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Learning through the senses: Sound and noise-based activities

A toddler discriminates between sounds in an activity that classifies bell noises
A toddler discriminates between sounds in an activity that classifies bell noises
Jillian Shafer

For many of us, our toddlers are the noisiest things in our lives, from shrieking tantrums to deep belly laughs to sweet whispered words like, "I love you!"  Using the sense of sound can be one of the easiest, and most entertaining ways, to create a multi-sensory environment for our little learners.

Many toddlers take great pride in showing adults where their ears are, and some can even tell you what job our ears do for us.  As your child gets older, help him hone his sense of hearing and listening by engaging in activities that promote critical thinking, all while strengthening the ever-forming pathways in his brain.

One fun way to get your preschooler thinking, and talking, about sounds is to immerse them in a listening type of environment.  Headed to the zoo?  Ask him what sounds he might here there.  Will the lions be loud?  How will the monkeys sound when they're all making noise?  Do you think the snakes will make any sounds that you can hear?

Try integrating musical instruments into your playtime.  Many companies sell toy instruments, but making your own can be just as much fun.  Sandwich two paper plates together, pouring beans in the middle.  Seal it shut with packing tape and you now have a drum and noise maker.  Grab one of those plastic accordian straws that often come in take-out cups.  Have your tot blow and describe the loud, whistle sound he can make.  Turn your pots upside down, hand over a wooden spoon and listen to your little rocker go!

Ready for an activity you can make?  Grab some silver bells and a butter knife.  On half of the bells, remove the jingle by gently prying the bell open with the butter knife.  Place the bells in a jar and give your tot two bowls, which he will use to sort the bells that have sound, versus the bells that do not have sound.  Show your little one how to listen carefully, deciding whether he heard sound or not.

Try surrounding your child with varied sounds.  Play fast-paced upbeat music for playtime and slow and soothing classical tunes for cool-down times and rest.  

For fun lesson plans, coloring pages and games about using the sense of touch, visit Making Learning Fun.

Visit the Lakeshore Learning store, either in Carson or online, for a wide array of fabulous CDs and musical toys.


  • Jen L. 5 years ago

    Love the great ideas in this article--especially how to make your own musical instruments and jingle bell sorting idea.!

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