Sub-Project: Exploring the sounds of nature and exploring early graphic notation
Description: Listening is an incredibly important skill to develop. Although it seems like a basic and obvious thing, not many children have experienced lying down on the grass with their eyes closed and concentrating on what they can hear from nature, rather than being stimulated by listening to friends, the T.V. and so on. It is a very “grounding” and relaxing experience to learn how to stop and listen. This skill can help children in the classroom in many ways!
Take the children on a nature walk. Choose a day when the ground is dry and bring blankets with you. Head to the park or some place where there is a nice big patch of grass. Allow children to settle down with their eyes closed and spend a good 5 minutes listening to the sounds around them. At the end of the time, let everyone say what they heard and write it down.
As children get older, you can increase the amount of time spent listening with their eyes closed. Vary this activity by giving children certain sounds to focus on, such as high vs. low pitched or nature vs. mechanical sounds.
Once back in the classroom, begin your project. Inspired by this beautifully simple and illustrated book “The Sound Of Things” by William Wondriska – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0oFEypm09A – we are going to combine sounds visually associating them with their sound source that we “collected” at our listening walk.
For younger children have them draw the sound sources they heard or collect those sounds sources and display them in the room. For older children, have the children first draw the nature object/ sound source they heard and then talk about what the sound “sounded” like, facilitating what the sound would look like if they were to draw it. Get inspiration for William Wondriska’s simple graphics. Have the children draw the sounds next to the sound source. The outputs are beautiful.
Repeat this project several times to see how nature sounds vary according to seasonality or different times of the day.
Collaborative Project: Participate with another school and exchange findings. What sounds did your children hear? What did their sounds look like? Were there any sounds that were the same?
Learning Objective: Develop listening skills by lying on the grass, closing your eyes and absorbing the sounds of nature. At first you might not hear a lot, but slowly children will start to notice a whole world of sounds. Combining the visual component to sound, beginning with graphic notation and pre-literacy skills.
Time Frame: when the ground is dry, or in the snow (making sure children have something warm and waterproof on).