The Five Senses: Hearing

The focus for our fifth and final sense in our Five Senses session was “hearing”. I love bridging sensory, science and art so we opened up the class by making string telephones decorated with handmade stickers. Each student was given a strip of mailing labels and an assortment of colored markers to make their stickers. Many drew continuously across all 10 labels while some carefully colored each label separately.


When ready, each student peeled and placed their labels being careful not to touch the line.

Some handy tips I found are:

1. The harder the cup or can the better the sound will resonate. Since I don’t go through enough canned food I purchased a bag of sturdy plastic cups in bulk. You can use paper cups in pinch, but you don’t want to use insulated cups because they will absorb sound waves.

2. Fishing line is a superior conduit for sound than string. I found a large spool of 40lb. fishing line at our local outdoor supplier which fit perfectly through a hole made by a tack.


Watching my students use these telephones was a total riot. They totally work and it’s such a fun way to play with sound. In addition to sending secret messages through the line we pulled on the string to make fun guitar like vibrating sounds.


In order for the telephone to work the string or line must be pulled taught. If there is any bit of slack in the line the sound will not travel. In order to keep the line tight I had students sit in a chair and asked the parents to step back until they felt the tension. Children have the urge to step forward as soon as they feel you pulling on the other end or forget to stand still as soon as they hear sound come through the cup because it’s so exciting!


The second project focused on the feeling of sound and how that translated into art, specifically drawing. I put together a sound track of four different songs from different genres to play for the students. I played each song for about 1.5 minutes and asked the students to draw how the music made them feel or how the sound looked, or what the song made them think of. I tried to make it clear that there was no right or wrong way to play this game, the one rule was to wait to draw until I started the music and to do their best to stay on the paper.


The playlist consisted of:

  1. Flight of the Bumblebee, by London Philharmonic Orchestra (classical)
  2. Sidewinder, by Lee Morgon (jazz)
  3. Samba Batucada, Artist Unknown (Brazilian percussion)
  4. I Got You (I Feel Good), James Brown (funk)


Each student drew on blank note cards with a black felt tip pen. In between each song we pasted our drawings on a background and labeled each one with pre-printed labels.


This project was a definite psychology experiment. It was fascinating how each song truly inspired something a little different from the next even if the child’s image vocabulary, drawing style, or content interest was already developed or defined.

Below are examples from different aged students ranging from 7 years – 2 years old.




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