Do You Hear What I Hear?

Children will learn about hearing and sounds.

Lesson Objective

The children will explore their sense of hearing and understand how hearing helps us learn about our world.


What You'll Need

  • Small containers with lids (such as film canisters, empty pill containers, plastic Easter eggs) – 1 per child
  • For each of the following materials, fill two containers half full:
    • Beans
    • Rice
    • Pennies
    • Marbles
    • Dried peas
    • Jingle bells
    • Sand
    • Birdseed
    • Dry pasta
  • Shoe box
  • Tacky glue or glue gun (adult use)
  • A few familiar items from around the classroom like a crayon, toy car, small wooden block, bell, ball, tambourine

What To Do

Note: This lesson requires advance preparation.
Prior to the day of the lesson: For each of the materials (beans, rice, etc.), fill two containers half way. Do not overfill the containers or they will not make much noise. Identify the containers that have the same materials with a symbol or sticker. Glue the lids shut with tacky glue or a hot glue gun and let them dry overnight.

  1. Without the children watching, place one of the classroom items into the empty shoe box and shake the box.
  2. Ask the children to guess what it was they heard (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  3. Try the activity with a few more objects you collected from the classroom.
  4. Distribute the sets of the prefilled containers to the children, one container to each child.
  5. Tell the children to keep the containers closed and give them time to explore the containers.
  6. Have one child shake his or her container and challenge the other children to find the container that sounds the same.
  7. Assist the children by going around the room while the children shake their containers, one at a time, listening for the container whose sound is an exact match.
  8. Continue until all of the matches have been found.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Explain how you know what is in the box if you cannot see it.
  • Tell me what part of your body you use to hear something.
  • Describe the sound that is coming from the container.
  • Tell me how you can change the sound you made with your container.
  • Describe the differences in sounds the different containers are making.
  • Explain how hearing can help you learn about the world.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Place the sets of containers in the science center for children to explore and experiment with further.
  • Put some of each of the materials (rice, beans, sand, etc.) in sealed plastic bags and reinforce the closure with a layer of heavy duty tape such as duct tape. Place the bags in the discovery area along with the containers. Encourage the children to try to match the sounds they hear in each container with the items in the bags.
  • Place a tape recorder in the music or discovery center for experimentation.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children explain the different sounds?
  • Could children explain how they used their sense of hearing to explore and learn about the different sounds?
  • Could children explain how their hearing can help them learn about the world?


Did You Know

The sense of hearing is one of our five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. Our ears help us hear sounds and take in information about our world and what is going on around us. Our brains use the sounds from both of our ears to determine the direction and distance of sounds. The sounds we hear help us decide whether to enjoy an experience.

The ear consists of three main parts: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The outer ear collects sounds and delivers the sound waves to the middle ear through the ear drum, which divides the outer ear and the middle ear. The ear drum collects the sound waves, coverts them to vibrations, and sends them to the middle ear.

The middle ear contains the ossicles, three tiny and fragile bones. The bones are known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup and they are the smallest bones in the body. The eardrum causes the three little bones to vibrate and they carry the vibrations to the inner ear.

The inner ear contains a curled tube filled with liquid. The vibrations from the ossicles cause the liquid to move. The movement of the liquid causes tiny hairs on the tube to move, sending nerve signals to the brain. The brain interprets this information for us as sounds and language.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • ears – the two organs of the body used for hearing.
  • hear – to receive sound with the ears.
  • sound – anything that people or animals hear with their ears.
  • vibrate – to move back and forth very rapidly and steadily.
  • loud – having a large amount of sound.
  • noise – sound; a large, harsh, or unpleasant sound.

Lesson Tips

  • Some children are sensitive to particular sounds (such as loud or high-pitched sounds). Encourage their participation by allowing them to choose which of the containers they are most comfortable with.
  • Some children may not be able to detect or recognize matching sounds. Encourage their participation by assisting them as necessary.


  • The Ear Book by Al Perkins
  • You Can’t Smell a Flower with Your Ear by Joanna Cole
  • Mickey McGuffin’s Ear by John Hall
  • Sounds All Around by Wendy Pfeffer
  • What Is Sound? by Charlotte Guillain
  • Making Sounds by Charlotte Guillain

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS