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Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Subject Area





The students will create a communication device using everyday resources. The students will explain how vibration is used to create sound and sound waves.

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 1


    Conduct experiments to provide evidence that vibrations of matter can create sound (e.g., striking a tuning fork, plucking a guitar string) and sound can make matter vibrate (e.g., holding a piece of paper near a sound system speaker, touching your throat while speaking).

    Unpacked Content



    • vibrations/vibrate
    • matter
    • sound
    • evidence
    • experiments
    • conduct
    • create


    Students know:
    • Sound can cause matter to vibrate.
    • Vibrating matter can cause sound.


    Students are able to:
    • Conduct investigations to provide evidence that sound makes matter vibrate and vibrating matter makes sound.
    • Make observations that can be used as evidence about sound.


    Students understand that:
    • Sound can cause matter to vibrate.
    • Vibrating matter can cause sound.
    • There is a cause/effect relationship between vibrating materials and sound.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Planning and Carrying out Investigations

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Cause and Effect

    Primary Learning Objectives

    Learning Target:

    I can construct a model that uses sound.


    Before Strategy/Engage:

    1. Begin the lesson by playing the game “Telephone.” Have the class sit in a circle.
      • Ask one student to think of a word or sentence. Direct them to whisper it in the ear of the student sitting next to them.
      • Each student should say to the next student what they think they heard. The last student says the word or sentence out loud.
      • Ask the first student if that was their word or sentence. Did anything change? Did the message get lost or changed in translation?
      • Explain to the students this is an example of verbal communication and a way to transfer sound.

    During Strategy/Explore-Explain-Part 1:

    1. Explain to the students the importance of hearing sound. The teacher should use the following link to teach the importance of sound and hearing:
    2. After the students have watched the video, play the video a second time: This time, the teacher will have the choice of stopping the video to ask the students questions concerning sound and hearing. The questions are embedded into the video.

    During Strategy/Explore-Explain-Part 2:

    1. Review or explain safety rules for conducting science experiments, including wearing goggles.
    2. Divide the students into pairs and assign them a tool kit. Once the students receive a toolkit, carefully explain to them the directions for making a sound device. You could provide a written copy of the procedures for the students and place the copy inside of the toolkits.
      • Cut a long piece of string. You can experiment with different lengths, but 20 meters (66 feet) is a good place to start.
      • Poke a small hole in the bottom of each cup.
      • Thread the string through each cup and tie a knot at each end to stop it from pulling through the cup (alternatively you can use a paper clip, washer or similar small object to hold the string in place).
      • Move into position with you and a friend holding the cups at a distance that makes the string tight (making sure the string isn't touching anything else).
      • One person talks into the cup while the other puts the cup to his/her ear and listens. Can you hear each other?
        • Tell the students to  keep their voice at the same level,  while remaining the same distance apart, try talking to each other without using the cups. Can you hear as well?
        • Encourage the students to spread out in the classroom and see how far apart you can get the cup-and-string telephone to work.
        • Allow the students to choose a third person and ask them to hold onto the center of the string with their hand. Ask the students, Will the sound still carry through? Why or why not? 

    Optional: The teacher may write the questions on sentence strips, chart paper, dry-erase board, chalkboard, or the smartboard.

    After Strategy/Explain-Elaborate:

    1. Encourage the students to use the words vibrate and sound waves to explain what is happening with their projects.
    2. After the students have created and tested their telephones, allow the students the opportunity to share their string telephone observations and results with the class.

    Assessment Strategies

    1. The teacher will use a rubric to assess the student's telephone projects. (See attachment)


    Provide extra materials for the students such as yarn, nylon string, clothesline wire, etc. Ask the students to reconstruct their telephones using different materials. Ask the students:

    • How do different materials change the quality of sound or how far the sound travels?


    The teacher will provide assistance with helping those students needing remediation by doing the following:

    • Circulating throughout the classroom as the students complete their telephones.
    • Providing the students with feedback as they work with a partner to test their telephones.

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    31 to 60 Minutes

    Background and Preparation


    The teacher should know that speaking into a cup will create sound waves, which are converted into vibrations at the bottom of the cup. The vibrations travel along the string and are converted back into sound waves at the other end so your friend can hear what you said. Sound travels through the air, but it travels even better through solids such as your cup and string, allowing you to hear sounds that might be too far away when traveling through the air.

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    Tool Kit (1 kit per each group of two students):

    • 2 paper cups
    • a sharp pencil or sewing needle to help poke holes
    • string (kite string and fishing line work well) -- about 15 feet
    • paper clips

    chart paper, sentence strips

    Technology Resources Needed

    Smartboard, computer