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Talking Through Tubes

Explore changes in sound.


  • 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
  • a small piece of paper for each child
  • a camera

Key Science Concepts

  • Different objects make different sounds.
  • Sounds vary by volume (loud or soft), and pitch (high or low).
  • A sound becomes louder when the force of the action that is creating the sound is increased (for example, when you hit a drum harder). A sound becomes softer, or quieter, when the force is decreased.
  • Sounds seem different when they travel through a hollow object.
  • Sound is caused by vibration.


Introduce and use the key terms tube and vibrate. Help children practice their science skills with words such as change, different, and compare.


Tell children that today they’re going to take the tubes outside and try talking and singing into the tubes. What do they think might happen?

  1. Let children experiment, listening to themselves as they talk or sing, first without a tube and then through a tube.
    • What changes (if any) do they notice in the sound?
    • What happens if they put their hand over the end of the tube as they are talking?
    • What if they move the tube a little bit away from their mouths?
  1. You may want to take photos of the children doing these experiments.

Extension Activity

Hand a cardboard tube and a small piece of paper to each child. Have children hold the piece of paper over the end of their tube as they talk or sing into the other end.

  • What do they notice? Introduce the word vibrate into the conversation.

Have the children breathe in and out through the tube as they touch the paper at the end of the tube.

  • What is the paper doing? Is it vibrating?

Have them try singing or talking into the tube again as they feel the paper.

  • What is it doing now? What do they think is making the paper vibrate?

Reflect and Share

Encourage children to share observations from their outdoor sound experiences with the tubes. If you have taken photos, use them to remind children of some of the things they did. What did they notice when they were listening through the tubes? What new things did they discover today?

Ask them to touch their fingers or hands to their throats, then talk or sing. What do they notice? Introduce them to the word vibration. Ask them if they noticed any vibrations during their explorations today.


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