Teach about the science of sounds with a variety of hands-on demonstrations, experiments and games will ensure that preschoolers have a clear understanding of the topic. If possible give the children a chance to repeat some of the activities on different days. Learning about sound will be lots of fun with these experiements.
Use these ideas to teach your preschoolers about vibrations and sound.
Have two children hold opposite ends of a jump rope. Ask one child to shake her end of the rope one time. What happens? Shake it again with more force and then more gently. Observe how the jump rope moves and explain that this is how air moves; carrying sound when something vibrates nearby. Repeat the demonstration with other children.
Making paper cup telephones is an easy way to teach preschoolers about how sound travels. Give each child a paper cup and a partner and have them stand across the room from each other and talk quietly into the cups. Can they hear each other clearly? Then help the children poke holes in the bottom of their cups and thread a piece of string through the holes. Tie a paper clip on each end to keep the string from pulling out. Then have them children go back to their same spots and let one child talk into his cup while the other listens. Make sure the string is pulled taut. Are the words heard more clearly? When someone talks into the cup, the bottom of the cup vibrates and the string carries the sound to the other cup. Ask them what they think will happen if the string is held loosely and then let the children experiment to find out.
Quiet and Loud
Let students explore different types of sounds with these activities about quiet and loud.
Show the children a variety of objects that can be used to make sounds: bells, instruments, rattles, blocks, cardboard tubes, etc. Talk about the sounds they make. Are they quiet or loud? Arrange children into groups of two or three. Give each group a few items to work with. Challenge them to use their objects to make quiet sounds, then loud ones. Let a few groups share how they made quiet and loud sounds.
Read the book Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli to the class. Brainstorm a list of more things that are quiet or loud. Give the children pictures of different objects that make sounds and have them sort the pictures by whether they are quiet or loud. This would be a good science center activity too.
Teach your preschoolers how bats, dolphins and other animals use echolocation to locate objects with these science activities. Echolocation activities are perfect for a nocturnal animal theme too.
Bats emit high-pitched sounds that bounce off objects and return to them, helping them gather information, like the size and location of the object. Use this experiment to demonstrate echolocation. On a table or large desk tape down two cardboard papers towel tubes at angles so that they face each other, but aren’t touching. About twelve inches away tape an aluminum pie plate on its side. For the experiment one child whispers into one of the tubes and the other child listens at the end of the other tube. The sound will bounce off the pie plate and travel back through the other tube so that the other child can hear it.
Play a game about echolocation to help children understand how it works. Designate one child to be the bat and four to be insects. Blindfold the “bat” and have him stand with the other children forming a circle around him. The child who is blindfolded then blows a whistle or squeaks a toy and four “insects” shake a rattle or maraca back at him. The “bat” repeats the squeak and the “insects” rattle back until the bat locates one of the insects.
The Worlds of David Darling: Children's Encyclopedia of Science
Science for Preschoolers