Keywords: density, deciduous, conifers; Grade Level Lesson Plan: intermediate; Lesson Time: two 45-minute class periods; Setting: classroom


  • The students will investigate what sounds can be created from different types of woods.
  • The students will explore what characteristics of wood influence sounds.
  • The students will utilize wood to create music.

Materials Needed

  • deciduous woods (both newly cut and kiln dried)
  • coniferous woods (both freshly cut and kiln dried)
  • hammers
  • nails
  • water tubs
  • woodwind instruments
  • musical wood blocks
  • goggles
  • rulers

All blocks of wood should be identified, and the blocks of wood that will be tested in the tubs will need lined gradations on the sides to measure sinkage.


  • Students should have had integrated lessons in music and science on the science concepts of sound. This would include pitch, vibrations, intensity, and quality.
  • The teacher needs to gather materials. Wood may be obtained through home improvement centers or lumberyards. The forester in your county may also be a help with the freshly cut lumber.
  • Since this lesson involves some safety considerations, make sure the students wear goggles. It is also recommended that parent volunteers be used at hammer centers.
  • The use of water may also be messy. A nice aide would be a toddler's swimming pool. Placing the water tubs inside would accelerate cleanup.

Subjects Covered: science, math, and music

Science Standards: (4.2) Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources; (4.6) Ecosystems and Their Interactions; (4.9) Humans and the Environment


  1. Have students work in groups, preferably four due to materials needed.
  2. Allow students to visit four centers. Center one will have freshly cut wood and tubs of water. Students will ascertain density of different types of wood by the sinkage in water. Students will rank different wood from least sinkage to most sinkage. Center two will have tubs of water and kiln dried pieces of wood. The same testing will be completed as at center one. Center three will have wood samples and hammer and nails. Students will test which woods are the easiest to the most difficult to drive a nail into. Center four will be the same as center three, except the samples will be coniferous samples instead of deciduous. Centers three and four should be separated due to safety factors.
  3. After center work has been completed, the results should be tabulated on the board and discussed. Students should learn that water testing had to due with density and nail-driving had to due with hardness.
  4. Next the students should explore musical wood blocks. Hopefully students will be stirred to discover what wood creates the best sounds. Discuss why!
  5. Finally have the music teacher share woodwind instruments.


Assessment is based on the rankings. Students should discover that the denser and harder woods are the same. Also the kiln dried would create sharper tones.


  • The students could work with area and perimeter.
  • The students could also experiment with different sizes of wood.


Sisson, Edith A. Nature with Children of All Ages.


Dennis G. Hahn, fifth grade teacher, Bushkill Elementary School, Nazareth Area School District