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Listening Through Tubes

Listen to sounds through tubes and hoses.


  • a variety of tubes, including cardboard tubes from toilet paper, paper towels, and wrapping paper
  • mailing tubes; cans opened on both ends
  • flexible tubing such as hoses from shop vacs, vacuum cleaners, or sump pumps (look for these in the plumbing section of hardware stores)

Key Science Concepts

  • Sounds can vary in volume (loud and soft), and pitch (high and low).
  • A sound becomes louder when the force of the action that is creating the sound is increased. A sound becomes softer, or quieter, when the force is decreased.
  • Sounds seem different when they travel through a hollow object.


Introduce and use key terms such as tube and hose. Invite children to practice descriptive words such as louder, softer, same, and different and action verbs like tap, rub, cover, scratch, knock, tickle. Help them practice their science skills with words such as listen, notice, compare, and change.


Tell children that they are going to listen to sounds through tubes.

  1. Have children hold a cardboard tube up to their ears and listen to the sounds around them. What do they hear? Ask:
    • If they take the tube away from their ear, even just a little bit, how do the sounds change?
    • What happens if they cover the other end of the tube with their hand?
  1. Jot down children’s comments, questions, and discoveries as they continue to explore listening through cardboard tubes. Take photos. You will use these photos and notes during your Reflect and Share session.
  2. Have children rub a finger lightly along the cardboard tube as they hold it up to their ears. What does it sound like?
  3. Have them hold the tube away from their ears and rub the tube softly again. How is the sound they hear different? Encourage children to use their fingers to make other sounds on the tube—what does it sound like when they tap, tickle, or scratch on the tube?
  4. If you have flexible tubing such as a hose, invite children to hold one end of the tubing up to their ear and whisper very softly into the other end. What do they notice? Ask:
    • Can they hum a soft song to themselves?
    • What does it sound like if they tap or scratch on the hose or tubing?  

Reflect and Share

Invite children to share their tube-listening (and tube-talking) discoveries. Use the photos and notes you have taken to focus the conversation and to help students recall their experiences and ideas. Using the tubes and hoses, have children demonstrate their discoveries. 

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