Lately, my toddler has been driving me crazy asking “What’s that noise?” over and over. Because she is so keyed in to every little noise from the refrigerator to a truck driving by our house, we devoted a whole week to exploring and learning about the sense of sound. Check out these 6 low-prep toddler activities we came up with to learn about sound.
Sound Matching Game
Our Sound Matching Game was my toddler’s favorite game this week. Not only did I have to make the game more difficult for her, but she played it over and over. She listened very intently and got really good at it!
To set up a sound matching game, I hid small objects in Easter Eggs, but you can use any container as long as kids can’t see through it. We started with six eggs, but immediately moved up to twelve when she breezed through matching the first set.
Finding noisy items to put in the eggs was difficult. I avoided food and toys because she gets sidetracked and just wants to eat or play with the toy. I filled the eggs with coins, beans, foam stickers, beaded necklace, gravel, and rice. Other ideas you could try include paper clips, buttons, or caps from water bottles or squeeze pouches.
Hide-and-Seek Sound Machine
My toddler’s second favorite activity was playing hide-and-seek with her portable sound machine. She counted to 10 in the kitchen while I hid the sound machine in a different room. I tried to hide it out of sight, under blankets, behind pillows, or around furniture. Then, she’d have to follow the sound to find it.
While we used a small, clip-on sound machine, you can use a noisy toy, old iPod, your phone, or whatever else you have in your house that makes noise. I highly recommend this activity because it required very little preparation and really held my kid’s interest throughout the week!
Another favorite toy right now is my little one’s Mikey Mouse Keyboard. My tot loves playing and listening to music, so I really wanted to incorporate her keyboard and music into Sound Week.
For our Sound Week exercise, we explored pitch. First, I explained high and low notes. Then she played the notes and told me whether the pitch was high or low. We also tried to sing and match the note.
I know she liked this one because she explained high and low notes to Dad at dinner that night. It’s alway awesome to see how much little ones pay attention to what you teach them!
Overall, it was really nice to incorporate a short music activity. Other music-related activities we’ve explored include tempo, volume, genres, and instrument sounds.
Sound Science Experiment
This easy experiment marks a great way to incorporate a visual exercise during Sound Week. Plus, it’s super easy and uses supplies you have on hand. All you need is a small bowl of water, plastic wrap, salt, and something loud (like a toddler banging a spoon against a pot).
First, fill the small bowl with water. Then, cover it very tightly with plastic wrap. Pour salt on top. Finally, tell the toddler to bang the pot with a spoon (or make whatever loud noise you decided would be best) and watch the salt move!
Explain that sound travels through vibrations, and louder noises actually cause strong enough vibrations to make the salt move. Reinforce this lesson by having your child experiment with loud and soft sounds to see which move the salt.
My toddler and I frequently visit the library for new books, so during Sound Week, we borrowed a few books about ears and sounds. It’s always great when I can reinforce some of our activities with books because I feel like my tot gains a better understanding.
One noteworthy book was Loud and Quiet: An Animal Opposites Book by Lisa Bullard. Each page spread had two animals. One animal makes a loud noise and the other makes a quiet noise. My toddler loved making the animal noises with me, and it was a really fun family read. This book is definitely worth checking out at your local library!
Ok, so this is more of an activity on listening, but what parent doesn’t want to reinforce their toddler’s listening skills. While my tot didn’t understand not doing something if Simon didn’t say, she was super excited to do everything I told her while playing.
Some of the things I told her to do included jump three times, touch your elbow, point to something blue, roar like a lion, stand like a flamingo… Overall, it was a great way to get her to expend some energy while I relaxed.
And that wraps up our Sound Learning Activities for the week! The matching game, Simon Says and Hide-and-Seek were instant hits, and we’ll definitely play those more in the future. I also really liked the science experiment because it as so easy to set up and my little one thought it was really “neat” to make the salt move with loud noises. Finally, the books and music exercises were a nice way to round out the week with some familiar activities geared toward our overall theme- the sense of sound.