Children delight in making noise. When the noise level of random sound becomes unbearable, indulge your children in some activities that offer a productive use of children’s natural desire to fill the void.
Choose one person to be the conductor and ask the other participants to choose an imaginary instrument to play. When the conductor lifts their arms, each person makes the sound of their instrument and moves their body as if playing their instrument. Everyone must stop when the conductor lowers their arms. The conductor then creates a symphony by pointing to different instruments at different times. They may conduct an agreed upon tune or make one up as they go along.
Below are two examples of these stories. Any topic can be picked if you choose to write your own. Just pick a theme, brainstorm at least ten examples of noise in that environment, then weave these sounds into a story. As you read the story, pause at the words in bold to allow your children to make the necessary sound effect. Without exception, I have found all kids love this activity. Particularly clever kids can be encouraged to write their own.
Ask one child to pantomime everyday activities such as getting up in the morning and getting dressed. Have the other children provide the sound effects to accompany the scene.
Another circle game in which a person makes a sound that is then echoed by the whole group. The next person then makes a new sound which the group echoes. This continues around the circle.
pass the sound
Players sit in a circle. One person begins by making a vocal sound, for example “whoop whoop”. The next person then copies that sound and adds another of their own, for example “whoop whoop pilly polly”. This continues around the circle. Alternatively, players can toss their sound to someone at random in the circle who catches it by copying the sound and then tosses a new sound to a different player.
Read aloud a story and show the pictures to the group. As you read, ask the children to imagine all the sounds they might hear in that picture. Encourage them to look very thoroughly at the picture.
For instance, a picture at a zoo will have more than the main animal making a sound, it may have the chatter of children, the wind in the trees, birds chirping, the footsteps of people walking, an ice cream being licked etc. Re-read the story and have the children to provide a soundtrack for the story as you read the book.
Ask the children to get into pairs. Give them a topic such as “My day at the beach”. Explain that one child is from another country and speaks a different language. This child makes a ‘story’ using gibberish/made-up sounds and associated actions. The other child must ‘translate’ this story to the rest of the group using their own imagination and the first child’s actions as cues.
dialogue dubbing game
Find a scene in a movie in which two people are engaged in dialogue and then mute the volume. This activity works particularly well with old movies, but any movie can be used. Dramatic scenes provide the most fun. Have the children take on a character’s role and provide the words they think could match the scene.
Ask the children to try and imagine sounds as pictures. For instance, a spiral may symbolise a sound such as “weee,” a series of little dots may suggest “putt, putt, putt”. Play them a variety of sounds from around the house, for example, a blender, vacuum etc, and get them to draw what they think the sound would look like. Or alternatively, draw them a variety of shapes and ask them to suggest what sounds they would associate with it.
The wild wild west
The cowboy awoke with a yawn to the sound of a rooster crowing. A cow mooed in the distance. The cowboy got up and walked across the creaking floorboards and poured himself a coffee. Outside, a horse neighed. A train whistle sounded, and then could be heard approaching. Suddenly, a woman’s scream rang out. The cowboy ran out the door and jumped on his horse. He galloped towards the train tracks, where the woman was tied. He quickly cut the ropes that bound her with his sharp knife. Gunshots rang out and a horse reared up. The cowboy looked up and saw another cowboy being chased by Indians shooting arrows. He got shot by an arrow and fell from his horse. He lay on the ground wailing. Blood spurted from his wound. The Indians advanced with war cries so the cowboy galloped off on his horse towards the nearest town. This caused a dog to bark as he rode in. Dismounting his horse, he feed his horse a carrot. The wind began to howl and tumbleweed blew through the town. It began to rain, developing quickly into a thunderstorm. A banjo could be heard playing in a saloon. Entering the saloon the cowboy knocked over a table. A family stood around a dead man crying while a church bell sounded.
Candy land catastrophe
The stillness of the morning was interrupted by a deafening explosion from the candy factory. Within the factory, an alarm sounded as flames whooshed from pulsing electrical cords and gas hissed from pipes. A machine grinded in the corner, as another began raining candy like bullets from a machine gun. The factory workers screamed and squeaky doors were thrust open as the workers stampeded from the building. A school bus screeched to a halt outside the factory. Excited children poured out and cheered as they ran into the factory. They began unwrapping cellophane wrapped lollies and gobbling them down. Some began slurping hot bubbling chocolate sauce from the chocolate fountain. The lollipop machine began furiously popping, and sugar mixture dripped from the ground as toffee melted in the sizzling sun. Candy scuttled to the ground like popcorn. Trucks roared in and oompa loompas turned up singing, ready to clean up the mess.
Paula Galey (M Ed Psych (hons) Hdip Tchg) is a teacher who specialised in working with students with learning and behaviour difficulties. She currently writes educational resources while raising her three children.