Did you know that children’s brains develop faster with musical training? Read to learn how you can integrate music into your lessons at school or home.
Are you familiar with STEAM? Wait…I bet you thought I made a mistake and meant to write STEM! Well there is now a STEAM, which integrates Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Let’s face it, when you think about it, the arts easily integrates science, technology, engineering and math when it comes to writing and composing music, designing and making musical instruments and creating sculptures. There are so many more ways that the arts are connected to the sciences, but that will have to wait for another post!
A few years ago making music from recycled materials or everyday household items might be considered crafts, but today these ideas are considered STEAM activities, which encourage and promote discovery in learning. Here are two examples of easy STEAM activities that you can try with your primary-aged children that involve music and or sound.
1. Create a Tune
I had tons of fun trying this one out myself! Use 3 drinking glasses or glass jars, a pitcher of water and spoons make 3 different sounds or pitches! Create a simple progression of pitches that start low and increase to a higher pitch.
Materials Needed for Each Partnership:
- 3 small glasses (can all be the same size and thickness or you can add a variety of glasses.)
- 1 plastic pitcher of water
- 1 spoon
Use the 3 glasses, water and spoons to create different pitched sounds. You may pour water into the glasses and use the spoon to carefully tap the glasses. As you circulate or observe children experimenting with the spoons, water and glasses, you can use these questions to facilitate learning:
- What ideas do you have to begin this challenge?
- How did you make sounds with the water, glasses and spoons?
- What discoveries have you noticed when you tap the glasses with the spoons?
- How can you make different sounds with the glasses and spoons?
- What problems have you encountered with this activity?
- How will you try to solve these problems?
- Did this idea work?
- Did you make any changes? If so, what changes did you decide to make and why?
- Explain what worked for you and what didn’t work and why?
- How do you think this challenge relates to musicians or to a composer creating music?
Extended Challenge for Early Finishers:
Now that you have figured out how to make different sounds with the glasses, water levels and spoons, compose a song or tune using the different pitches you have discovered. You may also want to give each pair additional glasses and water to make more sounds to add to their musical compositions.
Expected Outcomes or Learning:
Children will discover:
- How different levels of water poured into a glass will affect the sound heard when tapped with a spoon.
- How the placement of the spoon, when tapping may affect the sound created.
- When glasses are filled at different levels with water and tapped with a spoon, different sounds are created.
- STEAM can be motivating and fun!
- Try using a ruler or tape measure and see what happens if the water level is changed slightly and record your findings.
2. Make a Musical Instrument:
My kiddos loved doing this…well actually I did too! Using different household or recycling items create a musical instrument that produces sound.
- Various materials such as; large rubber bands, small rectangular boxes, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, some thumbtacks, cardboard or cardstock paper, straws, scotch tape, markers, rulers, sharpened and unsharpened pencils, strings, empty coffee cans, beans, scissors and perhaps other recycled materials that you have on hand.
- Any materials you can think of that might work for this challenge.
Using any of the materials provided, create a musical instrument that produces sound. Have your kids think about what they already know about music, sound, and instruments as they are creating their instruments.
As you circulate or observe children experimenting with the materials provided to create their musical instruments, use the following questions to encourage learning:
- Why did you choose those materials to create your instrument?
- What kind of instrument are you creating?
- How did you decide what instrument to make?
- Did you choose any additional materials? Why?
- Did you put back any materials that you originally selected? Why?
- Show me how your instrument works.
- What changes did you make when creating your instrument?
- How did these changes affect the sound of your instrument?
- Did the changes work? Why or why not?
- Do you like the sound that your instrument produces? Why or why not?
- Was this hard or easy for you? Why?
- What have you learned about making a musical instrument?
- If you had the opportunity to do this again what would you change and why?
Extended Challenge for Early Finishers or Extension Activities:
- Have children get together with another friend/s who have completed their instruments and create a duet /trio to perform for the class.
- Create another instrument and compare and contrast your learning.
- Compare and contrast your instrument to a friend’s instrument. How are they alike and different?
- What instrument is like yours in the “real world” of instruments?
Expected Outcomes or Learning:
- How various changes can affect the sound of an instrument.
- Sound can be different when using different materials. (Cardboard verses metal, etc.)
- Each instrument has a unique sound and no two instruments sound exactly the same.
So there you go…2 easy and fun STEAM challenges that your kiddos will love!!
About the All-Star Blogger
Kathy is a retired 1st and 2nd grade looping teacher, who taught full time and part time in her hometown of Springfield, PA for 30+ years. She is wife, mom of three grown children and as of today a Mimi of three with one on the way. Kathy volunteers in her daughter’s Kindergarten Special Education classroom weekly. She loves to create, write and has an obsession for shoes and chocolate.