Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Exploring Sound: Science, Math, and Music Activity

Last weekend we did Lesson C-2 in Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) - "Sound, Vibrations, and Energy", and I decided to integrate the lesson with some fun music and math activities.

First we made string instruments out of rubber bands and cookie cutters:

The sound out of these was not that impressive, but the kids enjoyed holding them up to their ears and also strumming them and then feeling the vibrations in the cookie cutters.  We talked about how the vibrations from the rubber bands travel through the particles in the air to their ears (they understand the concept of air as a substance so maybe they got it, or maybe there's just some association made between vibrations and sound, which is fine too).  Then they put their ears on the wooden table and listened to sounds through this solid (they were surprised by the result and giggled). 

Next I filled up glasses with varying amounts of water and let them make some music.  The girls know how to distinguish high/low pitches and ascending/descending intervals from Kinderbach, so we played some games identifying the difference in the sounds each glass made:

 We've been doing a lot of work with patterns and number recognition lately, so I wanted to demonstrate the different ways we can make patterns with music. 

We composed music using different manipulatives.  One way was to put numbers in front of the glasses, and then, moving from left to right, strike each glass the number of times displayed on the corresponding card.  L really enjoyed rearranging the numbers and then asking me to play her composition.  Another way we composed music was to use two instruments (a glass, and a container for a drum), and assign a different color to each one.  Then we combined MegaBlocks to make a pattern to play:

For example, to play the composition above, you would play glass-drum-drum-glass-drum.  E was really good at this activity, probably because it combined her love of building with blocks with her love of music.

Finally, we took out our whole collection of percussion instruments and played some games reading quarter notes:

Sometimes I'd hit a drum a certain number of times and the girls had to pick the card that depicts the correct number of notes, and sometimes I'd pick a card and they would have to play the rhythm.  I think they can finally identify a group of four objects, which is something they've struggled with for a while in our RightStart Math curriculum.  In the picture above, L is playing the game, while E is making the letter "T" with her drumsticks (they're so creative!). 

Since the kids enjoyed this very much, I plan on expanding on these types of activities to include different rhythms and patterns.  I'll have to also search the web for more ideas on experiments to do with sound - I'm sure there are other fun experiments out there.

1 comment:

  1. We did the glass experiment not so long ago and it is a brilliant presentation of pitch and tone.

    Great fun.

    Thanks for linking to Science Sparks.


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