I love sharing Mem Fox books with my students and for this hands-on, experimental activity we used her book Night Noises. In this story Lily Laceby and her dog, Butch Aggie, are resting at home by the fire on a cold, stormy evening. A series of noises from outside have Butch Aggie worried but Lily Laceby keeps on dreaming. Finally the sounds of people shouting and Butch Aggie’s barking wake her for her surprise 90thbirthday party.
This story is full of sounds that we wanted to bring to life, so out of our Sound Box came a bunch of recycled objects for students to experiment with: utensils, boxes, tins, chopsticks, funnels, tin foil as well as our own voices. We re-read the story pulling out as many sound opportunities as we could find and set about bringing our story to life. Some of our sounds are linked below – they’re only a few seconds each. You might like to play them for your kiddos and challenge them to see what sounds they can create by using their voices and everyday objects. A warning: this is a highly engaging activity that can last for quite a while, but it’s worth it as the way they build their ideas is really wonderful to watch! [Techie note: I used GarageBand for recording].
Sounds Using Objects
Lily Laceby’s creaky knees (funnel and metal chopstick)
Footsteps in the garden (fingertips on tin foil)
Rain on the house (plastic cups, chopsticks, tin, soup ladle, watering can with water, tin bucket)
Unlocking the door (plastic bottle and cap)
The storm (using every object possible!)
Sounds Using Voices
Butch Aggie growling
Butch Aggie barking
Lily Laceby snoring. Please note: Lily does not snore in the story, but the children decided it would add colour and nominated the best snorer in the class for the job!
Where’s the toilet? Please note: the additional phrase was a piece of off-the-cuff ad-libbing. I clearly have a budding actress in my classroom!
To help students focus and record their results I created 2 printables, Noises in the Night, that you are welcome to download. (Sorry they’re not clear below – I cut the tops & bottoms off!)
In the first, pictures depict 4 different kinds of sounds from the story.
In order to differentiate students had to either a) draw pictures of the objects they used to make the sound; b) write the names of the objects used; or c) write a ‘word’ to depict the sound they made. The pictures do not have to represent an exact sound from the book, for eg, the upper left picture can be interpreted as a tree banging on the roof, or branches scraping the window, whatever inspires the child most.
The second printable contains phrases from the book for students to read and trace. They particularly liked ‘toilet?’ since one of their favourite phrases from the book was, “Where’s the toilet?” In the classroom I extend the activity by recording the children reading the story and adding in their sound effects digitally afterwards. Whether you add pictures to make a movie file to watch, or just leave it as pure audio, it’s a lovely keepsake!
What other great books could do with a sound effects make-over from the Sound Box?