Friday, February 11, 2022

Science of Sound Instrument Creation Project- Create your own Virtual Instrument Museum!

I just finished up a Science of Sound instrument creation unit with my 3rd and 4th grade and it turned out so cool!  We learned all about the science of sound, invented and made instruments from recycled materials and then made posters/ videos advertising our instruments so the school could check them out! Students were SO creative. 

First, we did some science sound experiments and watched a few awesome science of sound videos (including the Sound Museum Magic School bus)!  These videos showed us that, first, SOMETHING on the instrument needs to vibrate, and second, that the faster the vibrations, the higher the sound.  After watching the short videos, we did our own experiments with salt on Tubano Drums, noticing that if you tapped with a mallet consistently the salt traveled to the edge of the drum but did not fall off.  Other experiments you could do are the cans/ string telephones, building a water xylophone, and more! Through our experiments, realized that the bigger something is, the slower the vibrations are and therefore, the lower the sound. Small things are able to vibrate quickly so they make a higher sound.  I like to say either "Big is low, small is high and that'll be true to the day we all die and even after that cause it's science." Or "Small is high, Big is low, that is science we should all know."  I do remind them that it is the size of the part of the instrument that vibrates that determines the pitch, not the size of the instrument itself.  

We learned all about the different classifications of instruments, too. Not only the orchestra families (Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, and Keyboards), but also the main categories in the Hornbostel–Sachs classification system.

Idiophone- primarily produce their sounds by means of the actual body of the instrument vibrating.

Aerophone- primarily produce their sounds by means of vibrating air. The instrument itself does not vibrate, and there are no vibrating strings or membranes.

Chordophone- primarily produce their sounds by means of the vibration of a string or strings that are stretched between fixed points.

Membranophone- primarily produce their sounds by means of the vibration of a tightly stretched membrane.

Electrophone- instruments involving electricity. 

Finally, it was time for students to design their instrument.  They had some guiding questions to think about while brainstorming. 

What materials do I need? 

What will vibrate on my instrument? 

How will my instrument be played?

What makes my instrument new and special?

What HB-S category will my instrument be part of? 

After building, students were tasked with making an advertising poster and video using the following guidelines:

Describe your instrument with 3 facts, using complete sentences.

Draw a picture of your instrument (or take a picture and print it!) 

Take a video of you playing your instrument.  It can just be the instrument sound OR it can be a full commercial.

Once the posters and videos (in FLIPGRID) were complete, I was able to easily print out a QR code for each video. We attached the videos to our posters and then hung them in the hallway.

This whole process took about 6 weeks (not doing it all the time, but at least once a week)

To check out each others instruments, we had one day where we just used our school chrome books and this QR reader website to walk around our "Virtual Instrument Museum" and read about/ watch the instruments in action. We had at least one instrument from each HB-S. Most were idiophones, but we did have a lot of chordophones, a few membranophones, some aerophones, and even an electrophone with the help of a Makey Makey kit. It was so fun! Some younger grades got in on the action as well.

In addition to the student created instruments, we also had a few posters and QR codes that featured instruments students see and hear all around them. Orchestral instruments, guitars, ukuleles, classroom percussion, and more.

After travelling the hallways of our own museum, We also took some time to virtually visit some other awesome Instrument Museums, like the Musical Instrument Museum in Arizona and the National Instrument Museum in South Dakota. Check them out for yourself using the links below!

Walk through the Musical Instrument Museum Google Street Style! -

National Instrument Museum Interactive Map- First Floor-

National Instrument Museum Interactive Map - 2nd Floor-

Have you done an instrument creation project? 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Tuesday Book Club - It's So Quiet


It's So Quiet by Sherry Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tony Fucile is a MAGICAL book- especially for Kindergarten and 1st Grade.   It follows a young mouse who, at first, thinks it is too quiet in his bedroom when he is trying to go to sleep.  He soon realizes that the night is full of sounds like croaking bullfrogs, snoring grandpas, and hooting owls.  

It's So Quiet - A not quite going to bed book

K and 1 had So. Much. Fun. Using instruments and our voices to add sound effects. My toughest class was totally engaged the entire time we did this activity. 

Guiros we’re croaking frogs, Triangles we’re chirping crickets, Windchimes were the wind (of course) and our drums were the dogs tail hitting the floor. Each student got one instrument and only played when it was their turn.   We also ALL got to snore like grandpa, hoot like owls, and howl like coyotes.  The great thing about this book is each sound-effect is used the same amount of times in the book (3) so everyone gets equal turns!

While reading, we got to practice loud vs quiet, watching a conductor, and using our listening ears. So much jam-packed into using this adorable book!

Kinders with their Instruments! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Tuesday Book Club - Ear Worm! by Jo Knowles

Check out this ADORABLE book that just came out! Ear Worm! by Jo Knowles and illustrated by Galia Bernstein is a book about those little tunes that get stuck in your head. In the book there is a little worm that has a song stuck in his head. As the worm is "walking" around, trying to figure out where the tune came from, each friend it meets has a different ear worm they are singing. Ultimately, they all come together to make beautiful music.

Ear Worm by Jo Knowles - Click to get the book!

The possibilities are endless with this musical book! 

You could easily just read it and have fun with each of the ear worms our worm friend comes across.  

Peak inside the book- Focused on the Owl and Chipmunk Ear Worms 

One way to extend and make the book even more musical is with an orffestration! I made one (click HERE to get it!) that includes pitched percussion, such as xylophones and glockenspiels, as well as unpitched percussion.  In the sheet music, the unpitched percussion is listed as a conga (but it could be any drum), maracas (but a cabasa would also be awesome for this one, too) and jingle bells. It also includes a little song with lyrics from the end of the book.  Feel free to use whatever you think would sound awesome if you decide to try out my orffestration - or make your own! 

Orffestration Preview

As we all know, teacher-made orffestrations can be fun, but it is even more awesome to have the kids make it up! Split your class into 5 groups and then give each an animal. They can then give their animal's ear worm a melody using a Xylo set up in pentatonic, unpitched percussion, or use chrome music lab in the pentatonic mode. You choose or they choose! Once each group has created their melody and mastered playing/ saying you can combine them all together as one great big ostinato song!  

Either the teacher-made orffestration, or student-made song would be an adorable performance piece.  Ideas are already spinning about an Ear Worm themed concert. Not only could you perform this book, but also perform songs/ routines to other "Ear Worm" songs.  Bruno, anyone???