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Lesson One: Sounds all Around

How can sounds give us clues about environments?

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard A: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry

  • Understanding about scientific inquiry.
  • Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses.

Content Standard B: Physical Science

  • Sound is produced by vibrating objects. The pitch of the sound can be varied by changing the rate of vibration.

Content Standard C: Life Science

  • Organisms and their environments

Content Standard E: Science and Technology

  • Abilities to distinguish between natural objects and objects made by humans.

Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

  • Changes in environments

NCSCOS Science

Competency Goal One: The learner will conduct investigations and build an understanding of animal life cycle.

Competency Goal Four: The learner will conduct investigations and use appropriate technology to build an understanding of the concepts of sound.

NCSCOS Music Objectives

GOAL 6: The learner will listen to, analyze, and describe music. (National Standard 6)

  • 6.03 Use appropriate terminology in explaining music, music notation, music instruments and voices, and music performances.
  • 6.07 Show respect while listening to and analyzing music.

GOAL 8: The learner will understand relationships between music, the other arts, and content areas outside the arts. (National Standard 8)

  • 8.02 Identify ways in which the principles and subject matter of other content areas taught in the school are related to those of music.


Students will listen to a variety of soundscapes and use their observations to decide what sounds occur in certain habitats. Students will utilize appropriate terminology and identify whether they are a product of human production or the natural environment. Students will explore the music of nature and the nature of music.

Background information for teacher:

Sound is created by vibrating objects that produce sound waves. These waves travel through a medium and are received by our ears which along with our brains process the information into sound and create meaning. The predominant purpose of sound is for communication. Communicative sounds immersed within a soundscape create musical texture. Sounds can be made by tapping (percussion instruments), plucking (string instruments) or blowing air (wind and brass instruments) across an object. Each of these actions cause vibrations. We hear sound when a moving object makes the air vibrate.


  • Sound — a particular auditory impression
  • Environment — the area in which something exists or lives; the totality of surrounding conditions
  • Natural — existing in or in conformity with nature or the observable world
  • Man made — made by humans rather than occurring in nature
  • Dynamics — degrees of loudness
  • Pitch — the highness or lowness of a tone, as determined by the frequency of vibrations per second
  • Duration – amount of time or a particular time interval
  • Tempo — the speed of music
  • Texture — (music) — the number of simultaneous sounding lines. The manner in which horizontal pitch sequences are organized
  • Soundscape — sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from immersive environment (i.e. natural sounds, animal vocalizations, sounds of weather, natural and environmental elements sounds created by humans)


  • An assortment of musical soundscapes,
  • CD player,
  • Science notebook


45 minute period

Process Skills:

  • Observe,
  • Communicate,
  • Predict,
  • Infer

Procedure: (Engage, Explore)

  1. Ask students to predict what kinds of sounds they would hear in places such as a jungle, forest, ocean, or use examples of weather, etc.
  2. Dim the lights and play an assortment of musical soundscapes. (jungle sounds, weather sounds, forest sounds, ocean sounds).
  3. Students will listen to the various sound clips and label which environment they represent.
Animals – A Man-made -M Natural – N
1. N 7. 13. 19. 25. 31. 37. 43. 49. 55.
2. A 8. 14. 20. 26. 32. 38. 44. 50. 56.


9. 15. 21. 27. 33. 39. 45. 51. 57.
4. 10. 16. 22. 28. 34. 40. 46. 52. 58.


11. 17. 23. 29. 35. 41. 47. 53. 59.
6. 12. 18. 24. 30. 36. 42. 48. 54. 60.
  1. Students will divide into 3-6 groups. Each group will listen to a soundscape. Students will write describing words in their science notebook to discuss the sounds. Encourage students to utilize proper musical terminology to describe what they hear. [loud/soft (dynamics), long/short (duration), fast/slow (tempo), high/low (pitch)]
  2. Students will represent the soundscape through kinesthetic movement. Students infer which location in the world they are observing. Each group will share their soundscape with the class while other groups create anecdotal notes of each environmental soundscape.
  3. Allow students time to explore various instruments to connect/relate to the environments. (ex. ocean drum/sandblocks/seashells – Ocean; shakere/conga drum/djembe/gathering drum - Jungle, rainstick/talking frog - Forest
  4. Students discuss the difference between animal sounds, geophony - Earth and Weather sounds, manmade and natural sounds (traffic etc).

Class Reflection: (Explain)

  1. What sort of sounds did we hear? (i.e. thunder, lions etc.)
  2. How can we describe these sounds? (loud, distinct (animal) )
  3. What causes the sounds? (animals, people, things…)

Elaborate: (Extend)

Authentic Assessment: (Evaluate)

  1. Group participation.
  2. Science notebook activity.