed Sulexy as Chenniel tapped the metal triangle.

I created the game of “Listening Cans” many years ago by saving 12 identically shaped cans. I filled them with different sounding material: coins, salt, a rubber ball, water, a bell, and gravel, making sure there were two cans with each item.  It was important to add the same amount of each item, too, so they were sure to sound alike. I then covered the cans with tape so there would be no distinguishing features. The children’s challenge was to “Shake and Match” by listening. I now see that educational toy manufacturers are making these shakers, and a colleague lent me one she’d purchased. The children used both sets with equal interest. The advantage of the manufactured set is that they are self-correcting because they have a transparent end. The disadvantage is that children often can’t resist peeking before guessing. (The other advantage of the teacher-made set is that it’s free.)

Lilly ‘s strategy for finding a matching pair was to shake one can at each ear.

Jonathan said, Yay! I found 2 that rhyme!  When I asked him what he meant by that he responded, They sound the same!

We are looking forward to more sound exploration next week.

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