Kenan Fellows Program Logo and page header graphic


Lesson One: Where is sound in our environment?


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.

Learning Outcomes:

The learner will be able to identify a variety of sounds in the environment, discuss the sounds using appropriate terminology and identify whether they are a product of human production or the natural environment. They will also identify the purpose for the sounds such as communication.

Curriculum Alignment:

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

  • Position and motion of objects
  • 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

  • The characteristics of organisms
  • Organisms and their environments

Content Standard E: Science and Technology

  • Understanding about science and technology
  • Abilities to distinguish between natural objects and objects made by humans.

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)

  • 8.01 Identify similarities and differences in the meanings of common terms used in the other arts.
  • 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.

Interdisciplinary Connections

NC SCOS Visual Art Objectives

Goal 3: The learner will organize the components of a work into a cohesive whole through knowledge of organizational principles of design and art elements. (National Standard 2 )

  • 3.06 Name different textures on surfaces, for example: rough, smooth, bumpy.

Goal 7: The learner will perceive connections between visual arts and other disciplines. (National Standard 7)

  • 7.01 Identify similarities and differences between the visual arts and other disciplines.


One 60 minute lesson


  • Recording device,
  • Science notebooks,
  • Speakers,
  • Data projector (if available)

Technology Resources:

Recording device such as Raven lite software



Ask students what types of sounds they would expect to hear outside? Do a Think, Pair and Share activity by having students generate a list of sounds they might expect to hear. First the student will think on his/her own, then share ideas with a partner, then share ideas as a class.


The students will take a sound walk around the school to aurally observe their environment. They will silently pause at several locations and close their eyes to really concentrate on listening and process what they hear. The students will also pause along the walk to allow time to record their observations in their science notebook. The teacher should carry a tape recording device to record the sounds encountered on the walk.


Back inside, the students discuss the sounds they heard and recorded. Each student gives a sound and discusses what made the sound and any information they discovered about it - loud/soft (dynamics), far away/near, long/short (duration), high/low (pitch), fast/slow (tempo), made by a machine etc.) The teacher should discuss with the students how these sounds created a soundscape. The teacher will play and explore soundscape examples from the Wild Music website. Use some created soundscape examples and test student’s aural predictions. Using the recorded observations from their science notebooks, the students will create a visual soundscape to represent what they heard during the sound walk on drawing paper. Have the students discuss how these sounds relate to music. Students will then collaboratively discuss the music of nature and the nature of music. Students will identify the sound of each object without naming the object. The various “layers” of sounds will create an illustrious view of how each individual interprets sound. The teacher will facilitate how the soundscape creates musical texture. Students will compare and contrast musical texture and texture in visual art.


The teacher plays back the sound walk that was recorded. Students will compare their artistic depictions to the actual sounds they previously heard. Using sticky notes the teacher will help the students create a Hear, Think, Wonder chart to identify sounds that they may not have heard the first time. They write what they think they heard, what possibly made that sound, and record any questions they have or what puzzles them about the sounds. Example:

Hear Think Wonder
Tweet tweet A bird (maybe a cardinal) When does a bird sing?
Beep Truck What makes horn noises sound different?


The student will identify sounds in the environment as environmental noises or caused by humans and identify reasons for sound (communication).

The student will describe sounds from the sound walk using appropriate terminology such as pitch, dynamics, tempo and duration.


  • Think
  • Pair and Share; Think
  • Puzzle
  • Wonder


  • 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
  • Human made - made by humans rather than occurring in nature
  • Dynamics - degrees of loudness
  • Piano – soft
  • Forte - loud
  • 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
  • Texture (visual art) - an element of art that is the way an object feels or looks like it feels
  • 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)