Nature of Sound – Background

If a tree falls in the forest, a bird sings, or a beaver slaps its tail, does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it? To think about this riddle, we need to understand the nature of sound – what it is and how we perceive it. Sound is important in our lives and the lives of other animals. Our sense of hearing helps us learn about and monitor our surroundings. And for animals that chirp, croak, bark, or talk, sound provides a highly effective means of communication.

Sound is what we hear when something is vibrating. Pluck a rubber band or a guitar string, and we hear a sound. How does the sound reach our ears? As the string vibrates, oscillating rapidly back and forth, it pushes or compresses the air Continue reading Nature of Sound – Background

Nature of Sound – Activities

FOCUS: Sound is what we hear when something is vibrating. The vibrating object – whether a violin string, a singing bird, or a gurgling brook – creates a sound wave that travels to our ears, where we interpret its meaning. Sound waves need a medium like air, water, or a solid through which to move; they cannot pass through a vacuum. The Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere provide a way for sounds to travel. Many animals depend on sound to learn about their surroundings and to communicate with others of their kind.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about sound.

Ask children to put their hands on their own throats as they make a noise like a frog and sing like a bird. What do they notice? Next, ask all children to make a “shush” sound. Do they notice a difference?

PUPPET SHOW “Calls of the Wild”
Objective: To learn how different animals hear and make sounds, and how sounds are important in their lives.

Perform the puppet show, or have a group of children perform it for the class. Afterward, ask questions to review the key details and vocabulary in the story. How was sound important to the different animals in the puppet show? (Chickadee – contact calls, listening for danger; woodpecker – finding food, advertising territory; jay – alarm, warning others; hare – knowing the weather, knowing where he is, listening for predators.) What are some other ways that sound is important in our lives or those of animals? (Calling for help, young begging for food, crossing roads, enjoying music, speaking, etc.)

Materials: puppets, script, stage, three signs for audience participation.

Objective: To investigate what is happening when something makes a sound.

Give each child or pair of children a paint stick. Have one child place the stick flat on a table or bench, so that about two thirds of it extends out beyond the edge. Continue reading Nature of Sound – Activities

Nature of Sound – Puppet Show

Calls of the Wild

Characters: Harry Hare, Chelsea Chickadee, Woodrow Woodpecker, Jenny Jay, Oliver Owl.

Props: cup of water and a straw; signs for audience participation: “chick-a-dee, dee, dee,” “whshhhhh,” “jay-jay-jay.”

Directions: Ahead of time, assign people in the audience a sound to make when their sign appears. It may be helpful to have one person to do sound effects and hold up the signs for audience participation.

Harry Hare   Gee, it’s almost morning and I’m still hungry. I’d like to go across the field to get to the bramble patch, but it might be dangerous. I’d better listen with my ears to be sure it’s safe. Continue reading Nature of Sound – Puppet Show

Nature of Sound – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Nature of Sound – Standards