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Hearing and Sound Waves Lesson

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

Creating paper cup phones to discover how sound waves travel

Creating paper cup phones to discover how sound waves travel

This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on thematic unit study on the five senses. Build and crawl through a model of an ear, watch sound waves at work, make paper cup phones, use a stethoscope and otoscope, and more! My lessons are geared toward 3rd-4th grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons developed by another creative mom to do with our weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 14 children between the ages of 0-13. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, camp, or co-op!

Playing In the Middle Hearing game

Playing In the Middle Hearing game

Hearing Introduction

1. Pray. Read and discuss Proverbs 25:12.

2. Read Look, Listen, Taste, Touch, and Smell by Pamela Nettleton about the 5 senses. Tell children we'll be focusing on listening today.

YOU WILL NEED: Look, Listen, Taste, Touch, and Smell by Pamela Nettleton or other book on the 5 senses

Hearing Games

3. Mystery Noises: Have children turn around and close their eyes. Make noises with various objects and have children try to guess what is making that sound. Shake pennies in a can, crumple up paper, close a book, bounce a ball, hit a frying pan, etc.

YOU WILL NEED: multiple noise makers of your choice

4. In the Middle: Blindfold one person and have him sit in the middle of the group. Have the other children form a circle around the blindfolded person. Point to one of the people in the circle and have him say the seated person's name. The seated person must then try point in the direction of the voice and identify the name of the person who said his name. Try this with the seated person using both ears and then again with one ear closed. How accurate can the center person identify the caller and where the call came from? Are two ears better than one?

YOU WILL NEED: Blindfold

Making a crawl-through ear

Making a crawl-through ear

The Parts of the Ear

5. Read about the parts of the ear: Shhhh: A Book About Hearing by Dana Meachen Rau.

YOU WILL NEED: Shhhh: A Book About Hearing by Dana Meachen Rau or other book on the parts of the ear

Creating an Crawl-Through Ear

6. Make a crawl-through ear. Divide children into 3 groups and give each group a bucket with items. One group creates the outer ear. One group creates the middle ear. One group creates the inner ear. Here's what our children used:

  • Pop-up play tent = Auricle. One flap was open for the hole & the other flap was down for the eardrum.
  • Inside was yellow play-doh=earwax & brown yarn = hairs.
  • The middle ear was under a table=ear canal.
  • An empty 2-liter bottle was the Eustachian tube. We also had a 2 liter bottle filled with mustard & water to represent the Eustachian tube filled with mucus when someone's sick.
  • The hammer was a toy hammer.
  • The anvil was a toy drumstick.
  • The stirrup was a triangle (musical instrument).
  • The oval window was a plastic bin was some water which surrounds the cochlea = a dish towel wrapped about a Pledge duster (the cilia-like hairs in the cochlea) & taped to stay together. It sat in the water since there's liquid in the cochlea.
  • Jump ropes were used for the auditory nerves.
  • Pillows were used for the brain.

YOU WILL NEED: 3 plastic bins & various items such as pop-up play tent, yellow play-doh, brown yarn, a table, 2-liter bottle, 2 liter bottle filled with mustard & water, toy hammer, toy drumstick, triangle (musical instrument), plastic bin, dish towel & Pledge duster taped together, jump ropes, & pillows

Looking into a child's ear using an otoscope

Looking into a child's ear using an otoscope

Crawling Through the Ear, Stethoscope, and Otoscope

7. Divide into 3 groups.

a. Station 1: Remind the children of what each part represents. Have each child crawl through the ear twice. The first time through, have the child name each part as they go through. The second time through, have a mom tell the child a short joke and then crawl through the ear to the brain and deliver your message to the brain. The children who are waiting for their turn get to try to answer the joke/riddle. We used jokes related to the ear.

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b. Station 2: Listen to your heartbeat using a stethoscope. Let everyone get a turn. Talk about how a stethoscope works.

YOU WILL NEED: a stethoscope & alcohol wipes (or alcohol & paper towels)

c. Station 3: Look into a child's ear using an otoscope. Let everyone have a turn. Put on headphones or ear plugs & try to talk to each other. Talk about how an otoscope works and how headphones muffle sound.

YOU WILL NEED: an otoscope, alcohol wipes (or alcohol & paper towels), & ear phones or ear plugs

(Note: If you don't have access to an otoscope or stethoscope, you could have the children talk to each other through a door or wall and you could have them learn to spell their names in sign language.)



Sound Waves

8. Read about and discuss sound waves: Sounds All Around by Wendy Pfeffer.

YOU WILL NEED: Sounds All Around by Wendy Pfeffer or other book on sound waves

9. How Sound Waves Move Demo: Show how sound waves move by having two children hold a slinky and bounce it back and forth between them. Then place a large bowl of water in the middle of the group and drip a small drop of water in the middle. Have the children observe the ripples going out just like sounds waves.

YOU WILL NEED: a slinky, a large bowl of water, and a towel

Making a model eardrum using plastic wrap

Making a model eardrum using plastic wrap

Ear Drum Model

10. Make a model eardrum. Stretch plastic wrap tightly over a bowl and secure with a rubber band if the plastic wrap doesn't stick tightly. Sprinkle a few grains of sugar on the plastic and yell at it. If desired, see what happens when you yell at it through a megaphone.

YOU WILL NEED: (per group of 3-4 children): plastic wrap (NOT press-and-seal), bowl, rubber band (optional), sugar or salt, and a megaphone or papers rolled up for megaphones (optional)

Creating paper cup phones

Creating paper cup phones

Paper Cup Phones

11. Make paper cup phones. Give each child a pair of paper cups and a length of string. Have them make a hole in the bottom of each cup with a sharp pencil. Thread the ends of the string through the holes in the cups from the outside in, making a knot at each end of the string to keep the string ends from slipping out of the holes. Have one child stand at one end of the room while the other child moves as far away as needed to make the string taut. Each child will take a turn speaking into the "phone" while the other listens at the other end. This only works if the string is taut. Quickly discuss how these work using this explanation from

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) 1 length of string/yarn at least 3' long, 2 paper cups, & 1 pencil/pen

Eating noisy snacks

Eating noisy snacks

Noisy Snacks & Review

14. Eat noisy snacks

YOU WILL NEED: napkins, cups, and a few snack items that make noise (animal crackers, chips, apple slices, baby carrots, etc.)

15. 5 minute review of what we learned

Other picture book favorites for teaching about hearing, sound waves, and the five senses include

  • The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses by Joanna Cole
  • Me and My Senses by Joan Sweeney
  • Ears Are for Hearing (Let's Read and Find Out Science Book) by Paul Showers
  • Perk Up Your Ears: Discover Your Sense Of Hearing by Vicki Cobb
  • You Can't Smell a Flower with Your Ear! (Penguin Young Readers, Level 4) by Joanna Cole .
  • My oldest son also read Alexander Graham Bell by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery, which is an 80 page chapter book with lots of illustrations.

More Lessons on Attentiveness & the Five Senses

Build a crawl-through ear as you study hearing, play scales on water glasses as you study music and sound, dissect a cow eyeball as you study sight, try to identify mystery objects simply by their smell, present on various aspects of the five senses, and more during this 4 lesson hands-on unit study of the five senses!

  • Hearing and Sound Waves Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on thematic unit on the five senses. Build and crawl through a model of an ear, watch sound waves at work, make paper cup phones, use a stethoscope and otoscope, and more!
  • Music and Instruments Lesson - This is part 2 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on the five senses. See the inside of a piano and how it works, study pitch while playing water glasses, test out different instruments, and more!
  • Eyes and Seeing Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 part hands-on unit on the five senses. Make an edible model of an eye, dissect a cow eyeball, visit an eye doctor, and more!
  • Touch, Smell, & Taste Lesson in Five Senses Unit - This is part 4 of a 4 part hands-on unit on the five senses. Feel, smell, and taste mystery items, make a touch and feel book, and more!
  • Five Senses Culminating Project and Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating project for the 4 part hands-on unit on the five senses. The students created presentations on people and ideas related to the 5 senses and shared 5 Senses-themed snacks and desserts. (Recipes are included.) Also included is where we went for field trips during this unit.

Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .

StudyJams! Hearing and the Ear

The Hearing Video

World's Largest Horn Shatters Glass

Ears | Human Body Parts | Pre School | Animated Videos For Kids

Here's how you can see soundwaves!

Vibration Science Video

Konos Volume I

Konos Volume I

Konos Curriculum

Would you like to teach this way every day?

Konos Curriculum

I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful curriculum and was created by moms with active boys! This lesson is based on the unit study on Attentiveness from Konos Volume I.

Konos Home School Mentor

If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!

© 2011 Shannon

Leave Me a Note or Ask Me a Question - Let me know you dropped by! Was this lens helpful? Do you have any questions, comments, or additional ideas? Please post

Shannon (author) from Florida on April 01, 2014:

@john-tabernik: Thank you!

john-tabernik on March 23, 2014:

Great lens! Thanks!

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 19, 2012:

@dogface lm: That would be interesting. I'd love to do that sometimes when my kiddos get really noisy. :) Thank you for visiting!

dogface lm on September 18, 2012:

Hearing really is an interesting subject. I think it would be wonderful if you could completely shut down all sounds (when you wanted) - think about how easy it would be to enter a silent and peaceful state.

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 04, 2012:

@antoniow: Thank you!

antoniow on July 04, 2012:

I enjoy reading this lens, nicely done!

Shannon (author) from Florida on June 18, 2012:

@bjesparza: Thank you for the nice comment!

bjesparza on June 18, 2012:

We need good teachers! Keep it up!

Lori Green from Las Vegas on June 14, 2012:

Great homeschool lessons. I have been printing them for an hour

iWrite4 on May 20, 2012:

Thanks for sharing informations! Great lens.

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on November 19, 2011:

@JoyfulPamela2: It just occurred to me that this lens should be part of "Music is FUNdaMENTAL". Thanks!

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on October 26, 2011:

What excellent, creative, and fun lesson ideas! =D

anonymous on October 25, 2011:

Awesome sauce! I love free lesson plans on Squidoo! Woo Hoo!!

Shannon (author) from Florida on October 18, 2011:

@Close2Art LM: It would definitely produce sound waves.

Close2Art LM on October 18, 2011:

great lens, I have one about the tree falling in the woods rather or not it would make a sound, I'm curious to your opinion, great job!!! blessed

lasertek lm on May 16, 2011:

this is certainly helpful. great looking lens!

blessedmomto7 on April 21, 2011:

Great ideas! Thanks for posting all these.

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