Thursday, November 19, 2009

Science of Sound

We had a great time this week playing with sound. We sorted musical instruments by their sound - which turned out to be trickier than expected.

Ears are very interesting ideas. We peered into each other's ears looking for the ear drum, but alas couldn't find it. So we had to rely on a diagram.

Slinky-s are great toys - and a great way to play with the idea of sound waves. You can pull the slinky out and then give one end a little push. You can see the wave travel from the push to the other end. That is how sound waves travel - from the source outward.

We also made a demonstration ear drum with a rubber glove and some rice. NASA has a great website exploring sound and describing a method for making your own "ear drum" model.

Science words: higher, lower, loud, soft, vibration, ear, eardrum

Try these fun activities at home to explore sound with your whole family.

Shake your Shaker: use your shaker or other sound maker to explore spatial relationships. Have your child turn their back then you make noise above, below, under, right, left… of your child. Ask them where the sound was. Then switch roles.

Bats: Bats have great ears. You can make a pair bat ears by making a large teardrop shape on two pieces of construction paper. You can cup them around your ears, or add to a head band so they sit behind your child’s ears. With your eyes closed, do the bat ears help you hear sound better if it is soft? Do you they help tell direction better than people ears?

What makes that sound? Grab some Easter eggs and add a few beans, rice, pennies, rocks, or other small objects inside it. Shake it. Can your child guess what is inside? Is it easier to guess if you shake it yourself? Sound makes vibrations we hear with our ears, but our sense of touch also can sense vibrations. Getting info from both senses might give more clues.

Munch Munch Crunch Crunch: have a loud lunch – what foods can you think of that make a lot of noise? Crunchy orange carrots, rice crispy treats, pita chips, romaine lettuce, croutons…

Go on a sound hike: Find a safe, comfy spot outdoors and sit quietly for at least a minute. What do you hear? Can you make the sounds you heard? What can you identify? What can’t you identify? How can you figure out what made those sounds?

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear? By Bill Martin, Jr.
My Five Senses by Aliki
The Ear book by Al Perkins

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


We had a a great time today at the library! The forces of magnets can be amazing and seem like magic. If you have any wooden trains or other "take-a-long" toys, play with them and check out how the magnets work. Can they stick on to anything else? Can they stick to all metal?

We made predictions about what might be picked up by a magnet and what might not be attracted to a magnet. Our piles included pom poms, paper clips, tooth picks, chenille stems, pins, and barrettes. The one thing that stumped us all was the chenille stem. Was it attracted to the magnet or not? Then we tested everything in our Yes and No piles.

Our favorite activity was painting with magnets. We put paper in a box, then stuck paper clips in paint. We used the magnets underneath the box to move the paperclips and paint on the paper. We used red and yellow paint so we could also look at color mixing too.

Science words: observation, record, force, magnet, attract, repel

Always take care to use magnets safely with young children. Be sure they cannot be swallowed or used around video equipment and cameras.

Magnet hunt – what magnets are in your house? Fridge magnets, some fridge doors, cabinet doors, wallets, toys, etc

What will a magnet stick to in the house? Can you take your magnet and find things it will stick to? Try everything that strikes your imagination. One sometimes unexpected metal spot is the door into your house.

Magnet Fishing – tie a magnet to a string and the string to a pole. Put paper clips on the end of paper fish. You can “fish” over and over. How many fish can you catch at once?

Here's a funny song about magnets:
I'm a little magnet can't you see Anything metal comes right to me. If it is not metal you will see. It just will not stick to me.