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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 6

Language and literacy intention(s) We are learning to explain, using scientific vocabulary, how sound can be used in the world around us.
Opportunities for Key competencies development Thinking
Using Language Symbols & Texts
Participating & Contributing
Relating to Others
Managing Self
Principles and values coherence High Expectations
Learning to Learn

Big Idea - Musical instruments must make the air vibrate before we can hear music. The materials used in musical instruments are chosen for their properties of vibration.

A question for the class - Ever thought how large groups of people heard plays and music before concerts and amplifiers?

Want to know how the Ancient Greeks and Romans performed in theatres without electric amplifiers and speakers? View clip.

Students discuss the reason the Ancient Romans and Greeks built theatres in the way they did 2000 years ago? Can students identify buildings of similar design?
Building styles have changed with the use of electric amplifiers and sound systems but the next challenge is to develop a non-digital, non-electric musical instrument.

Students will be given the time and opportunity to plan and record how they will construct their own non digital/non electronic instrument from everyday items. Students can select to construct their own string, wind or percussion instrument.

Instrumental design can be original or acknowledge cultural and personal significance to the student.

The teacher shares with students how everyday items can become instruments. View some clips to support in idea development.
The voice as a non electronic instrument

Singing wine glasses with Steve Spangler.
The slip and slide technique in wine glasses containing water - varying tone, pitch, volume

Make a home made Xylophone with glasses and water

How to make a Vuvuzela sound

Create a musical instrument

Students will be given time to plan, construct, experiment and tune their instrument for performance.

Students will create and present a poster (PDF 63KB) explaining how their musical instrument has been constructed. It is a requirement that the instrument produces sound.

Once the instruments have been constructed students will perform either on their own or in a group of three (possibly one wind one string, and one percussion).
Students will also be expected as part of their performance to explain their understanding of sound and use scientific vocabulary and meaning (eg. waves vibration, tone, pitch, wavelength and volume)

The information needs to be presented as an explanation.

Choices of presentation could include:

  • iMovie
  • Power Point / Photo Story 3
  • Comic Life / Free hand cartoon sequencing
  • Photo storyboard with captions
  • Audio recording
  • Live performance to the class/peers

The style in which the information is presented is up to the students. It could be presented as a – rap, poem, chant, song, David Attenborough style commentary etc.

Assessment Opportunities

Students will peer assess presented work based against an agreed class criteria in terms of their scientific understanding and use of science specific vocabulary.

As a summative assessment the teacher will also assess the students against the agreed criteria in terms of their scientific understanding and use of science specific vocabulary when sharing their explanation.

Possible examples would be:

  • Students’ ability to define how sound is created and transmitted
  • Student’s ability to select and explain the meaning of two new Sound words, their meanings and giving real life examples
  • Students are able to demonstrate, using their instrument, and explain …

Teacher support and background knowledge of what an Explanation contains can be found at e-asTTle Teacher Resources.

Resources for teacher modelling, scaffolding and student participation in understanding the structure of an explanation can be found at:

Published on: 21 Jan 2011