Do you hear what I hear

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Biology In Elementary Schools is a Saint Michael's College student project from a course that ran between 2007 and 2010 and fully described in this book chapter. The student-created resources have been preserved here for posterity. Link under 'toolbox' for printer-friendly versions of the exercises. Click on handouts to print full resolution versions. Please see Wikieducator's disclaimer, our safety statement, and the Creative Commons licensing in English and in legalese.

Student worthiness

Do you hear what I hear, to us, is a new and untested idea. We received the idea from a website in which it was said to be completed successfully. We took the information we received and added our own ideas to make the project our own. 

This project was very successful. Although we did have some problems recording all the students’ answers, the students seemed to have fun and to enjoy picking the item that they were shaking or trying to figure out which item was which.

Primary biological content area covered

  • Working on the five senses but specifically hearing.
  • We use our senses to live in the world. We can hear when things are loud, dangerous, or quiet. We know what something smells like that reminds us of home or school or what we know smells good. We can touch items and know what to touch and not to touch. Our five senses are helpful in everyday life and it is important for students to understand that they can use each one on their own.


  • 4 Glass Jars
  • 2 Plastic bags
  • 1 Small Box
  • 6 Blindfolds
  • Poster Board Size Graph Paper
  • Markers
  • Type of Material for Noise
    • Rice
    • Beans
    • Beads
    • Styrofoam Balls
    • Keys
    • Crayons
    • Buttons
    • Popcorn Kernels


Figure 1: Anatomy of Ear

If there are simple written instructions that students would use during this activity they should be placed here and they can be cut and pasted into a word processing document for printing. There are mechanisms within this web format to upload pictures, tables, and more complex documents with diagrams. Common MS Office documents cannot be uploaded without first making modifications. Please link to tips on preparing handouts for upload.

Description of activity

Our activity for this group of students is called "Do You Hear What I Hear." We will split up the group into two and blindfold one group. The group of children that will be blindfolded will be shown the items before they are blindfolded so they will know what items they are listening for. Out of the seven items we have chosen, we will pick three and have them specifically listen for those three sounds only. In order to receive any type of results from the experiment, we will have the children motion item one, two, and three and record their results. By having them motion their answers there will be little to no confusion and students won't change their answers based on what their classmates say. The group that is not blindfolded will be the ones using the jars, box, and bags to make noise and test the students who are blindfolded. We will be testing their hearing to see if they can identify the sound without seeing the item. We will then chart the children's answers so that we can show to them the similarities and differences between the other students. Once one group is done, we will trade positions and do the same process.

Lesson plan

We will begin the lesson by doing an activity, and then following with explanations and information about hearing and the body. The students will be divided into two groups of four or five. The first group will all be blindfolded. Once blindfolded the other students will sit across from them and make different noises. The noises will include things such as shaking a jar of marbles, shaking a box of beads, shaking a bag of beans, dropping keys etc. The students that are blindfolded will have to see if they can determine what each noise is. This is a test to see if they can compensate for their loss of sight by using another sense, hearing. Once the experiment is done and the answers are recorded the students can take off their blindfolds. The other group will then be blindfolded and the others will take the place of the noise making. These noises will be different or in a different order so the students can't detect them by memory. After the activity we will look at the results and show the students how well they did by making a large graph. We will talk about hearing and the senses as well as compare humans to how well other animals can hear.

Potential pitfalls

On our trial run, the biggest pitfall we encountered was that our students were unable to remember all of the items they were listening for once they were blindfolded. When we actually did the experiment in the classroom we experienced some pitfalls the first few times but it got easier as we did the experiment a couple times. One pitfall was that it was hard to get down a system for recording the student's answers for the graph. Another pitfall was that some of the children had trouble remembering which jar was which when it came to choosing one, two, or three.

Math connections

The activity relates to grade-appropriate math skills because we will be using a graph to display the information. The students will have to read and interpret the graph.

Literature connections

One book that we are using throughout this experiment is called The Listening Walk." It is a book about a little girl who goes on a walk with her father and is able to listen to all of the different sounds that she hears on the way. When doing this experiment, it is pretty common to be focused on the body itself so to have a book on the body would be helpful. When doing this project, learning about the five senses would be logical because the students will understand what the different senses are and how they are similar and different. This book is especially creative and helpful when learning about this subject because it is clear that the main character of the book is using her hearing sense to listen to all of the sounds that are around her.

The Listening Walk Written by Paul Showers, Illustrated by Aliki Brandenberg (text copyright 1961) Published by Harper Collins New Edition

Connections to educational standards

According to the state of Vermont department of education, science 1-2 grade expectations: Students demonstrate their understanding of human body systems by identifying the senses needed to meet survival needs. The science concepts are that people use their senses to find out about their surroundings and meet their needs. The body parts that help people satisfy their need for food are that the eyes and nose find food, the legs and hands get food, and the mouth eats food. Senses help people satisfy their need to avoid danger. The nose can smell fire and the ears can hear danger. -DOK 2 LS4 (K-4) POC-8 SI-2.41

Next steps

Using the same materials, you could go on and test some of the other senses such as touch. Still using the blindfolds, have the students touch the materials instead of listening to them and see if you receive similar results.


Do you hear what I hear I think went relatively well. The students seemed to be really interested in the experiment and were having fun. We did run into some problems while we were doing the experiment, which included finding the easiest way to record their answers and then get it onto the graph. This became a large problem throughout the entire experiment as two of us were helping the students and one was writing down the answers. We were not able originally to figure out which answers belonged with which jar, but as we went through each group we were able to better solve the problem that occurred. The kids were also pretty riled up so they were making a lot of noise with the jars even when it was not their turn. In general though, we seemed to keep the kids attention and they seemed to have fun. I really enjoyed working with the students and even though it was kind of stressful working with science experiments, I enjoyed learning how to teach another subject. - Katie

As we explained our experiment, Do you hear what I hear to the second grade students, they were all attentive and excited to try it out. The process itself of testing the students who were blindfolded, and having those not blindfolded help us with making the noise for their classmates, we did not run into any problems. The biggest challenge that we encountered was writing down the student’s results and charting them. We also found that the students ran through our experiment much more quickly than expected and although we had a book to read to them, that didn't seem to interest them as much as the experiment itself. We now understand that we have time to complete an experiment that has more steps and may take up more time, which will hopefully, in the end, keep the students interest for a longer period of time. Overall this was a great experiment, the students were very fun to work with and the classroom experience was excellent. -Erin

I think that considering this was our first experience teaching a science experiment together, it went very well. As we went through the groups, we got better and better at explaining the experiment and being more efficient. The kids really got into the experiment and seemed to enjoy it. I have found that the more hands on the experiment, the more interested the students become. For example it made it more fun for the students that they were able to pick their own jar to shake as opposed to us just handing them a jar. The experiment was effective because when a student got an answer wrong, they were able to see how much they depend on each of their senses to identify things. When a student got an answer correct, they were able to see that sometimes one sense can strengthen and make up for the lack of other senses. The one thing that we had trouble with was finding an efficient way to record the data. The graphs got a little messy because we had to record data on the spot. The reading of the book went well because of the way we involved the students. Instead of just reading the book, we stopped so the students could make the noises that we were reading about. The more you involve the students and their ideas, the better. One boy got very exceited about our experiment and showed us his book with information about the body and the senses. It was refreshing to see young children be so excited to learn and experiment. This was a very good learning opportunity and I feel that the next experiment can go even better with this experience. -Molly

Citations and links

  • The Listening Walk

Written by Paul Showers, Illustrated by Aliki Brandenberg (text copyright 1961) Published by Harper Collins New Edition