Resources needed:

  • Sound clips
  • Corresponding pictures
  • Tissue paper
  • Glass bowl
  • Speaker/sound system
  • Cling film



  1. Ask the children to close their eyes and listen carefully to the sounds around them for one minute.
  2. When the minute is up, ask for a list of sounds which the children heard. These may include clocks ticking, people shuffling or coughing, noise from other classrooms etc. Ask the children why they think that sounds which are in other rooms or further away sound quieter or less clear.

Teaching point: Sounds are vibrations that can travel through different materials. The pitch of a sound is how high or low the sound is. The loudness of a sound is how loud or soft it is. The further the vibrations have to travel, the quieter they sound.

  1. Give out two or three pictures of things which make sounds to each child. Go to a free sound clip website (such as and choose sounds which correspond to the pictures you have given to the children. Give out easier/harder sounds appropriately.
  2. As each sound is played, ask the child holding the card to hold it up to show everyone else. Maintain attention by occasionally repeating a sound clip!
  3. Ask the children to hold up sounds they think are louder, or clearer. Now hold up sounds which are less clear or quieter. Why is this?
  4. Stretch cling film over the glass bowl and make little tissue paper balls to sit on the cling film. Place the bowl near the speakers and turn on some music with a regular beat. Do this quietly at first and then gradually increase the volume until the tissue paper balls start to ‘jump’ in time to the music. This shows the effect of sound waves travelling. What happens if you move the bowl nearer or further away?


Further Activities:

Pour a small amount of rice onto a drum and let the children experiment with hitting it softly and then more forcefully. What happens to the rice each time? What does this show us?

Show a picture of the inner ear and explain how sound passes through air molecules until it is picked up by our ears. Where does the sound travel?

Ask the children to complete a sound diary at home, noting all the sounds they can hear every day. Which ones are loudest? Which sounds are the most soothing/irritating/alarming/enjoyable?

Discuss musicians such as Beethoven or Evelyn Glennie, who were both deaf. Read about their amazing achievements and write a biography for them.

Wear a pair of thick ear muffs for several minutes. What effect does this have on our hearing? How do the earmuffs change how we hear clearly?

Curriculum Areas covered:


(Y4)Pupils should be taught to:

  • identify how sounds are made, associating some of them with something vibrating
  • recognise that vibrations from sounds travel through a medium to the ear
  • find patterns between the pitch of a sound and features of the object that produced it
  • find patterns between the volume of a sound and the strength of the vibrations that produced it
  • recognise that sounds get fainter as the distance from the sound source increases.