Problem Solvers

What’s that sound?

Activity overview

30 mins+
Ages 7 – 9

Science topics:


You will need:

This video, voices, items from around the classroom 

Get your class thinking about how different sounds are produced and how to recreate them. Sometimes, sound can surprise you.

Run the activity in 5 steps


This hands-on activity will put pupils' knowledge to the test and improve their ability to work together.

Sometimes you have to solve a problem on the spot. Explain that today the class are going to watch a video in two parts. The first part has no sound. As you pause the video tell the class that they, in their groups, will need to think about the sounds they expect to hear and then recreate them using just what’s in the classroom. Discuss what pupils think they might learn from doing this.


Explain that they will have 20 minutes to find some objects or materials around the classroom that will help them recreate the sounds they think are in the video. It could be as simple as just using their voices and bodies!


After 20 minutes, it's peer review time. Discuss each group's sounds as a class. Encourage pupils to provide kind, specific and helpful feedback on how each other's ideas might be refined.


Allow five more minutes and give everyone a chance to act on their feedback by refining their ideas.


When time is up, perform the sounds once more. Discuss the sounds they’ve made and how their ideas have changed as a result of the feedback. Now it’s time to play the second part of the video! How close did the class get to the actual sounds being made?

Background science

When you click play on this video you’ll see (but not hear) three things that create very interesting sounds, but can your class recreate them?  You’ll be prompted to pause the video after 3 clips.

The three sound-making things are a lion, a jackhammer and a locust.

A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles away but if you’re closer to the lion it’ll sound extremely loud. Lions have vocal chords like we do but theirs are shaped a little differently, which allows them to emit a low, loud growl. The roar is designed to frighten those that wonder into the lion’s territory and let other animals know whose boss. When you play the video with sound you’ll hear the call of a bird, which seems to be annoying this lion!
The jackhammer uses compressed air as its power source to repeatedly drive the chisel up and down to break up extremely hard surfaces, such as rock and concrete. The sound of the hammer striking the surface is extremely loud and the operators of such tools need to wear ear protection to muffle the sound, otherwise it could damage their hearing.
If you watch very closely you can see how the locust makes its sound. It rubs its back legs against its wings, which vibrates to make that interesting sound. It’s almost like playing a violin; pulling the bow over the strings to create a sound.  

Take it further

If you enjoyed this you could have a look at some other animal activities and see if the class can recreate those sounds too.  Get musical with our Bottle orchestra or Rice and rhythm What's Going On activities. Alternatively, get your class to think about the best materials to make ear protection with this Problem Solver

Video credits: Natural History Media: Getty Images: Getty Images 
Image credit: National History Media