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Experimenting with Sound: The Magic School Bus and the Haunted Museum


Computers & Internet, Language Arts, Music, Science  


2, 3, 4, 5  

Experimenting with Sound: The Magic School Bus and the Haunted Museum

By Michele Slone
Primary Subject: Music
Secondary Subjects: Science, Language Arts, Computers/Internet
Grade Level: 2-5


Students will be able to: 

  • Understand how sound travels and what makes sounds vary in pitch
  • Conduct experiments making sound
  • Conceptualize their own made-up instrument and explain how it makes sound

Materials Needed

  • Television or movie screen and projector
  • Episode of The Magic School Bus and the Haunted Museum
  • Classroom activity sheet episode companion from
  • Metal slinky
  • Clean empty soup can
  • Can opener
  • Plastic wrap or a balloon with open end cut off
  • Rubber band
  • A few grains of rice
  • A radio or tape cassette player
  • Objects for making musical instruments: rubber bands, wooden or cardboard boxes, cans, jars, pebbles, beans, paper clips


Begin unit by viewing the video The Magic School Bus and the Haunted Museum. After viewing and discussing terms from the video, do the following sound experiments:

  • Using a slinky, discuss vibration with high and low sounds an use the slinky to demonstrate the different vibrations dealing with length and tightness/looseness.
  • Use hands and make hand tunnels to experiment with clapping and talking, and relate to vibrations.
  • Discuss echoes, and ask discussion questions such as: I echo in the gym and my room has four walls, so why don’t I don’t echo in here?

Then, do the experiment from the classroom activity sheet. Have students record predictions and observations. Then have the students follow the directions to either make or draw their original instrument and write how the sound is created.

Next  (if available) do various sound activities as a class with the Magic School Bus and The House of Sound computer program. Activities both test knowledge and help in exploring sound and concepts.

End the unit with sound centers. I rotate students through five centers:

  1. Click and Experiment About Sound: (Computer — using Magic School Bus Program: I use the “Sound Mixer” and “Vibration” experiments on the program)
  2. Read About Sound: Book and experiments — students follow directions on the “From Ms. Frizzle” page
  3. Instruments and Sound: Experimenting with different instruments, drawing vibrations, and classifying sounds
  4. Name that Sound: Students use a sound tape and identify sounds on the tape
  5. Make a Tune With Water : Students use bottles of water and add and take away water to match pitches of a tuning fork, boomwhacker, handchime, and triangle.

Different centers incorporate science, language arts, technological skills, and listening skills with music in the music classroom.

I use a sound center of the day chart, where one group in each class is declared sound center of the day based on participation, behavior, following directions, and so on. Each sound center of the day has their “star” displayed for their class on the chart, and receives a sticker/eraser/good slip.

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