Can You Hear Me Now?

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Students will be able to obtain information, evaluate their results and share information as they do an experiment exploring sound.

Big Idea

Using the three states of matter helps students experience sound in different ways.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.”

By saying “walking feet” I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell them they are going to watch a short video clip about one of our five senses.

“Boys and girls today we are going to watch a short video clip about one of our five senses. I want you to watch and listen closely to see if you can figure out which one of our five senses we will be exploring today. Also listen for any new scientific information which you may have questions about.”

I start the video clip called Hearing from the Brain Pop Jr. website. I like this video clip because it is short and gives lots of information in a short period of time in a simple easy to understand format.


I use this video clip and song to engage my students in a fun way to begin thinking about sound and their sense of hearing. The video clip captures the students attention, connects their thinking to the lesson we are about to do and helps them access any current knowledge they may have on the topic.


If you do not have access to Brain Pop Jr., I use this book instead: Hear This! An Exciting Way to Learn About Your Senses by Sally Hewitt. I think this book is a very good one for Kindergarten students. It has clear pictures and explains hearing in an easily understandable way. There are also activities throughout the book to try in your classroom.


40 minutes

Once the video is over I tell the students that I am going to give them a short demonstration of sound waves. I sing my “Edge of the Rug” song to get my students seated quickly and quietly around the edge of the rug area. Once the students are seated in a u shaped formation, I take a seat at the front of the u with my materials.

Teaching Challenge - How can I develop a classroom culture that encourages curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration? 

In front of me I have clear see though bowl with plastic wrap stretched tightly across the top. I explain to the students that the tightly stretched plastic wrap is like their ear drum.

Next I sprinkle a little bit of rice on top.

Now I warn the students that I am going to make rather a loud sound and if they want to cover their ears they may. I bang a metal baking pan with a wooden spoon just above the plastic wrapped bowl.

Showing how sound waves travel.

It does not take long for the rice to “jump” around on the top of the plastic and inevitably some falls off which makes the students laugh.

Discussing what we observed.

“Boys and girls you just saw evidence of sound waves travelling through the air. The vibrating sound waves caused the rice to move around and some even fell off the plastic.”
“At one of our stations today we are going to explore which state of matter is the best for sound waves to travel through.”

“We will record our results and share our information with others.”


Now I send the students over to the integrated work stations one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go get ready to have some hearing sound waves fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Once I have my group seated around my table I tell them we are going to test which state of matter is the best conductor of sound waves.

“Group one we are going to test which state of matter allows us to hear a pencil tap most clearly?”

“Before we begin our test we need to know what the three states of matter are. Does anyone know?”

I select a student who has raised their hand.

“Great Ashley: the three states of matter are solid, liquid and gas. Can anyone give me an example of a solid?”

Again I choose a student with their hand raised.

“You are absolutely right Finn; a block is a solid. A block does not change its shape; its molecules are tightly packed.”

“Can anyone give me an example of a liquid?”

“Nicely done Colin; orange juice is a liquid. It can be poured and it takes the shape of its container. The molecules slide over each other.”

“Finally can anyone give me an example of a gas?”

“Air is correct Harper. Air also takes the shape of its container and the molecules move freely about.”

"When I talked about the states of matter you heard me mention the word molecules. Does anyone have an idea what molecules are?"

Most of the time I have students who do not know and I explain to them that molecules are the building block of everything. However in this particular group I have a student whose parents are professors of science at the local college and she gave a very good explanation to the rest of the group. Harper said, "Molecules are teeny tiny chemicals that join together to make something we can either, see, taste, smell or feel." 

"Well done Harper; you gave a nice description. Molecules form molecular structures that are the building blocks of everything."

Our three states of matter.

“Here I have two Ziploc bags, a small jug of water and a wooden block. I also have a large wooden pencil.”

“First I am going to blow air into this Ziploc bag and seal it up tight.”

I do just as I said.

“Now I am going to have each of you cover one ear with your hand and leave the other ear open. I am going to place the bag of air against your ear and tap it with the pencil.”

I place the bag against each student’s ear one by one and tap it with the pencil.

Listening to sound through a gas

“How did it sound?”

“Now I am going to fill this Ziploc bag with water and do the same thing.”

I fill the Ziploc bag with water and repeat the process of having the students place one hand over one ear and I place the liquid filled bag against the other. I tap the bag and we discuss the difference in sound.

Listening to sound through a liquid

“Finally I am going to hold this wooden block against your ear and tap it.”

I repeat the above process one more time.

Listening to sound through a solid

Once the students have heard the pencil tap through each of the different states of matter we compare and discuss our observations.

Discussing what we heard.

We record the one we felt was the best conductor of sound waves in our science journals.

Student recording 1                                             Student recording 2


Allow the students 20 minutes to work on this activity.

I set the visual timer and remind the students to look at it so they can use their time wisely.


In this activity the students are exploring by analyzing which state of matter is the best conductor of sound. 


At another work station the students play a listening game with one of my parent volunteers over on the rug area. I have them play over on the rug area so the other students do not hear the sounds because then it would not be such a guessing game for them. I use the Listening Lotto: Sounds at Home game because the students are more likely to be successful at identifying the sounds. I used the farm one once; but I found the suburban and urban students had a hard time guessing the sounds. The home one offers more chances for the students to recognize the sounds (ELA - listening).

Playing listening LOTTO.


At another work station the students are working with my para-educator on how to use a glass of water to figure out how much water it takes to make a high, medium and low sound. I have already borrowed twenty glasses. On each glass I have marked three lines. One line is about a centimeter from the top; one line is a little over half way down and the last line is about a quarter of the way down the glass.

Each student is given a full glass of water. They are told to gently tap the glass with a metal teaspoon. They are to remember the sound. The students are directed to drink the water down to the next line. Once the water level reaches the middle line, the students are to tap the glass again and remember the sound. The students are then directed to drink the water until the level reaches the last line. Once again the students gently tap the glass.

Ask the students to tell you which sound was the highest and which one was the lowest. Have the students record their observations in their science journals (science and art).

Testing pitches on glasses of water. 

Student recording sheet 1                                                 Student recording sheet 2


At another station a parent volunteer monitors the students as they take cups and string and make the old “telephone” toy. I provide a different selection of cups (thin plastic, cardboard, Styrofoam, hard plastic, etc) so the students can experiment with which cups have the better “reception.” I also provide different types of string (yarn, cotton string, nylon, etc) so they can test which string vibrate and carry sound better (engineering).

Students using the cup "phone" 1                                       Students using the cup "phone" 2


These activities provide the students with the opportunity to apply and expand their understanding of the concepts within new contexts and situations thus elaborating on the information they have been presented with.

Having parent volunteers and utilizing my para-educator to run the different stations makes the learning experiences much richer for the students. I communicate the types of questions and how much "help" I want the students to receive by either talking to the adults before the day begins, or by providing detailed written instructions in the work station supply box. 


Further extension activities can be:

Students can play Sid the Science Kid’s animal sounds game at the computer station. This game has Sid asking the students to match the shadow outline of an animal to the animal sound that he or Gabriella makes. Students have to listen very closely to some of the animal sounds to match them correctly.

I have my students take turns on the computers at Free Choice Center time.  


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair and take a spot on your dot.”


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to share with us either a loud sound or a soft sound.

“For today’s exit ticket you need to share with us either a loud sound or a soft sound. Here is the tricky part, I am going to pull your name out of the fair stick container and say either, “Loud” or “Soft.” It will be your job to give me the right type of sound to match the topic you are given.”

"Who can tell me how a loud or a soft sound travels?"

I select a student with their hand raised.

"That's right Finneas; a sound does travel in waves. What kind of waves will a high pitched loud sound like a fire alarm produce?"

Once again I select a student with their hand raised. 

"Good recall Colin; a high pitched sound will have wave bands that are close together. What about a soft low sound like a cat purring?"

I make sure to select a different student to respond. 

"Absolutely right Addisyn; the bands will be further apart. Later in the day we will watch a Magic School Bus episode where the students get to see sound waves using special glasses."

“When you have shared your sound with us you may use the hand sanitizer and get your snack.”

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on a sound together.

Exit ticket - Loud sound or soft sound.


I use this exit ticket process as a way for the students to analyze what they know about sounds and explain to me what can make a loud sound or a soft sound. They have experienced many sounds during integrated work station time so they have plenty of knowledge to draw from. This quick assessment process allows me to see if the student is able to take information learned in one format can be transferred by the student to another format.  



15 minutes

In order to assess if my students have successfully understood and retained the information presented in the lesson I set out an evaluation task for morning work the next day.

As the students arrive I have the task written on the chart at the head of the classroom. It reads, “Draw four items you can hear in the classroom.”

For my higher performing students I would also request that they label their work. Other students can dictate what their item is to me and I will label it for them.

I would also ask the student to explain to me what a sound is and which state of matter conducts sound the best. I will record their answers directly into their science journals so I have an anecdotal record of their replies to share as evidence of learning.  

Student sample 1                                Student sample 2                                 Student sample 3