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Using Sound and Music in Active Learning

There are many ways that sound and music can be incorporated into all stages of Active Learning, as simple musical instruments and sound-producing toys or activities are motivating to many learners.  It is best to choose items where the learner can produce or control the sound through his or her own movements, rather than just pushing a button on an electronic toy.  While electronic toys are popular, they do not encourage the same level of engagement as sounds one produces oneself, such as banging, tapping, blowing, turning.

Just about any of the videos you will find on the Active Learning Space site has some element of sound in it, and the videos here are just a few examples.

Sound During the Offering Phase

Different types of items, such as seedpod rattles, small massagers, or various kinds of balls can be presented during the Offering phase, so that learners can experiment with their sound properties.  Positioning the learner and materials on a Resonance Board intensifies the sound and promotes increased exploration and movement.  Notice in the video how in this phase, items are presented, but no demands are made.

Boy sitting on resonance board with staff and many materials
A young boy sits on a Resonance Board with an adult surrounded by many materials. A seedpod rattle is held in front of his chest.

Sound producing items, such as seedpod rattles can be attached to a position board or suspended so that a learner can explore them independently.

Moving from Banging with Open Hand to Using a Tool

In this video, a boy transitions from banging on noise-making surfaces with an open hand, to using a tool to bang on various drums. You will observe that whether or not he uses his hand or the end of a drum stick to contact the surfaces, often depends on the length of the stick, and where the stick is positioned in his hand, as he is still refining this skill.

Boy lying on a big gathering drum
A boy leans on a large drum while an adult holds a drum stick in front of him.

Movement and Exploration

Specialized musical instruments, such as the Gathering Drum, can encourage movement and exploration.  In the video below, we see a 5-year-old girl seated on two big drums, which helps to promote independent sitting, as well as active exploration and other skills.

Young girl sitting on Gathering Drum
                          A young girl sits on top of two Gathering Drums.

Fine Motor Development through Music

In this video we see that the boy demonstrates difficulty rotating his wrist in order to activate the rain stick. In the second part of the video, notice how he compares the sound of dropping the beads in the steel drum versus the ping pong balls, and eventually puts the beads down to engage both hands in dropping ping pong balls in the steel drum.
A young boy sits on the floor with a steel drum and a rain stick
          A young boy sits on a Resonance Board with a steel drum and a rain stick.

Sources for Materials

Check out our list of places where selected materials can be found (compiled by Patty Obrzut), including: Please note that while some of the specialized equipment is extremely expensive, interesting sound-producing materials can also be found or made from common household items, or purchased at yard sales, etc.

Watch Archived Webinars Any Time!

All of our webinars are recorded and archived on our site!  You can watch these for free at any time.  Find out how you can get credit for delayed viewing.  Recent webinar topics include:
  • Using an Active Learning Approach with Children with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI)
  • Using an Active Learning Approach for Older Students
  • Aligning Active Learning Goals with the General Curriculum
  • Active Learning Equipment
  • Setting Up Your Classroom for Active Learning
  • Choosing Materials and Matching Them to Learner Goals

Join Our Next Webinar!

Our final webinar of this school year will be on April 18, 2019.  The topic is Oral Motor Activities, with content from occupational therapist Patty Obrzut.  Remember that you must register for this free webinar and the link will be sent to you before the webinar takes place. 
4:00-5:00 EDT
3:00-4:00 CDT
2:00-3:00 MDT
1:00-2:00 PDT
       Register now

Upcoming Training Events

June 10-11:  Patty Obrzut, Dallas, Texas
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Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Perkins School for the Blind
Penrickton Center for Blind Children

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