Thursday, 26 September 2013

Sound Travels #8 - Bumpety, Bumpety Yellow Bus

Experimenting rhythms with the tone bars has guided us into our next concept: form. What are a few forms of folk song games? We sang the song "Bumpety, Bumpety, Yellow Bus" and the children were especially interested in the syllables that make up their names. We dotted the syllables on paper. I could see from the concentration on their faces that they were linking the syllables they hear to the dots. To help us see the song, we drew a song map.

If you would like to know more about our song games (Sound to Symbol methodology), please visit

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sound Travels #7 - Pitch

Measuring with Unifix Cubes
Yesterday the children collected some data from the guitar they made and tried to figure out why the strings make different sounds. First, they used Unfix cubes as a measurement to measure the length of each elastic band stretched across the guitar. Then they plucked each band to see if it made
a high sound or a low sound. After we organized all the data, we found that the longest elastic band made the highest sound and the shortest elastic band made the lowest sound. I explained to the children that the high and low of a sound is called the pitch. When the elastic band is stretched, it will create a faster moving sound wave and a higher pitch. When the elastic band is not stretched as much, the sound waves move slower and produces a lower pitch.

Selecting a tone bar
Using what we know about pitches, the children each picked a tone bar and compared it with each other. They noticed some bars have high pitches and some have lower ones. As they played their notes, Theo said that it sounded like a song. So we put our tone bars together and each child took turn playing the tune. When it was Molly's turn, she played the song with a rhythm. This inspired the other children to create their own rhythms too. 

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Sound Travels #6 - "Seeing" Sound Waves

The children now know that sound waves can travel through air. We can feel and hear the vibrations from sound waves but we cannot see them. I told the children that I have a very special app (Wavepad) on my ipad that someone created to help us imagine what sound waves would look like. The children each recorded their own voice on the app and saw waves. They immediately noticed that some waves are small and some are big. After a few recordings, they started to see that soft voices made small waves and loud voices made high waves.

In addition, the other day when we were creating vibrations with elastic band, Alfie noticed that his elastic band sounds different when it is stretched differently? Why? So the children made their own guitars and we are going to investigate why do the strings make different sounds?
Decorating our guitar
Jamming with our friends

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Sound Travels #5 - More about Vibrations

Feeling the vibration from our throats

As I was reviewing sounds and vibrations (the jumping macaroni) with the children yesterday, Kate came by and shared her thoughts with us. Is the jumping macaroni vibrations or a movement caused by the vibrations? Her question made us ponder and inquire more into vibrations.

Sound traveling through the table
Today, I asked the children if they could see sounds and they answered no right away and mentioned we hear sounds. Then I explained to them that we can't really see vibrations and Alfie said: "But we can see waves!" (from the previous experiment) I told him he was right but the waves were movements caused by the vibration, we cannot see sound waves but we can use things to help us see the movements that sound waves create. So today, to help the children understand that vibrations create sound waves which move through mediums before reaching our ears, we tried another experiment.

Each child received a piece of tin foil. Then they sprinkled little pieces of tissue paper that they had cut up on top of the tin foil. Next they clapped their hands together right next to the tin foil. Their objective was to move the tissue paper with the waves of the vibrations that came through their claps.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Sound Travels #4 - Sounds through Vibrations

Observing the water
 I began group time with an experiment with the children today. I filled a bowl with water and asked the children to observe. I struck the side of the bowl and here are their observations:
Molly: I see waves.
Allye: The water jumps out.
Alfie: I hear "ding".

Different ways to pluck the elastic
I told them the tiny waves they see are called vibrations. Below is our conversation to connect vibrations to sounds:
No movement from water.
Mary: Can you hear a "ding" now?
Children: No.
I hit the side of the bowl.
Children: I hear "ding"!
Mary: Do you see the vibrations too?
Children: Yes!
Mary: Now look closely and see what you notice about the vibrations and the "ding" at the same time.
I hit the side of the bowl again.
Alfie: There's waves when the ding starts!
Molly: And when the ding goes away the vibration disappear!

Feeling the vibrations
I love it the way they collaborate together to get a conclusion! I explained further that sound is produced through vibrations. 

The children checked their understanding with elastic bands and a jumping macaroni game. The group was very creative in finding ways to produce sounds and vibrations with the elastic bands. The children had a blast when they tried to make the macaroni jump off the drum through vibrations. 

Sound Travels #3 - Start and Stop

Walking our fingers on our bodies
Go/Stop game
Before going further into vibration, the children practiced the idea of starting and stopping. By practicing this, it helps them become more aware of the connection between vibration and sounds. And the song, "We are Going Walking" is the perfect one to do. The start of the song is our cue to start walking and we stop when the song stops. The children enjoyed walking their fingers along their bodies and anticipating where they would stop. After the song game, we played a Go/Stop game using signs. The objective of the game is to do what the signs say (go or stop).

Making our own stop/go signs

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Sound Travels #2 - Exploring Sounds with Instruments

From last week (our formative week), I learned that the children did not know how to explain sound but understood that sounds can be heard through our ears. To deepen the children's understanding, we are going to look at how sounds can be heard (causation) and the goal is to identify sounds are produced through vibrating objects.

Today the Water group had an exploration time with a variety of instruments (ukelele, recorder, xylophone, sistrum, rainstick, maracas, etc.). After learning the names and how to use the instruments, the children utilized their research skills by investigating and observing them. As they played together, Molly exclaimed: "This is like a band!" When the time is up, the group gathered together to give ideas of what the sound is like and how each instrument makes the sound. We looked through our list and noticed that the instruments can not produce sounds on their own, we have to either hit, strum, blow or shake the instruments.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Sound Travels #1 - What We Know About Sounds

 As the Water group gathered this week, I asked them: "What are sounds?" Everyone looked at me, puzzled and shook their heads. So I asked them another question: "What can your ears do?" Alfie answered: "You listen with it! And you can hear things!" Immediately, everyone started to list things that they can hear. Allye can hear a mouse go squeak, squeak. Molly can hear the cars go by outside. Angela can hear singing. Theo can hear music. What a great way to practice communication skills! I let them know that all the wonderful ideas they shared were a form of sound and they were a little surprised by that piece of information.  After, the group brainstormed and drew pictures of their ideas  about sounds.