Sound Waves Lesson Plan for Elementary

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Use this lesson plan to help you teach your students about sound waves. Students will read a text lesson that explains how hearing works and what a sound wave is. Hands-on learning, discussion questions, application activities, and a quiz make learning memorable.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain what sound waves are
  • outline how sound waves produce different types of sounds
  • discuss why sound waves are important


1 - 1.5 hours


Key Vocabulary

  • Sound waves
  • Vibrating energy
  • Vibrations
  • Pitch

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • CSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3

Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.1

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Warm Up

  • Start the lesson by having students place a few fingers on their throat and hum a song. Ask them to talk to a partner to share what they feel.
  • Ask students to discuss the guiding questions:
    • How does sound travel?
    • What makes sound?
  • Preview and define lesson vocabulary words, then distribute the lesson Sound Waves Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts .


  • Read the first section 'What Are Sound Waves?' together.
  • Divide students into partners and give each group a Slinky.
  • Have two students from each group stretch their Slinky as they each hold one end. Once the Slinky stops moving, have the student on one end move forward and backward (not up and down) slightly as others in the group watch.
  • Ask:
    • What happens to the Slinky when we move one end?
    • Why is the energy moving in this way?
  • Ask:
    • Have you ever felt a sound wave? What did it feel like?
  • Now read the section 'Why Are Sound Waves Important?' and have partners identify ways sound waves are important. Allow each to share a reason, then read 'How Do You Hear?' and 'How Do Sound Waves Produce Different Types of Sound?' together.
  • Have students close their eyes as you make sounds that produce a variety of pitches, such as ringing a bell or slamming a book.
  • Instruct students to indicate the level of pitch with their hands, raising them high if the pitch is high and low if the pitch is low.
  • Now give each students a rubber band and instruct them to stretch it tight, then pluck and listen closely to the sound. Ask them to describe the pitch; it should be high.
  • Tell students to loosen the stretch on the rubber band and pluck again, noticing the pitch, which should be lower.
  • Discuss:
    • Why are some pitches higher than others?
    • What is the relationship between sound waves and pitch?
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary' together and take the quiz together to check understanding.

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