Submitted by: Ariele Lerner

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

This lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, invites students to explore BrainPOP resources to learn about string instruments. They’ll find out about the different types of string instruments, how waves and strings play a role in the sounds they produce, and more. Students then work together to create their own string instrument.

 

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about string instruments and listen to sounds of some common string instruments.
  2. Use a simulation game to identify how to manipulate the wave that a string makes using amplitude, frequency and other factors.
  3. Create their own string instrument that has a unique sound.

Materials:

  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Sound videos for each instrument
  • Shoe boxes (or other similarly sized, hollow box), and assorted rubber bands of different widths and sizes

Preparation:

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students to name some string instruments that they are familiar with. Play the sound clips for each of the following instruments for the whole class: Violin Sound, Viola Sound, Cello Sound, Double Bass Sound, Piano Sound. As an added challenge, after each sound clip, ask if anyone knows what instrument made the sound. Prompt students to comment on the differences and similarities they heard in each instrument.
  2. Show the movie String Instruments on the whiteboard or other large display to the whole class. Turn on the closed caption option to aid in comprehension.
  3. After watching the movie once through, have students independently open Wave on a String on their devices or computers. Give them the following conditions, and ask them to produce waves with each scenario:
    • Set the string to oscillate, and add the ruler to the screen. Create a wave with an amplitude of 0.94 cm and a frequency of 2.41 Hz, high tension, and no damping. Pause the wave and use a SnapThought to predict what this wave might sound like on a string instrument.
    • Change the settings to have a loose end, low tension, and high damping. Then, adjust the amplitude and frequency until there are exactly two waves on the string. Pause the wave and use a SnapThought to record the amplitude and frequency, and to describe why these conditions lead to the wave that they created. Use an additional SnapThought to predict the type of sound that this wave might produce.
  4. Have students save and submit their SnapThoughts. Next, have students collaborate with a partner to construct their own string instrument. Demonstrate how different sizes and thickness of rubber bands when stretched around a shoe box create different sounds.
  5. Distribute boxes and a range of rubber bands to each pair. Encourage students to explore and discover the variety of sounds they can produce, making their instrument unique. Instruct students to use at least three different types of rubber bands for their instruments. Have them apply what they learned from the movie and the ideas that they came up with during the Wave on a String simulation to critically think about why the rubber bands produce varying sounds.
  6. Then, on a sheet of paper, ask students to draw what the waves of three of their “strings” might look like according to the sound that they produce with their instrument. Have students number each string for clarity both on the paper and on their instrument.
  7. Circulate as pairs are working, helping as needed. If you brought in resources, encourage them to use those as well.
  8. Finally, have pairs present their instrument to the class, describing the sounds that they chose to incorporate and demonstrating the different notes.

Extension Activities:

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