Enjoy teaching sound to your third, fourth, and fifth grade students! Check out these engaging activities, links, and freebies.
How to Enjoy Teaching Sound
Show, don’t tell! Even big kids will love these simple, hands-on sound activities. Just set out some everyday items and let them explore. Before you know it, they’ll be making their own scientific generalizations.
- What Is Sound? Use a rubber band and a tuning fork to discover that sound is a vibration. Pluck the rubber band. What do you see? What do you hear? Now strike the tuning fork on your shoe (or the table). Hold it to your ear then touch it to the surface of water. Zap! The vibrations make water shoot all over.
- How Does Sound Travel? Clap your hands behind your back and above your head. This shows that sound travels in all directions. Stretch a Slinky out across the floor with a partner. Now give one end a quick push. You’ll see how longitudinal waves move in compressions and rarefactions.
- What Is Amplitude? Being noisy at school is fun! Strike a table softly then harder. Pluck a rubber band gently then harder. Clap your hands lightly then harder. Yep, amplitude is increased when more force is used.
- What Is Pitch? Stretch rubber bands of different lengths and widths around a box. Fill same-size bottles with varying amounts of water. Blow into a small bottle then a big jug. Students find that longer waves make lower sounds.
- Which Materials Conduct and Insulate Sound? Line a coffee can with a soft cloth, aluminum foil, etc. Now shout into it. Which produces a greater sound? Tie the middle of a piece of string to a metal spoon, a plastic spoon, and a wooden spoon. Wrap the ends of the string to your pointer fingers and stick them in your ears. Now swing the spoon to strike the edge of a table. Boing! It’s obvious that denser, smoother objects conduct sound better.
- Does Sound Travel Better Through Solid, Liquid, or Gas? Place your ear against the lids of cans filled with air, water, and sand. Tap the side of the can. Are you surprised that sound travels best through a solid?
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- What Is Sound? (0:39) Watch this video of a clapping game. Say “Eenie Meenie Sassaleeny” while touching your throat with your hand. What do you feel? Clap your hands. What do you feel? Yes, sound is a vibration.
- How Does Sound Travel? (1:18) This Slinky shows how molecules in a sound wave behave. Notice the compressions and rarefactions.
- What Is Amplitude? (2:14) Sesame Street characters explore the concepts of loud (greater amplitude) and quiet (less amplitude).
- What Is Pitch? (2:21) Which strings on the guitar are best to make a low sound? Find out with this fun video.
- Which Materials Conduct and Insulate Sound? (0:12) Explore conditions necessary to make sound bounce with this quick video of an echo in a tunnel.
- Does Sound Travel Better Through Solid, Liquid, or Gas? (4:00) Study.com examines factors affecting the speed of sound. This video reviews the nature of sound and offers a much more sophisticated explanation. Create an account to view the video and get access to related materials.
Enjoy teaching sound with this interactive student website. It includes the links above, opportunities for additional exploration, and a review. Feel free to share the link with your students. Kids love exploring on their own (and you’ll have a little extra time to catch up on that grading!)
The Complete Unit
I post new ideas, activities, and free downloads every week. Click here for an index (and to see what’s coming soon!)