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Science Kids on the Loose

Sound Garden

Make a sound garden filled with lots of different, great sounds. Compare and contrast sounds made by different materials.

Download this activity (pdf)


  • Plastic things to play and play with – bowls, buckets, food savers, big spoons
  • Wooden things-blocks, bowls, spoons
  • Metal things-bowls, pails, pots, pans, spoons


  1. Group items by material. Ask children if they know what the things in each pile are made out of. If they do not, provide the words for them.
  2. Start by letting kids “play” the plastic items with a big plastic spoon. What does plastic sound like? It might be hard to describe in words so it’s ok to just listen. Try making a loud sound. Now try to make a soft one.
  3. Now use a wooden spoon to play some of the wooden items. Does wood sound different from plastic? Can you make a loud sound? Can you make a soft one?
  4. Finally, play the metal things with a metal utensil. Does the sound remind you of anything? Does it sound different than the plastic and wood?
  5. Now play around with different kinds of spoons and “instruments.” Make sure no one’s napping nearby, then have fun!

Take It Further

  • Preschoolers sometimes have difficulty identifying the material an object is made from. In this activity, material is highlighted because each kind makes a distinct kind of sound. Be sure to use the labels for the materials and encourage children to use them, too.
  • You could extend this activity by playing an "instrument" that children can't see. Without looking at the instrument, can they tell what it is made out of just by listening?
  • Remind children that some things are not safe to play with in this way. Glass bowls, for example, could break. Let them know that it's really important to ask an adult to help them play sound garden.

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Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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