Have you ever stumbled across a resource and it instantly sparked an idea for your classroom? That’s exactly what happened as I was browsing websites for an upcoming presentation. I came across this fantastic site about How to Make a Sound Map and instantly thought, “this would make a great sound mapping lesson!”.
This lesson explores the cross-cutting concept of how science, engineering and technology influence the world around us, as well as how music both influences and reflects our culture and environment. This is a big idea for middle school students and this sequence provides a good launchpad for exploring both of these areas.
There are several ways to create and explore sound mapping. There’s the basic idea of recording sounds in various areas of the world and then placing these recordings on a digital map. So students can listen in on what it sounds like at night in Nairobi or during the middle of the afternoon in London.
This alone makes some great connections with social studies and science. Learning how different cultures and environments play a role in shaping the ecosystem of a place is helpful. But there is so much more that can be done!
In this Lesson…
This is more of a generalized experience surrounding the sound map. The purpose of this lesson is to familiarize students with the concept of sound mapping and then use their school surroundings to create their own sound map. They can then layer their sound recordings from the school with various loops chosen in software like Garageband or Audacity to produce a new recording that emphasizes how the sounds change in various locations based on the environment.
What if you don’t have access to computers? Students can do this same activity without the tech component. They would just create their sound loops using body percussion or any musical instruments available.
Visual Art Extension
Another version of sound mapping is in taking specific sound recordings of different areas within the school. You can then create different symbols for each area based on the sounds produced. From there, you can use cartography, color, shape, or line to create a new map of the area, just based on the sounds being produced.
It would be very easy for students to take their sound maps and produce choreography that displays the unique sound profiles of each area on their map. For example, if the sounds of the cafeteria include sudden loud noises, students could use their bodies to move in a jerking motion or jump up and down quickly. They can explore various levels and energy based on the sounds alone. They can then create a dance map using the sound map as their guide.
Sound mapping is a fascinating tool to use for arts integration and STEAM lessons. What other ways have you used technology and the arts? What tips would you provide? Let us know in the comments below!
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.