K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • practice auditory skills by distinguishing differences in sounds made by plastic eggs filled with pebbles, rice, or salt.
  • classify sounds according to dynamics.
  • graph the number of students playing eggs of each color and compare to dynamic levels.
  • compose sound pieces.
  • make egg “Maracas.”

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

35-40 minutes


  • 1 Plastic Easter Egg per student in the class. Choose 3 dominant colors of eggs i.e. 6 red, 6 green, and 6 blue (eggs do not have to be evenly divided).
  • 1 package whole grain rice
  • 1 package dried beans or similar sized pebbles
  • 1 box of salt
  • 12 pieces of colored paper 81/2″x11″ (4 pieces of each color egg chosen)
  • white board
  • 1 red dry erase marker
  • 1 blue dry erase marker
  • 1 green dry erase marker
  • 3 sets of sandblocks
  • 3 sets of castanets
  • 3 maracas
  • 1 tape and recorder

A large open space to allow for sitting in large and small groups is needed for this lesson.

Technology resources

A tape and recorder.


  • Eggs should be prepared with chosen fillings and taped so they won’t come open. Then hide the eggs for children prior to their arrival.
  • Paper eggs should be cut.
  • Place markers of red, green, and blue in board tray.
  • A block graph of three columns should be drawn on whiteboard. Within each column there should be 12 one inch blocks. Label one column red, one column blue, and one column green to correspond with egg colors chosen.
  • Three sets of castanets, sandblocks and 3 maracas should be handy.
  • A recorder should be prepared for taping.


  1. Hide the eggs in the music classroom so that they are easily found.
  2. Meet the students at the door and give the following instructions before they enter: “Today you are going on an egg hunt. The eggs you will find do not have a treat that you can eat inside. They have a sound inside of them. Each of you is to find one egg and then go to the center of the room and sit quietly listening to the sound of your egg until everyone has found an egg and joins you there. Remember no talking because you must be able to hear your egg.”
  3. When everyone is seated at the center of the room listening to their egg, signal them to stop. “Now when I say go, your challenge is to walk around the room softly shaking your egg until you meet someone whose egg sounds the same. Then link arms with that person and continue until you have linked arms with everyone that you think belongs in your group. Ready, Go.”
  4. Have them sit in their newly discovered groups. If someone cannot find a group let that student play alone and then let those that think they match his/her sound play. They usually figure out that eggs with the same color have similar tone color.
  5. Allow each group to play while others listen.
  6. Have each group think of words that describe the sound of their eggs. Then have them describe the dynamic level of their eggs and share with the class. Music vocabulary to be introduced: piano, mezzo-forte, and forte. Of course, they will want to guess what is inside their eggs as well.
  7. Turn their attention to the graph on the whiteboard. Ask, “How many students are playing red eggs?” Let one student from the red group color in the blocks to represent that number. Continue with the other two groups. “Suppose this graph was to tell us about the dynamic levels of the eggs. What could we learn?” (For instance, if there were the same number of red eggs with salt inside them as there were green eggs with pebbles inside them, it would appear that they would be the same loudness but that is not the case. Allow students to explain why that is not true.) Scientific principles of hard substances making a loud sound when striking a hard surface and soft substances making a soft sound when striking a hard surface will be noted.
  8. Have each group form a circle sitting down. Issue each group three types of instruments; a set of sandblocks, a set of castanets, and one maraca. Instruct one student in each group to select one of the instruments and play it, and then listen to his/her own egg and decide if the instrument makes a similar sound. Then they must pass the instrument to the next person in the group and they do the same. When that instrument has gone around the circle, another instrument is passed. The group votes on the instrument that sounds the most like their eggs. When each group has completed the assignment, allow each to present the sound of their eggs followed by the sound of the instrument they chose.
  9. Now, instruct all of groups to form a standing straight line starting with those whose eggs play piano to those whose eggs play mezzo-forte, ending with those whose eggs play forte.
  10. Instruct them to play when you wave your hand over their heads and to stop when you’ve passed them by. The effect is similar to a rainstorm. They will immediately realize this and will want to continue doing it. At this point, a student could be chosen to direct the storm and the teacher could record it.
  11. To continue their original sound pieces, stick red, green, and blue eggs in a chosen sequence on the whiteboard. (i.e. green, red, green, blue) The teacher points to the first colored egg on the board and that group of eggs plays for 4 beats. Continue through the sequence with each egg getting the same number of beats. Then allow one student from each of the groups to rearrange the eggs on the board creating a different sound piece. These compositions could also be taped.
  12. To conclude the lesson, let each student make an egg “Maraca” to take home by filling it with their choice of rice, beans, pebbles, or salt.


Assessment: Teacher observation and checklist.

  • Did the students make a distinction in the sound of their egg by linking with others whose eggs sounded the same?
  • Did the students work cooperatively in small groups?
  • Were the students able to adequately describe the sounds of their eggs?
  • Did the students choose an unpitched instrument that had a sound similar to their eggs?
  • Did the students exhibit understanding of the vocabulary for dynamics by lining up in the correct order of piano, mezzo-forte, and forte?
  • How well did the students interpret the graph?
  • Did the students follow the beat pattern and form of the compositions created at the whiteboard?

Supplemental information


  • When using this plan with Kindergarten, the graph can be omitted. Music vocabulary can be merely soft, louder, and loudest.
  • This lesson may be taught as one in a series dealing with tone color. I taught a lesson on environmental sounds, then vocal sounds, followed by the sounds of unpitched instruments, and ended the series with this lesson.
  • Since this lesson involves the use of plastic eggs, it is perfect for lessons near the Easter season.
  • This plan has been adapted from ideas shared in workshops and district meetings.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Music Education (2001)

Grade 1

  • Goal 2: The learner will play on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
    • Objective 2.01: Recognize and play pitched and unpitched instruments.
    • Objective 2.02: Play with increased rhythmic accuracy.
    • Objective 2.05: Respond to the cues of a conductor.
  • Goal 4: The learner will compose and arrange music within specified guidelines.
    • Objective 4.04: Use a variety of sound, notational, and technological sources to compose and arrange music.

Grade 2

  • Goal 2: The learner will play on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
    • Objective 2.01: Play with increased pitch accuracy.
    • Objective 2.04: Play expressively with appropriate dynamics.
    • Objective 2.06: Respond to the cues of a conductor.
  • Goal 6: The learner will listen to, analyze, and describe music.
    • Objective 6.03: Discuss music using appropriate terminology.


  • Goal 2: The learner will play on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
    • Objective 2.01: Recognize and play pitched and unpitched instruments.
    • Objective 2.05: Respond to the cues of a conductor.