One popular primary school project is looking at the Senses. This is a super outdoor project at any time of the year. So here are some ideas to get you thinking about sounds, listening and hearing outside. I put them together for a Primary 2 class but can be easily adapted for other ages and abilities.
1. Sounding out
Listen for the number of sounds you can hear around you. Hold up one fist. Every time you hear a sound, raise a finger. Afterwards recall the sounds you hear.
2. Echo that sound
Practice copying the sounds you hear outside. Cats, dogs, gulls, sheep, cows, frogs, bees, mosquitoes, cars, etc. It can be a lot of fun. Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof! Woof-woof! Who let the bees out? Buzz, buzz! Buzz-buzz! The more realistic you get the better. This can be rowdy!
3. Sound records
If you have digital sound recorders then let children use them to record sounds outside. After each sound, ask “What is it?” Leave a 6 second pause and then say the answer. This way you have a ready-made quiz for playing back as a reminder of your trip. Children will need to be taught how to use the digital recorders prior to going outside.
4. Magic Sounds
Each child goes to their magic spot. Sit quietly and listen for the sounds. Draw or write what you hear in front of you, behind you, to your left and to your right. Use card and pencils. This can be re-done neatly indoors as a follow-up activity as a reminder of the sounds heard.
5. Owl ears
Get your children to pretend they are scooping up water using their hands as pretend cups. Ask them to tip out the water and then put the “cups” behind their ears and listen. Cupped ears collect sound like satellite dishes on the side of your head. This is how owls, rabbits and deer hear.
6. If any child discovers a snail or slug…
Encourage the children to leave it on the ground and hum to it. Experiment with different pitches. At the correct pitch, the creature will uncurl, stretch its antennae and start moving.
7. A Natural Orchestra
- Each person should go and find some natural objects to make a sound, e.g. 2 sticks to clack together or 2 stones to chink together or a handful of dry leaves to rub together. The children should walk about and play their object whilst seeing and listening to others.
- Get into a circle. Go around the group demonstrating everyone’s instruments.
- Sing a simple song. Everyone should try and keep the beat.
- Sort the group into a simple orchestra by their instruments. For example the stones might be in one group, sticks in another, leaves in another, etc.
- The orchestra plays with the teacher as the conductor, giving the instructions visually, e.g. Raising hand for a louder sound. Lowering hand for a quieter sound. Stop hand for a group to stop.