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21 September 2014
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Ages 5 - 6 Ages 6 - 7 Ages 7 - 8
Ages 8 - 9 Ages 9 - 10 Ages 10 - 11

Science topics ages 9 - 10
Changing sounds

Curriculum relevance | Online lesson plan
Offline lesson plan | Worksheet | Activity

Online lesson plan


Understand how the pitch of an instrument can be altered

Understand how the loudness of an instrument can be altered

National Curriculum

England: Key Stage 2, Sc1 2f; Sc4 3f

Wales: Key Stage 2, Physical processes, 3.7

Northern Ireland: Key Stage 2, Physical processes, Sound, a

Scotland: 5-14 Guidelines, Science, Properties and uses of energy, Level D

Resources required

Online activity from Science Clips website: Changing sounds

Four cards with High pitch, Low pitch, High volume, Low volume written on them

Teaching activities

Ask children to think of words that describe sounds, e.g. loud, quiet, vibration, pitch. What things make sounds? Lead the children to point out sound is made when there is a vibration. Tell the children that the frequency of a sound is a measure of the number of vibrations or waves per second. Explain that a sound with a high frequency will make a high-pitched sound, and one with a low frequency will make a low-pitched sound. Explain that pitch is a measure of how high or low a sound is.

Open the online activity on the interactive whiteboard. Tell the children they are going to look at the sounds made by three instruments. Select the one-string guitar. Show children how to shorten or lengthen the string, and how to give it a gentle or strong pluck. Select the drum. Show children how to tighten or loosen the skin, and how to give it a gentle or strong bang. Select the bottle filled with water. Show children how to alter the amount of water, and how to give it a gentle or a strong blow.

Divide the children into groups with a computer for each group. Allow each group time to work through the tasks that are written (and read aloud) at the top of the screen. Ask children to record their observations. Walk around the groups, ensuring children understand that, for example, for stringed instruments: the longer the string, the lower the pitch and the shorter the string, the higher the pitch. Ensure for each instrument, they record both parts of the relationship.

Put the four cards face down at the front of the class (the two volume cards in one pile and the two pitch cards in a second pile). Ask a child to come out and select one card from each pile. The child must then play an instrument on the online activity (on the interactive whiteboard) to match the two cards taken. The rest of the class should then guess which cards the child had selected.


Ask children to click on the Sorter button on the online activity, and arrange the sounds in order of pitch and loudness. They could then attempt the quiz.

Suggested homework

Challenge the children to design and make a musical instrument that can be played at high or low volume, and at high or low pitch.


Resources for teachers

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