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Listening Walk

Listen to outdoor sounds.


  • audio recorder such as Apple's ipod Touch, or those made by Sony, Olympus, etc. If you have a cell phone that records, you can experiment to see if it would work for this purpose.
  • chart paper
  • clipboard and pencil

Key Science Concepts

  • Sounds have a source, and a sound can be tracked to its source.
  • Sounds can vary in volume (loud and soft), as well as pitch (high and low).
  • Different objects make different sounds.


Use words that describe sound, such as louder, quieter, softer, closer, and farther. Review action words such as imitate and repeat; as well as words that help children practice their science vocabulary, such as predict and record.


Tell children they’ll be taking a listening walk just as they did yesterday, but this time they will be going outdoors.

  1. Before heading outdoors, ask children to predict the sounds they think they will hear. List children’s ideas on a chart labeled “Our Ideas about Sound.” Take the audio recorder and a clipboard with you when you go outside.
  2. Sit outside quietly and listen to the sounds. What do the children hear? Can they imitate the sound? What do they think is making that sound? What happens to the sound if children cover and then uncover their ears? Why do they think that happens? Write children’s comments on your clipboard.
  3. Go for a listening walk together and make a list of the things you hear. If possible, follow a sound to its source. What happens to the sound as children get closer? Record some of the sounds. Practice imitating the sounds. What are the loudest sounds the children hear? What are the quietest?

Reflect and Share

When you are back inside, compare the list of predicted sounds with the list of sounds actually heard. Listen to some of the sounds you recorded while outdoors. Ask questions such as the following:

  • Sometimes you could see where sounds were coming from. What were some of these sounds, and where did they come from?
  • Sometimes you couldn’t see where sounds were coming from. How were you able to figure out what these sounds were, even if you couldn’t see what caused them?
  • Were you able to track down some of the sounds to the place they came from?