Sounds and Senses

In the last unit, students explored animal behaviors of parents and offspring that help the offspring survive and then designed a dam to stop the flow of water. In this unit, students explore the science phenomena of how animals communicate with one another using sound.

This page showcases key components of the first lesson in this unit. In this lesson, students investigate the cause-and-effect relationship between vibrating materials and sound, using their senses of hearing, touch, and sight.

Science Background for Teachers:

This additional background information supports teachers as they prepare to guide students through investigations and dialogue about a science phenomena. It provides teachers with more in-depth information on the topic.

For Thomas Walker, the easiest way to determine what species of cricket or katy did different insects are is to listen to their nighttime song. Walker is an entomologist who is one of the world’s leading experts on the two kinds of insects. “Without sound, we’d be in a pickle,” Walker told National Geographic News in 2006.

Walker has been identifying different species of the insects since the late 1950s, using their songs as a way to differentiate among individual animals. Only male insects make these sounds, and their primary goal is to attract a mate. This explains why each species has a different song: females recognize the songs from males of their species and respond only to those individuals.

Supports Grade 1

Science Title: Discovering Sound and Senses

In this lesson, students carry out a two-part investigation to explore how vibrating objects can cause sound and how sound can make matter (solids and liquids) vibrate. They use evidence to support an explanation about the cause- and-effect relationship between vibrations and sound.

Science Big Ideas

  • One animal behavior is making sounds to communicate with other animals. 
  • We use our sense of hearing to hear different sounds, which are made by vibrating materials.

Sample Unit CTA-2-Sep-07-2023-07-44-35-3787-AM
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Science Essential Questions

  • What behaviors did students explore in the last unit?
  • How can people make sounds? What are some examples of sounds?
  • What do all of these sounds have in common?
  • How can people use their senses to tell if something is vibrating? 
  • Using a sound that’s been described, how could you do the same behavior but change the sound, either making it louder or softer?
  • Why do we need ears to hear sounds? What would happen if we didn’t have ears? 
  • How can hearing a sound change our behaviors?

Common Science Misconceptions

Misconception: You see and hear an event at the same time.
Fact: You cannot hear sound until the vibrations travel from the source to your ears. 
Misconception: A material’s vibrations are unrelated to the sound the material makes.
Fact: There is a cause-and-effect relationship between vibrations and sound. All sounds are caused by vibrations.

Science Vocabulary

Ear: the part of the body that senses sound

Membrane: a thin, flexible covering

Sense:  how an animal gets information about the outside world

Vibrate: to move back and forth quickly

Lexile@ Certified Non-Fiction Science Reading (Excerpt)

Vibrations and Sounds

All sound comes from vibrating materials. To vibrate means to move back and forth quickly. A cricket’s wings vibrate when they rub together.

Your throat vibrates when you talk. Feel your throat when you hum. It vibrates. This is how you make sound.

Sensing Sound

Your ears hear vibrations. An ear is the part of the body that senses sound. A sense is how an animal gets information about the outside world. Hearing is one sense.

A cricket has ears on its legs. You have ears on your head. When a cricket chirps, it makes vibrations. These vibrations move the air. That moving air reaches your ears. You hear the sound of chirping.

Crickets make sounds to communicate. They share information with other crickets. Other crickets listen. They hear the chirps.


Hands-on Science Activity

As the main activity of this lesson, students carry out an investigation to explore how vibrating objects can cause sound and how sound can make matter (solids and liquids) vibrate. Students begin by using different materials and their senses to explore how vibrating objects can cause sound. Students then plan and carry out an investigation to help them answer the focus question: “Can sound make sand and water vibrate?”

Science Assessments

KnowAtom incorporates formative and summative assessments designed to make students thinking visible for deeper student-centered learning.

  • Vocabulary Check
  • Lab Checkpoints
  • Concept Check Assessment 
  • Concept Map Assessment 
  • And More...


Science Standards

See How KnowAtom Aligns to NGSS Science Standards

Discover hands-on screens-off core science curriculum for student centered K-8 classrooms. KnowAtom supports classrooms with all hands-on materials, curriculum, and professional development to support mastery of the standards.

Download the Alignment to NGSS

Standards citation: NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Neither WestEd nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.