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Title: Location K-4 5-8 9-12 Description Discipline
Workshop I Sound Basics Kitchen
Hands-on sound activities.

This workshop is geared to the needs of children up to age 7. The materials are loosely grouped according to five basic musical concepts:

  1. sound and music,
  2. pitch,
  3. volume,
  4. rhythm,
  5. timbre.

Some materials are simply grouped according to arbitrary characteristics (i.e. plastic musical toys, musical instruments shaped like animals). Where necessary you can develop activity cards to instruct students in the use of the materials.

OBJECTIVE: To provide young children (7 and under) an enjoyable experience with basic concepts of sound and music.


1. The difference between noise and music will be explored in a brief participatory teacher-led orientation held on the half hour.

2. Volume, rhythm, pitch, and timbre will be explored through random interactions between children with "artifacts" grouped according to these concept. Materials, stored in oversized plastic milk crates, will be put out on benches which ring the periphery of the area. Laminated activity cards, color-coded to the artifacts, will instruct teachers on what to do and what is happening. Whenever possible, teachers will act as facilitators at each of the stations.

3. Musical technology can be explored through off-the-shelf musical toys.

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1. Things That Make Sounds teacher holds up pictures (such as flower, dog, train, person, chair, etc.) and asks audience to produce sounds that thing makes. Do all things make sounds?

Materials: 10 photos, pictures or drawings of above, at least 8" x 11", laminated on cardboard.

2. Things That Make Music teacher holds up pictures like fire engine, dog barking, pots and pans, someone singing, orchestra, piano player, car, train and asks students to categorize these things as "sound makers" or "music makers." Students come up and put these on felt or velcro-backed board under appropriate category.

Materials: 12 photos, pictures or drawings of above, at least 6" x 9", laminated on cardboard w/ backing that will allow them to adhere to board.

Felt board on easel at least 30" x 39" (Holcomb's - $20.20).

3. Animal and Other Music Makers teacher explains that things which are not considered musical instruments can make musical sounds and calls on students to play Peripole Rhythm Zoo instruments behind the felt board. Students must guess what sound is being produced, then the child playing the instrument steps out from behind the board to reveal what is being played.

The teacher explains that music is sound put together in a special way. It is sound arranged in patterns. A drummer's rhythms are patterns of long and short sounds. A tune is a pattern of higher and lower sounds. We could take almost any sound and make music with it.

Materials: Peripole Rhythm Zoo and mallets.

4. Orientation to Other Experiences teacher points out areas on pitch, rhythm, volume, and timbre explaining that activities are self-initiated.

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1. Different Instruments Can Produce the Same Pitch can you find two instruments which produce the same note or pitch? An assortment of instruments can be paired according to the pitch they produce when struck or plucked. Pitch is different from the sound color (or timbre) of the instrument.

Materials: tuning forks, metal tubes hung from frame, chime blocks, hand bells, jars with water, rubber band paddles, sticks.

2. Pitch is Related to Vibration 2 activities

Tuning Fork: Students tap a tuning fork with a mallet and put tips into shallow dish of water. Vibrations produced by the tuning fork causes water to splash gently.

Singing Tops: Students pump top handles, causing them to spin and sing. Vibrating air rushing inside the top products musical note.

Materials: tuning forks, plastic dishes with water, musical tops.

3. How Do We Change Pitch Using the Same Materials?

Shorter (higher) / Longer (lower) using metal tubes struck with a mallet, students see how a shorter column of air produces a higher pitch. We can also blow enough roles for everyone to have his/her own or provide drinking straws and scissors (this is hard for young children).

Tighter (higher) / Looser (lower) students can play with a guitar, moving their finger from fret to fret and plucking the string over the sound hole or tightening and loosening the string. Or, using rubber bands of the same mass, they can mount them on a wooden box with cup hooks positioned at varying distances and pluck them to see what notes they produce.

Less Mass (higher) / More Mass (lower) students can stretch rubber bands of varying thickness around the same sound box (they should be stretched as equally as possible to be "fair"). Or, they can strike a series of chime bars to see that the shorter ones produce a higher note.

Materials: xylophone set and mallets, toilet paper roles, straws, scissors, jars of water, guitar, rubber bands, 2 wooden boxes, cup hooks, chime bars.

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1. Rhythm is a Pattern of Long and Short Sounds - A board with notation for long and short sounds directs Students to clap out a rhythmic pattern. Or, teacher taps out a pattern on a drum and the student repeats it. (There is a Mr. Roger's clapping tape which is supposed to be very good, but you will need a video set-up).

Materials: portable board with notation on small easel, tom, video equipment.

2. Find the Beat a small tape recorder plays well-known nursery rhymes (i.e. Hickory Dickory Dock). Students play rhythm using instruments provided or clapping.

Materials: tape recorder with tape, wood blocks, cans with beans, small drums.

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1. Empty Vessels Make The Best Sound these activities are designed to help children understand, at a basic level, the concept of resonance. Several pairs of objects, one of each empty and the other full, will be available for students to tap and compare. Possibilities include coconuts, wood blocks, coffee cans, boxes. In addition, empty vessels will be provided so that students can fill them with different Materials and compare.

Materials: coconuts, coffee cans, wood blocks, boxes, newspaper, water, styrofoam peanuts, beans.

2. Jingle Bell Play children group bells according to "loud" or "soft" and put them in the appropriate cups.

Materials: 9 jingle bell sticks and 3 cups (Peripole).

3. Music Can Be Amplified Electronically another way of changing the volume of a sound is to use electronic means. (A solid-body guitar is not very loud unless it is plugged into an amplifier!) You can use the Fisher Price "Creative Music Maker" and a portable FM radio to illustrate this. Turning up the volume is pretty simplistic, of course, but this device allows kids to both sing over the radio, play pre-programmed songs, and play their own songs as well.

Materials: Creative Music Maker (Fisher Price), FM Radio, batteries.

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1. Things Have Their Own Special Sounds matching cereal boxes, each containing one of 6 to 8 different objects (metal pot, piece of wood, clay flower pot, etc.). Teacher taps, the student listens and tries to identify what's inside (this is printed on one side of the box). Unusual objects (Shells, sticks, pods) are also available for children to experiment with.

Materials: cereal boxes, pieces of things, sticks, bones, shells, pods, etc.

2. Sound Board Play 8 sound blocks, 2 each representing different timbres: jingle bell, ratchet, wood block and sand block with 2 double-headed mallets. Child plays auditory/visual games by matching sound blocks and grouping them in puzzle board.

Materials: Sound Board Play kit (Peripole).

3. Beat of a Different Drum students strike drums provided to hear how each one produces a different quality of sound. Is there one they like best?

Materials: 4 drums from Rhythm Set (Peripole).

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"If there is anything that we wish to change in the child,
we should first examine it and see
whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves."

Carl Jung

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