A garden is a great place for the kids to use their ears, listen intently and make music. There are lots of activities you can do with sound outside to keep them occupied. Young children can play at noting how many noises they can hear from creatures in the garden and copying them.
Wind and Water
The wind rustling in the leaves and the tinkling of running water are all familiar outdoor sounds. Draw your children’s attention to these and similar sounds.
You can add sound to your garden by hanging wind chimes, windmills, wind spirals and wind spinners. Garden centres are good places to source these. You can also make your own wind chimes with shells or with old CDs.
On a windy day fix a plastic bag on a stick so creating your very own wind sock. Children can then feel and see the strength and direction of the wind. Let them hear branches creaking and swaying. This sound can be magnified by placing an ear to a tree trunk.
Use any material that will move and make a noise in the wind and tie them to trees and washing lines. Bead curtains, chains, flags, silver foil, and tinsel can all be used.
Permanent water features may not be suitable for young children. To bring the sound of running water into your garden a bubble fountain. If your children are older, as well as a pond, you can consider simple water features such as troughs, sinks, wall features and shallow water channels.
You can use rain and other water to make music on tins, plastic and other noisy surfaces. Swirl it down tubes and pipes. Use those same pipes and tubes to experiment with magnifying sound and echoes. Explore different plopping and splashing sounds in puddles and pools. When the children help you water the garden get them to identify the different sounds they can make from the watering can or hose.
Outdoor music is a great way to stimulate play and works well with role play. Get you child to explore the sounds and rhythms his body can make with clapping, jumping, hopping. Try stamping on different types of surfaces such as gravel, grass and paving.
Bring all your musical instruments outdoors. Kids Like Me has a great range of musical instruments from South America, South East Asia and Africa.
Make musical instruments with materials from the garden such as shakers and drums. Twigs, stones flower pots, leaves are all ideal candidates. Take saucepan lids, old cutlery, plastic bottles from the kitchen and hang some saucepans from the washing line or fence for a cacophony of sound.
Become a marching band and try simple songs such as:-
- I Hear Thunder
- I am the Music Man.
- Nick Nack Paddy Wack
Ask the children to listen to the sounds that different plants make. Most taller plants in the garden will move and rustle in the wind. If you wish to plant with sound in mind ornamental grasses are good rustlers and low maintenance as well. The tall Miscanthus varieties of grasses are like bamboo but with less stem and more foliage. Tall bamboo is a classic with both foliage that whispers in the wind and stems that knock together, creating a hollow sound. A reason why you often get wind chimes made of bamboo.
In your vegetable plot sweet corn which is also a member of the grass family works really well. A strong breeze is essential to it as it is wind pollinated. Try visiting a maize maze to hear this effect amplified many times.
At the quieter end of the scale is the annual self seeding plant Honesty which has delicate transparent seed heads you can just about hear tinkling on the wind. The papery orange-red, lantern-like seed pods of the Chinese Lantern plant makes similar sounds in the wind. Poppies are also great for seed heads that rattle away.