Search form

Lesson Plan: Snap, Crackle, Pop: Fun Experiments with Sound Waves

Grades: 4th - 6th

Duration: 2 class periods

Objective: By the end of this lesson, students will be able to understand the basics of sound waves, how they work, and engage in hands-on experiments to witness sound in action. 


  • A tuning fork

  • A glass of water

  • A rubber band

  • A plastic ruler

  • A small bell

  • A balloon

  • A whiteboard with markers

  • Paper and pen for each student

Introduction (10 minutes)

Say: Alright, class, have you ever wondered how your favorite songs travel from your earphones to your ears? Or how you can hear someone whisper across the room? It's all thanks to something called sound waves. Sound is like magic because it's invisible but powerful. Today, we're going to unravel this magic.

Main Activity 1: Seeing Sound Waves (15 minutes)

Say: First up, let's see what sound waves look like.

Tuning Fork Experiment

Ask: Strike the tuning fork against a hard surface. What do you hear?

Say: Gently touch the base of the vibrating tuning fork to the water's surface in your glass.

Ask: What happens to the water when the tuning fork touches it?

Do: Draw the ripples and waves on the board to illustrate how sound travels through the air, just like the waves in the water.

Say: The waves in the water are like the sound waves that travel through the air. They spread out and reach our ears, allowing us to hear sounds.

Main Activity 2: Sound Can Be Seen (15 minutes)

Say: Next up, we'll play around with some sound and visual effects.

Rubber Band Symphony

Say: Stretch a rubber band between your hands. Pluck the rubber band and watch what happens.

Ask: Can you see the waves in the rubber band? How does it feel when you pluck it gently versus hard?

Discuss: Talk about how this is like playing a guitar or other musical instruments.

Say: This rubber band is like a tiny guitar string. When we pluck it, it creates waves in the air, which we hear as sound.

Main Activity 3: Testing Sound's Path (20 minutes)

Say: Now, let's experiment with how sound travels through different materials.

Sound Through Solids

Ask: Take your plastic ruler and tap it on the table. What do you hear?

Say: Now, place one end of the ruler on your desk and press your ear to the other end. Tap it again.

Ask: Do you hear the sound better this way?

Discuss: Talk about how sound travels through solids, like the ruler, faster and clearer than through the air.

Say: Think of sound as a runner and the ruler as a race track. Sound waves move faster on the solid track, which makes it easier to hear.

Main Activity 4: Bell's Ringing Secrets (20 minutes)

Say: Let's reveal the science behind the sound of a ringing bell.

Bells and Vibration

Ask: Gently tap a small bell. What sound does it produce?

Ask: Now, hold the bell against your throat and tap it again. What happens this time?

Say: Explain that the vibration of the bell against your throat helps create sound.

Discuss: Talk about how vocal cords in your throat work similarly, producing the sounds you make when you talk or sing.

Say: The bell showed us that vibrations are essential for creating sound, just like a violin string vibrating to make music.

Main Activity 5: Exploring Pitch with Balloons (15 minutes)

Say: Let's dive into pitch, where sounds can be high or low.

Balloon Pitch Experiment

Say: Blow up a balloon, but don't tie it. Pinch the balloon's neck and release it slowly to let out a bit of air.

Ask: What kind of sound does it make?

Say: Now, release the air quickly. What's different about the sound this time?

Discuss: Talk together about how the speed of air escaping changes the pitch of the sound.

Say: By changing how fast the air escapes, you control the pitch, just like a musician playing notes on a piano.

Lesson Conclusion (10 minutes)

Say: We've discovered how sound waves work, how they travel, and even how to change their pitch. The world of sound is all around us, and now, you can listen with a trained ear!


Say: For homework, I want you to take a moment to listen to the sounds around you. Write down at least five different sounds you hear during the day. Next class, we'll share our sound stories.


Do: You can assess students on their participation during the experiments and their understanding of the basic concepts of sound waves.


Written by Brooke Lektorich

Education World Contributor

Copyright© 2023 Education World