Playing with our Colored Salt Shaker

A few weeks ago the children created paintings using ice-cream salt and watercolors. We collected the extra salt from their paintings, dried it and put it inside our clear fascinator boxes to create a new exploration. Once the children got their hands on the boxes, they immediately picked up on the percussive possibilities.

The children all shook the boxes around joyfully and banged them on the table. One child especially enjoyed shaking the box up and down with both hands while “singing” loudly. He shows exceptional interest in music and is always making a rhythm, dancing or being musical in class.

This experience primarily engaged the students’ sense of hearing. The children get in touch with their musical side, gathering an understanding of rhythm and volume. They learned about cause and effect, discovering that the harder and faster they shook their box, the louder and quicker the sound. This drew a connection between physical force, speed and the creation of rhythm.

You will notice in the videos that the children respond and react differently to the sounds of their peers shaking their boxes. Two of the children spent some time trading off, with on child shaking his box first, and another responding by shaking her box. The idea that communication can exist through music is shown through these interactions.

Ultimately, music and rhythm are important forms of emotional expression. The physical technique and force used when shaking the boxes can serve as an emotional and creative outlet. Shaking the boxes more rapidly and forcefully can exert more extreme emotions like excitement, joy or anger; where as shaking the boxes softly might provide a more soothing experience.

Playing with rhythm and sound is not only a fun experience, but also a great way to connect with oneself, interact with others and express emotion and creativity.

Exploring Music

During our most recent Music Think Tank with Mr. T, a piano was reintroduced to the children. The children have a strong understanding of patterns using colors and sounds. To take our exploration one step further, the children were asked to create a pattern using paper and markers.

Over the last few months, the children have developed the skills to create sequences quickly and easily. The children’s marks have gradually improved with each pattern, becoming neater and more precise. Each key on the piano was labeled with a small piece of colored paper and once the children finished their sequences, they were asked to perform them on the instrument.

Before the children can play any key to create a sound, they must be able to identify, recognize and match the various colors. This sound-sight exploration has taught the children to do all of the above. Color recognition and name identification are both stepping-stones in childhood development. Early identification of colors helps to create the cognitive link between visual clues and words, engaging the child’s senses while enhancing their vocabulary skills.

Through this activity, the children learned that patterns are everywhere. They exist in colors, in sounds and even in behaviors such as daily routines. Understanding the importance of patterns, and how to identify and interpret them, is an important foundational skill for more complex mathematical, scientific and communicative tasks that the children will come across as their education progresses.

Sound Exploration

The following collections of photos illustrate all of the different materials we recently used to investigate sound. Our curriculum is heavily based on the “hundred languages” of children, or the ways in which children can express their perception of the world around them. Music is one of those languages. We also focus on experiences that excite students’ senses (sound in this case).

Using water bottle ‘shakers’ filled with different materials, we were able to talk about “loud vs. quiet,” or sound level and dynamics. The introduction of musical instruments allowed students to hear thumping drum sounds, the tinkling noise of the chimes and the knocking sounds from the wooden sticks. The children particularly loved the plastic colored sticks, banging them together and using them to strike different materials inside and outside of the classroom.

Hands on explorations of music and sound are extremely valuable because they provide students with an emotional outlet and tools for self-expression. Along with studying sounds, this experience also allowed the children to apply mathematical skills like addition (counting each time they hit the colored sticks together). It also allowed them to take note of the interesting exteriors of the instruments (discussing the different colors of the sticks).