Issue 16: Early Years Music-Making – The Noisy Box

This is an idea I came across;

You have a small, decorative box with a lid, which is the Noisy Box. You explain to the children that it is full of sounds. Then you open it up, “take out a sound” and make it; eg “zzzzzzzz”, and the children copy your sound. After a coupe of demonstrations to the children, you invite one of them to have a go.

Here’s how I actually used it;

My box is a little tin with a hinged lid. I went through the explanation above, but when I opened the box I did it very close to my body, all secretly, so none of the children could see inside. I took out the sound as though it was a sweet, popped it in my mouth and pretended to suck it, and appeared to be deciding what flavour it was. Then, I made the sound, and looked a bit surprised at the same time. (Imaginative play, drama, facial expressions – tick those boxes). Once I had had a couple of goes, I chose a willing child and carefully opened the box just a chink, so they could get their fingers in to find a sound, but no-one else could see in.

Most children will want a go; I don’t try and persuade the younger children but let them watch and decide when they are ready to join in.

What is so amusing is that they all get to see that the box is empty, but at the end of the game they always ask “What is in the box” and want to see inside! I usually snap the lid open and shut very fast, (well away from noses and fingers), to keep everyone guessing.

In the following weeks, I tell a stories about the box first; for example

“I took my box to the farm, to hear all the animals. We looked at the chickens and I caught their sounds in my box (I make chicken noises and snap the box open and shut as though I am catching the sounds), and then we saw”….. etc etc

When we go on to play the game, the children use my sounds or add other relevant sounds (relevant to the children, I have to say – sometimes the zoo is full of dinosaurs and power rangers, and there are a lot of diggers in all sorts of strange places).

One of the children, in one of the groups I teach during the week hasn’t yet started speaking; they indicated that they wanted a turn. They managed to take and “eat” the sound, but were unable to go any further. Fortunately it was easy to gloss over any awkwardness; “Oh dear – have you swallowed the sound? Has it gone?” everyone laughed and we moved on to the next child.

Over the weeks that we have been playing the with the Noisy Box all the children have become more inventive and confident, and are all choosing to join in and have a go.


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