Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Sounds All Around

Have you ever wondered how we hear sounds? Sounds All Around, written by Wendy Pfeffer and illustrated by Holly Keller, explains how sounds from vibrating objects make tiny bones in our ears vibrate to hear sound.

The book Sounds All Around begins by listing various sounds that young children often make and hear: “Snap your fingers. Clap your hands. Whistle! Clatter some pans. You’re making sounds!” It then explains that that each of these common actions creates sound waves that vibrate through the air. This causes tiny bones in our ears to vibrate, allowing us to hear sounds. Readers will also learn how both people and animals use sounds to communicate and bats use echolocation to find food and avoid running into objects in total darkness. In addition, there are several other interesting facts throughout the book, including that some animals, such as snakes, don’t have ears: “A snake has no ears. To hear, it puts its head on the ground. A bone in its head feels the sound vibrations.”

This book also includes several hands-on-activities related to sound for students to do after reading, such as making a tissue box guitar, listening to sounds travel through a string telephone, and playing a sounds matching game. The activities are clearly explained and could easily be completed in an elementary school classroom.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be a great resource for introducing a science lesson related to sound for Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd graders. In Virginia, this book and the activities listed at the end relate to 1st grade science SOL 1.2b, which states that students will understand that objects vibrate to produce sound.

Additional Resources

  • The A to Z Teacher Stuff website contains an Eggs Filled with Sound lesson plan, in which students use their sense of hearing to guess what objects are inside the eggs.
  • The A to Z Teacher Stuff also provides 17 experiments related to sound and its application to animals, musical instruments, and communication.
  • The PBS Kids website provides explanations of several sounds experiments for kids to do at home or at school, including a glass xylophone, string telephone, and super sounding drums.

Book: Sounds All Around
Author: Wendy Pfeffer
Illustrator: Holly Keller
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: K-2
ISBN: 0-06-027711-4