1. Using mind maps to organise thinking about sound

The environment is a valuable resource for exploring sounds and how different natural materials can produce sound.

The aim of this part is to broaden your pupils’ understanding and experience of different types of sound, and to see themselves and their immediate environment as music resources. Case Study 1 and Activity 1 show how sounds in everyday life are a good starting point for this topic. These activities could be extended to ask pupils to make their own instruments from everyday materials (tin cans, bottles and so on) or you may be fortunate enough to have pupils who can play an instrument or sing. Organise for them to demonstrate their skills to the class.

See Resource 1: Exploring soundl for background information and Science, Module 3, Section 2 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   for more information on sound and musical instruments.

Case Study 1: Making a mind map to link materials and sound

In her primary class in Soweto, South Africa, Ms Simelane notices two boys tapping the desk. She listens carefully as they create a rhythmic conversation using the desk as a drum. Then they tap their pencil cases. Ms Simelane draws attention to their music, asking the class to close their eyes and listen. ‘Are they making music? How?’ ‘What different sounds can you hear?’ The pupils become interested in using their desks, pens and pencil cases to make sound. She lets them explore the different sounds they can make at their desks, using the objects around them. They listen to each other’s sounds and comment on the ways they are made.

Ms Simelane asks her pupils to suggest materials that make sounds and records these on a mind map on the board. She encourages them to think about the relationship between materials and sound. ‘What kind of sound do we hear when we hit a bottle with a spoon? Or blow across a bottle opening?’ ‘What sounds do different sized drums make?’ ‘How do we describe sound?’ She adds their ideas to the mind map.

She is pleased with their responses and sees this as a starting point for the pupils to make their own instruments using materials from the local environment (see Resource 2: Making instruments).

At the end of the lesson, she asks them to go home and collect as many different materials as they can and bring these into school to add to those she has been collecting. Next week they will make and demonstrate these instruments.

Activity 1: A sound walk

  • Before the lesson, read Resource 3: Listening to sounds in everyday life.
  • Ask your pupils to be very quiet and listen to the sounds they can hear in the classroom.
  • In groups, or with the whole class grouped around you, brainstorm all the sounds they could hear on a large piece of paper or the chalkboard. (See Key Resource: Using mind maps and brainstorming to explore ideas.)
  • Next, organise small groups of pupils (four/five) to go out at intervals and walk around the school grounds. They should stop in four places and listen very carefully to what they can hear. They should take pens or pencils and their books or paper or a clipboard for this.
  • Each group should note down every new sound they hear and where they hear it, and try to identify what is making the sound and how it is made.
  • On their return to class, ask each group to draw their own mind map of their ‘sound walk’.
  • When these are finished, display them for all to see and discuss their ideas about how sounds are made.

Section 4: Using music in the classroom

2. Working in groups to write a praise poem