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Silence is golden

Children with eyes closed listening for sounds

Or is it?

Did you know that a baby’s cry can be up to 120 decibels?

That’s as loud as a siren and is considered above the pain threshold. In other words, early childhood educators are incredibly resilient people with a surprisingly high tolerance for noise. Having said that, how would you feel about a few minutes of complete silence in your toddler or kinder room? If this sounds like heaven, this activity from our Acoustics workshop might be just right for you!

Find a cosy place to sit with the children and ask everyone to close their eyes. What can they hear? You will be surprised how many sounds the children notice when everybody is quiet. For many children, this might be the first time they consciously absorb the sounds around them and they might wonder, ‘Why have I never heard this sound before?’, ‘Can I ignore a sound if I decide to?’

Such questions can be the starting point for further investigation of silence and sound. For instance, have the children ever tried to concentrate in a noisy environment? What effect does noise have on our ability to focus? We can test this by inviting the children to a memory challenge. The children must listen carefully and memorise a number of items on a list you will read to them (this could be types of toys or fruit for example). Before you start, ask some of the children to produce interfering noise while you read. Can the other children still hear the words you are reading out loud? How many items on the list can they remember? For the second round, ask everyone to be silent before you start reading another list. Afterwards, the children can compare the number of items they could remember when it was noisy to when there was quiet.

Investigating silence can be truly fascinating, particularly for city children. Investigating acoustics also provides many opportunities to be very loud! After exploring silence, the children might like to test how much noise they could possibly make together. Perhaps this is the right time to bring ear plugs to work?

What acoustics projects and activities has your service engaged in?
Let us know in the comments below

Avatar: Woman with brown eyes and brown hair up in bun
Article author: Heike Hendershot
National Training Manager

With an extensive background in education and a fearless passion for collaborative learning environments, Heike manages the development and implementation of workshop content and supports the team of training facilitators at Little Scientists.

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