What Makes Sound?

betterlessons.com Kathryn Yablonski
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This is Lesson #3 in a unit of nine lessons about sound. Students will learn about how we hear sounds.  They will also plan and conduct investigations of sound to prove that sounds have vibrations and vibrations make sounds.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

1-PS4-1 Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.

Clarification Statement: Examples of vibrating materials that make sound could include tuning forks and plucking a stretched string. Examples of how sound can make matter vibrate could include holding a piece of paper near a speaker making sound and holding an object near a vibrating tuning fork.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
To meet all of this Performance Expectation, students must do the complete lesson including conducting an investigation with materials at one station and then planning how they will determine if other items that vibrate cause sounds by visiting all stations.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will need some teacher guidance when planning the investigation with the other sound stations.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
After students have investigated all of the sound stations, have them brainstorm the names of musical instruments that resemble the ones that they have explored while noting the place on the instrument where the sound comes from. They should also be challenged to explain how it makes its sound (music).

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Provide students with plenty of time to explore all of the stations to gather evidence. Place the materials in tubs at a science center for students to explore the Crosscutting Concept throughout the semester.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This is a complete lesson that integrates elements of the science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas so students are making sense of phenomena.

  • Instructional Supports: The lesson provides opportunities for students to connect their explanation of a phenomenon (sound) to questions from their own experience. The lesson clearly explains how the prior learning about sound in previous lessons will be built upon. Graphic organizers and pictures are used in the student journal and KLEWS chart to help students who may need that assistance. The lesson offers video segments so that the teacher has a fuller understanding of the lesson and student responses.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The teacher listens to groups while they participate in a Turn and Talk and then gathers additional information while students are adding to the KLEWS chart as formative assessment. Students are also using recording sheets and science journals.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: No technology is needed for this lesson.