Communicating with Light and Sound

When studying light and sound energy, one concept students need to know is how we use light and sound to communicate. I bet you might even do it in your classroom! Do you use a special sound throughout the day to communicate something to your students? For example, do you clap to get their attention or use a whistle at recess? Does a bell ring at the beginning and end of the school day?  Here are some ideas from my unit for teaching students about communicating with light and sound.

Communicating with Light and Sound Sort

Look online for images of ways we communicate using light and sound. Some examples of communicating with light include traffic signals, crosswalk signals, car lights and open signs. Examples of communicating with sound are sirens, doorbells, applause and train horns.

Print the images and create a sorting activity. Have students sort the pictures into one of two groups: light or sound. As students sort the pictures, discuss what the lights and sounds are communicating to the people who see or hear them.

Color by Sound Challenge

Can students use sounds to give directions for coloring a picture?

First, give each student a coloring sheet with a few simple objects. I just used a few balloons. Then, ask them to take out a red, yellow and blue crayon. Have them think about, discuss and plan which sounds they will use for each of the three colors.  It’s very important to make sure they use a different sound for each color.

Sounds can be as simple as clapping their hands, using their voice to make a noise or tapping a pencil on the table. Additional materials you might provide to make sounds include bells, whistles, maracas (or plastic eggs filled with rice), foil pans, tin cans, plastic cups, spoons, wood blocks or empty water bottles.

Next, have students color the objects in any order using the red, yellow and blue crayons.   Students then work with a partner.  They tell their partner what sound will represent each color.  They should practice with their partner by making the sound and having their partner hold up that color crayon before coloring.

Finally, they look at their recording sheet and make the sounds in order to tell their partner what color to color each object so that their partner’s picture matches theirs. They switch roles and do the activity again.   

Communication Writing Prompt

Give students a picture of something that uses lights and/or sounds to communicate. For example, you might use a picture of a fire truck, an ambulance or a traffic signal. Have them identify what message the lights or sounds tell others. Provide them with a word bank of words that might be important to include in their writing. Instead of having students write independently, you might do this as a whole group activity with beginning writers.

More Light and Sound Activities


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