Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Sounds Like Christmas, Exploring Hearing

Cathy Burgess
Bay District Schools


In this lesson, students learn that the sense of hearing helps us learn from each other through communication. Also, students learn sound can produce patterns.


The student identifies safe and unsafe behaviors.

The student knows and accepts the differences of people with special health needs.

The student understands that illustrations reinforce the information in a text.

The student knows patterns of sound in oral language (for example, rhyming, choral poetry, chants).

The student uses repetition, rhyme, and rhythm in oral and written texts (for example, recites songs, poems, and stories with repeating patterns; substitutes words in a rhyming pattern).

The student knows rhymes, rhythms, and patterned structures in children's text (for example, repetitive text, pattern books, nursery rhymes).

The student knows that vibrations caused by sound waves can be felt (for example, on a speaker when music is played, the head of a drum when it is hit, or a tuning fork).

The student knows that the five senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight) allow us to take in and respond to information in order to learn about our surroundings.


-Bells (sleigh bell, dinner bell, cow bells, bird cage bell)
-Jingle bells (enough for each child to have one)
-Chart: 5 Senses of Christmas (from lesson 1)
-Any kind of Christmas music
-Chart: Singing the Senses (from lesson 1)
-Diagram of the ear (see weblinks)
-American Sign Language alphabet (see weblinks)
-[Hearing] by M. Ruis, Barrons Juveniles, 1985
(or any book about the sense of hearing)
-[Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?], by Martin, Henry Holt & Company, Inc. 1997
-Radio/cd player
-Pen that clicks
-1 large rubber band
-5 small boxes with lids, wrapped with an object inside (baby shoe boxes are good)
-2 toy cars
-2 unifix cubes
-2 large paper clips
-2 pennies
-2 marbles
-Santa Bear, Santa Bear, What Are The Five Senses? (made in a previous lesson-See extensions)
-Christmas wrapping paper
-Silver glitter (1 jar)
-White construction paper 8 x 11 (enough for each student to have two pieces)
-Red ribbon (enough for each student to tie a bow at the top of their bells)


1. Gather toy cars, marbles, large paper clips, unifix cubes, and pennies. (2 of each item) Keep one set out for a visual model.

2. You need five baby shoeboxes, Christmas wrapping paper and tape. Wrap each one of the objects from above in a box.

3. Download diagram of the ear and American Sign Language alphabet from the Web links.

4. You need a radio or a tape player, bells, and a rubber band.

5. Gather charts for "Singing the Senses," "Looks Like Christmas" and "Sounds like Christmas," and Santa Fingerplay from lesson 1.

6. Make sure you have the book [Hearing] and [Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?] out and ready to read.

7. Use the bell pattern to cut out two bells for each student from the white construction paper. Punch a hole in the top. (Depending on the ability of your students at this time of the year, you may want them to trace and cut out the bells.) Make a silver bell to show as an example. This is #5 on day 2.

8. You will need enough tiny jingle bells for each student. (They usually can be found at the dollar store. Ask parents to donate them.)


This is lesson three, day four of A “Sense”sational Christmas.

1. Review previous lessons on the senses by singing and reading "Singing the Senses" and "Looks Like Christmas." Talk about what the five senses are and about the sense of sight. What are the important things about the sense of sight that they need to remember? Students should say, eyes bring in information to the brain and your brain tells you what you see. Your eyes give you information about the world. It is the most important sense. Review the words on the word wall.

2. Then go behind a desk or a tall bookcase so the students cannot see what you are doing. Ring a bell and ask students to guess what you did.

*Repeat this with various objects the students identify like: clicking of a pen, knocking on a desk, blowing a whistle.

*Then write a note on a piece of paper, and again, ask what you did. The students should say they don’t know because they can’t see or hear. Ask: What sense were you using before? Hearing. Without hearing it is hard to communicate and hard to learn about the world.

3. Say: Today we are going to talk about the sense of hearing. It is important to everyday life. A large part of learning involves hearing. The sense of hearing is second to your sense of sight, but is still very important. Read and discuss the book [Hearing]. While reading, make the association between the illustrations and text, then, show the diagram of the ear.

4. Now play a radio or tape player. Ask the students to place their hands on the radio to feel the vibrations. Vibrations are rapid back and forth motions. Tell them they can hear the music or voice coming from the radio or tape player because it is vibrating- it is making the air move back and forth. Stretch a rubber band between two fingers and pluck it; stretch the elastic farther and pluck it again. The children should see it vibrate. As the air moves back and forth, or vibrates, it makes sound waves. You cannot see the sound waves you hear. The sound waves travel through the air in all directions.

*Using the ear diagram, show students how the waves reach the outer ear and travel through the ear canal to the middle ear and then to the smaller part in the inner ear and that makes them vibrate. This sends a message to your brain. Your brain figures out what the sound is and what you should do about it. Sounds can keep you away from danger, help you get up in the morning, and make you feel good like when you listen to songs on the radio.

5. Tell students a person who cannot hear is called hearing impaired or deaf and deafness like blindness is a handicap. Can you imagine what it would be like not to be able to hear? You would not be able to hear your mother calling you, the TV or radio, your dog barking, or birds singing in the morning. Your world would be silent.

*Have students cover their ears with their hands. Then say: How old are you? See how they respond and ask how it feels. (Students should say they don’t like it and begin to understand how difficult life could be without the sense of hearing.)

6. Ask: How do you suppose a deaf person learns? Do you know someone who is deaf? They would have to use another sense. Most hearing-impaired people use sign language.

*Show them the picture of sign language alphabet that uses different hand motions to spell.

*Talk about a few of the different letters.

*Try signing some letters together. Teach the students to sign "Hi."

*Also tell students they must never, never put anything in their ears other than their elbows. Have students try that. It is ok for your parents to clean out your ears with a wet washcloth or Q-tip because they can do it gently without hurting you. Another important thing to remember is protect ears with earplugs when they are around loud noises like guns or fireworks etc.

*There are many men who have a significant loss of hearing from hunting and firing guns. If you and your dad hunt, it might be a good idea to use earplugs to protect your hearing.

7. Now students are going to play the Secret Sound game. Show the students one of the boxes. Ask: What sense would you use to discover what is in the box? As students respond, review which sense they would be using. Give students a turn to handle the box and listen to the sounds the contents make as the box is shaken. Ask students what, if anything, they can tell about the contents from moving the box and listening.

8. Introduce the set of sounds by holding up a toy car, a penny, a marble, a large paper clip, and a unifix cube. Tell students: These five objects are identical to the objects in the boxes and of the one I just showed you.

*Ask students to observe the objects. Guide them to use the process of elimination in selecting their predictions of what could be in the box.

*By a show of hands, have students indicate what they think is in the first box.

*Discuss the number of students predicting each object for the box shown. Now have a student open the box. Ask students to check their predictions with the actual one.

*Call on different students to tell why they chose the object they did. Repeat the activity with the other objects and boxes until all the boxes are done.

9. Now ask some questions to check for understanding. Students are to answer with thumbs up for yes and thumbs down for no. Call on students individually to extend answers. If students get the wrong answers, offer them formative feedback. (See information in the Assessment section.)

A. Did you use the sense of hearing to discover what contents were in the box?
B. Did you use the sense of sight at all?
C. Would it have been easier if there had been a bell in the box? Why?
D. Could a hearing-impaired person play this game with us? What could we do to
include a hearing-impaired person in this game?
E. Do vibrations cause sound waves that travel through the air and make you hear?
F. Do you think it’s ok to listen to loud music all the time? Why or Why not?
G. Should you put a pencil in your ear to scratch it?

10. Introduce and sing "Sounds Like Christmas" verse #2. Point to the words to reinforce the concepts of print. Ask what is the sound pattern to this verse? (Stress bl for blink) Sing both verses students until students have been able to practice patterns of sound, using repetition, rhyme, and rhythm. Talk about other sounds you hear at Christmas time. Make a chart of those sounds.

11. Ask students if there are any words to put in the word bank? Vibrations, sounds, and ear are a few to solicit from them. Add them to the Word Wall.

Lesson 3, day 5 of A “Sense”sational Christmas unit.

As children enter the room have Christmas music playing softly.

1. Get today’s lesson going by singing the first two verses of "Five Senses of Christmas" and the Santa’s Finger play.

*Ask: “What was different about the classroom when you came in this morning? They should say music was playing.

*How did you know? Review the sense of hearing and sound giving appropriate formative feedback.

*Ask: Why hearing is so important? Give appropriate feedback.

*How did it make you feel when you entered the room this morning?

*What kinds of waves make the sound you hear in your ear? What causes sound waves?

*Put your fingers on your throat and say hello. Did you feel the vibrations? Your voice box makes the vibrations that are sound waves that travel to your ears.

2. Tell students in today’s lesson we will continue learning about the sense of hearing. Show them several bells. Compare the sounds that different bells make by ringing them one by one. Then have them close their eyes while you ring one. When the students open their eyes, ask them to point to and name the bell they think you just rang. Do this for all the bells.

*Ask students to tell you from the beginning how your ears make sense of sound.

* Ask: Why do you think it is important to be able to recognize certain sounds? Explain that a person needs to know the sound of a police or fire siren so they can move a vehicle out of harm's way. Or sometimes the only way to know an oven is on is to hear the clicking noise it makes when it heats up and then clicks off when the temperature inside the oven is ready to cook. That could be a dangerous situation if someone forgot to turn it off for a long time. It could catch on fire. How would someone know if their dog needs to come in the house from outside, if the owner is in the bedroom? The dog barks and scratches at the door.

* See how important sound is in your everyday life? Have students think of times when the sense of hearing is important in their lives and share it with the person sitting next to them.

* Incorporate into the discussion the differences of a deaf person and how students could include a deaf person into their activities. (Use lights or vibrations to catch their attention.)

* Also stress references to safe and unsafe behaviors.

3. Tell students we are all lucky to have good hearing in our classroom and to celebrate that, read the book [Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?] Have students predict what the story will be about. Ask: What sense do you think the polar bear will use in this story? Discuss and formatively assess student's knowledge of patterned text, rhyme, and rhythm as you read. Stop and have them predict what word comes next on several pages. Also show how the text matches the illustration on the page.

4. Explain that since this lesson is on hearing, we are going to complete page 5 in their Santa Bear books. Read the book together from the beginning through page 5. Why do you suppose there is a picture of an ear in Santa Bears’ sack? Yes, it is a picture clue.

*What does that clue tell you about this page?

*Draw and color a picture of something you hear at Christmas. You must draw a picture of something other than a bell.

*Complete the sentence I hear_________. Think of the words in your head and write the sounds you hear or dictate your words to the teacher. Also, refer them to the chart they made the day before of sounds they hear at Christmas. Make sure the picture and words you write match. (Remember this is part of the Summative assessment, so give students limited assistance.)

5. Once students have had time to work, tell students “Silver Bells” is something we hear and sing at Christmas, so we are going to make some for our room. Hold up an example, so students can see what a completed one looks like.

*Show them there is actually a bell inside, so it rings.

*Pass out two construction paper bells. Have students put glue around the inside edge of one of the bells and glue the two together leaving a spot open at the bottom to put in the jingle bell.

*Then put glue around the edges of the outside of the bell and sprinkle glitter. Slide in the jingle bell and glue it the rest of the way.

*Tie a red ribbon at the top where the hole is punched.

*Make sure the bells lay flat to dry; otherwise you will have a drippy glue and glitter mess. Display in the room!

6. End the lesson by asking: "What sense or senses will we use to enjoy our silver bells?" A positive feedback statement my sounds like this: “Ding-a-ling! You are correct. We will use the sense of sound and sight to enjoy our silver bells." Corrective feedback may sound like this: "Yes we will use the sense of sound, but will we use another? Will we use our tongue, hand, or nose? What about our eyes? Yes!"


Day 4
Formatively assess the students’ knowledge that the five senses allow us to take in and respond to information in order to learn about our surroundings by observing students answers in activity #8 in the procedure section. Look for:

1. Yes, I used hearing to figure out what was in the box. I know a paper clip is lighter than the cube or the car is heavier and you can hear the tires roll.

2. We did use some sight because we got to see the objects outside the box to give us clues.

3. Yes, it would be easier if there were a bell in the box because it makes a distinct sound that is easy to recognize.

Formatively assess students’ knowledge that vibrations caused by sound waves can be felt by an oral assessment using the questions in activity in #8. Look for answers like: 5. I could feel it when I touched the radio or rubber band.

Formatively assess that students identify safe and unsafe behaviors of the ears and know and accept the differences of people with special health needs using the questions asked in activity #8 in the procedure section. Look for: #4. Yes, a hearing impaired person could play a game with us if we used sign language or had an interpreter who could communicate with them. #6. No, it is not ok to listen to loud music all the time. It can damage your hearing. #7. You should never put anything in your ear other than your elbow. You should let an adult clean your ears with a washcloth or Q-tip.

Day 5
Formatively assess student’s knowledge that the five senses allow us to take in and respond to information in order to learn about our surroundings by listening to students' answers in activity #3. Specifically that the Polar Bear will use the sense of hearing in this story.

Formatively assess students' knowledge of rhymes, rhythms, and patterned structures in children's text and understanding that illustrations reinforce the information in a text by listening to students' responses in activity #3 in the procedure section.

Formatively assess student's knowledge and acceptance of deaf people into their daily activities.

Finally, formatively assess students' knowledge of vibrations being caused by sound waves and that they can be felt. (Day 5, number 1)


The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files, (if any).

1. Make a tape recording of sounds heard at Christmastime, such as bells ringing, wrapping paper rustling, Santa laughing, Christmas music, and a vacuum cleaner humming. Let students listen to the tape and try to identify the different sounds. You can also make a picture card for each sound and have the students match the sounds with the pictures.

2. Let students take turns wishing everyone a Merry Christmas on a tape recorder. Write down the student’s names in order as they speak. Play the tape later at the listening center and let the students try to identify the different voices.

3. Read the book, [A Picture Book of Helen Keller], by Adler, Holiday House, 1991 (or any other book about Helen Keller).

4. Another good book to use with this lesson is [Sign Language ABC With Linda Bove], by Bove and Shevett, Random House, 1985.

5. Place boxes in science center for children to continue to explore the secret sounds.

Web Links

Diagram of the Ear
Kids Health

American Sign Language Fingerspelling Page
American Sign Language

Attached Files

The diagram of an ear and a bell pattern for the art activity.     File Extension: pdf

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