Hearing is the last sense we are learning about in our Exploring the Five Senses for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Series. My kids have had a blast learning about their bodies and their senses through actives and play.

Our five senses are how we understand and interact with the world around us, and it’s great to start introducing these concepts to our kids as young as possible so they will always be familiar with them.

In the Sense of Touch post, my kids loved the interaction of me touching them softly with their eyes closed. In the Sense of Taste post, my kids really enjoyed tasting foods and determining which taste category it is in. In the Sense of Smell post, my kids loved smelling different fragrant items with their eyes closed. Last month in the Sense of Sight post, my kids liked using a magnifying glass to see details of everyday objects.

Today we will learn all about our Sense of Hearing. I know my kids will love these activities just as much as those we did for the previous four senses. Especially because they get make their own instruments and play music in the Let’s Make Music activity!

I can’t help but automatically thinking of music when I think of my sense of hearing. Music has always been a huge part of my life. My mom would always play music for us at home. Anything from their old Beatles records (yes, we had a record player!) to musical soundtracks to Raffi (if you don’t remember Raffi, do yourself a favor and look him up – my kids and I still listen to “Baby Beluga” by Raffi on Amazon Music).

In middle school I joined band and played the trumpet for the next seven years. I loved everything about being in band – the music, performances, and friends I made. I am grateful I can hear the beautiful music that can soothe and enhance almost any emotion I am feeling.

I also enjoy listening to people talk. Podcasts are my new favorite thing to listen to in the car. One voice I really love is my mom’s. She knows how to make me calm, happy, or motivate me with her voice. It’s no surprise because a study showed that our mom’s voice is more effective than a fire alarm at waking her children up and getting them moving quickly in a fire or emergency.

Some people are born without the ability to hear, called deafness. They often rely more on their sense of sight and use sign language to communicate without talking. Hearing loss and impairment is a common symptom of aging. Luckily, hearing aides can greatly help people with hearing loss.

Let’s talk about the sense of hearing

Here’s a brief summary of the anatomy of your ear: The large flap on the outside of your ear (aka the pinna) catches noise and directs it into your ear canal and on to the eardrum. Behind your ear drum are ossicles (which is made up of the three smallest bones in your body) followed by the cochlea. The cochlea is shaped like a snail, filled with liquid and lined with hair-like particles.

I’m sure you or your kids have discovered some yellow ear wax in your ear canal from time to time. This is to protect your inner ear. The ear wax traps particles and potential contamination from getting deeper into this sensitive organ.

Our ears allow us to hear sounds through by vibrations. Vibrations cause sound waves. These are funneled from the ear flap to the ear canal, the eardrum, into the ossicles in the middle ear, and finally into the cochlea. The hairs in the cochlea are stimulated by the vibrations and send the sound signal to your brain for interpretation.

Today I’m sharing three simple activities to help your child learn more about their ears and sense of hearing. In Learning about our Ears your child will look in the mirror to investigate this body part. In Can you Hear Me? your child will learn about volume and pitch by changing your voice. In Let’s Make Music your child will create their own instruments and play them.

Resources: Eschool Today, Highlights magazine


Learning about our Ears

In this simple activity you will introduce your child to their ears and discuss this important body part. This is a great activity for all ages.

Materials needed:

  • You and your kids
  • Mirror

Safety:

You and your children may be touching your ears with your fingers in this experiment. Make sure your hands are washed and clean before beginning the experiment and also wash them again after finishing the experiment to prevent the spread of germs and infection. 

Procedure:

  1. Wash hands

2. Sit or stand in front of a mirror

3. Touch or point to your ears and tell your child that these are your ears. Our ears are used to hear sounds.

4. Point to the lobe and tell them that is your ear lobe

A. If you or your child have ear piercings you can point them out and explain that we have a tiny hole in our ear so we can wear earrings as a fashion accessory.

5. Point to the top of your ear, this is the ear flap (or pinna)

6. Point to the hole that leads into your ear, this is the ear canal that leads to the eardrum. Our eardrums are very sensitive and allow us to hear sounds.

7. Help your child learn more about their ears with these questions:

A. Are your ears bigger or smaller than mine?

B. Are our ears the same shape or different? (explain that ears come in many shapes and sizes)

C. Can you move your ears?

What Happened:

Your child learned all about their ears. We use our ears to hear sounds to alert us of danger or to soothe with music. We learned ears come in all different shapes and sizes. and that sometimes people pierce their ears so they can wear earrings.


Can you Hear Me?

In this activity you will talk to your child in a whisper, normal voice, loud voice, and silly voices. It is a great way to introduce volume and pitch to your child.

This activity is fun for all ages, baby through adult.

Materials needed:

  • You and your child

Safety:

Do not talk loudly or yell too close to your child’s ear. Loud noises, even from our own voices and damage their sensitive young ear drums.

Procedure:

  1. Explain to your child we are going to learn about volume and pitch today while you talk to them.

2. Sit or stand across from your child (around 5 feet away) and whisper a sentence (for example: “can you hear me?”)

My son is leaning in trying to hear what I’m whispering to him

A. Ask your child to whisper too

“whisper, whisper”

B. Ask in a normal voice if that was loud or quiet, then explain the correct answer to them (for example: “When we whisper, it is a quiet noise. Quiet means it is very soft and difficult to hear.”)

3. Sitting or standing at the same distance yell the same sentence to your child

“That’s too loud Mama!”

A. Ask your child to yell too

Yelling is fun!

B. Ask in a normal voice if that was loud or quiet, then explain the correct answer to them (for example: “When we yell it is a loud noise. Loud means it is very noisy and strong to hear.”)

4. Talk in a high pitched voice like a mouse and ask your child to do the same

“This voice is silly!”

A. Ask your child if that voice was high or low pitch, then explain the correct answer (for example: “That was a high pitch sound. High pitch means above a normal voice range and it can sound sharp and shrill”)

5. Talk in a low pitched voice like a monster and ask your child to do the same

A. Ask your child if that voice was high or low pitch, then explain the correct answer (for example: “That was a low pitch sound. Low pitch means below a normal voice range and it can sound deep and soft”)

6. Experiment with other volumes and pitches with your own voice and your children. Who can make the silliest sounds?

What Happened:

Your child learned about volume and pitch. They learned there is a difference between quiet and loud and low and high pitch sounds. They learned how to recognize these sounds in your voice using their sense of hearing, and also how to make the sounds with their own voices.


Let’s Make Music

In this fun activity your child will make three musical instruments (guitar, drum, and shaker) by reusing materials from around the house. Your child will learn to play the instruments too.

This is a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers to participate in. Babies will enjoy listening to you play the music and might be able to play the shaker and drums!

Materials needed:

For the guitar:

  • Shoe box
  • Scissors
  • 3 (or more) large rubber bands
  • 2 pencils

For the drum:

  • Empty round oatmeal container
  • Two unsharpened pencils (optional, but my kids preferred this over their hands to play the drum)

For the shaker:

  • Large empty water bottle
  • Buttons, beads, rice, and/or beans
I found a half bag of split peas that was opened a long time ago, and since I generally use a full bag of split peas each time I make soup, this was unlikely to ever be used – which makes it perfect to use as our shaker filler!

Safety:

You will use scissors to cut a hole in the top of the shoebox. Cutting a hole in the top of cardboard is even sometimes difficult for adults, so do this step yourself and keep the sharp scissors away from your children. Help your child learn how to play the instruments and alert them of the danger of a snapping rubber band on the guitar.

Procedure:

To make the guitar:

  1. Draw a large circle on the top of the shoebox with a pen, then cut around the circle with sharp scissors
My kids patiently watched me cut the circle

2. Place the rubber bands around the shoebox, lengthwise

We started with just 3 rubber bands, but ended up with 6 total on the guitar.
You and your kids may add as many or few rubber bands as you like!

3. Insert the pencils under the rubber bands on both side of the hole

4. Pluck the rubber bands to make music

5. Listen to the sound the guitar makes.

Discuss what your child is hearing by asking them questions:

A. Can you play the guitar both loud and quiet?

B. Do you like the sounds the guitar is making?

C. Does it sound like guitars you hear in songs on the radio?

D. Can you play a song and sing along?

To make the drum:

  1. Place the lid on an empty large oatmeal box

2. Tap the lid with your hands or unsharpened pencils to make music

3. Listen to the sound the drum makes.

Discuss what your child is hearing by asking them questions:

A. Can you play the drum loud and quiet?

B. Do you like the sounds the drum is making?

C. Does it sound like drums you hear in songs on the radio?

D. Can you play a song and sing along?

To make the shaker:

  1. Fill a large empty water bottle with buttons, beads, rice, and/or beans

2. Tightly screw the lid on the water bottle

3. Shake the water bottle to make music

4. Listen to the sound the shaker makes. Discuss what your child is hearing by asking them questions:

A. Can you play the shaker loud and quiet?

B. Do you like the sounds the shaker is making?

C. What does it sound like?

D. Can you play a song and sing along?

Start a band:

  1. Get the whole family involved and give each person an instrument to play

2. Play music together as a family (don’t worry if none of you are playing the same beat or tune)

3. Listen to the sounds you are making together with all the instruments, and then ask your child about what they are hearing:

A. Is the volume of our music too loud, too quiet or just right?

B. Do you like the sound of the music we are making? Why or why not?

What Happened:

Your child learned to make their own instruments by recycling items you already have around the house. They are learning that items can be used for many things and we don’t have to throw everything away immediately. Your child learned to appreciate how music is made with instruments and if they prefer some sounds of instruments over others.


This was a great way to close our our five senses series and learn all about our ears and hearing. My kids and I could have played our instruments together in our band all day (and we pretty much did the day we did the experiment, and every day since then…).

I hope you have enjoyed following along with my Exploring the Five Senses for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Series. I have had fun helping my kids learn about their five senses and the body parts that allow them to sense the world around them.

Let me know which was your favorite sense out of the five senses we explored in this series in the comments below!

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