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What's That Sound?

When we walk in the forest, we hear so many different sounds. Our ears are always on. But how do we tell what sound is what in a forest? Is it a bird? Is it an animal? Is it the leaves of a tree? What do your ears tell you? In this adventure, pay attention to what your ears tell you. Can you guess what something is if you can hear it but cannot see it? Keep track of which sounds you are able to guess right.

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  • Do you want to do this adventure indoors, outdoors or at camp?
  • Who will get the plastic jars ready for this adventure?
  • What sorts of objects will you put in the plastic jars?


  • Gather a collection of plastic jars that you cannot see through.
  • Place different small objects in each jar – ideas could include dried rice, dried beans, small rocks or pompoms.
  • In small groups, pass around the plastic jars.
  • Carefully shake each jar, then try and guess what objects are inside each jar.
  • What sounds do the different objects make? What clues does this give you about the object?


  • What do you know now that you did not know before?
  • How were the sounds the same? How were they different?
  • How did you work together to explore what you were hearing?
  • What are some different nature sounds that you can identify? A loon’s call? A cicada’s buzz?


  • Plastic jars
  • Things to put in the plastic jars (e.g. dried rice, dried beans, small pebbles, pompoms, etc.).

Keep it Simple

  • It can be hard to imagine what you’re hearing without seeing it first! Before closing the jars, take a look at the different things in them. Then, close the lids and ask someone to mix them up for you. As you shake them, try to remember the things you saw and guess which thing it might be!

Take it Further

  • What sounds can you recognize outdoors? Learn the sounds of different animals, as well as different natural sounds, like water flowing in a stream, or branches creaking on trees.