Musically Montessori:#8 Loud & Quiet With Sand Blocks & Puppets in the Montessori Music Room!


Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius Photography for Magical Movement Company

***©Carolyn Lucento 2015. You are warmly welcome to use any of the ideas I have posted here, however, the content & photos are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without my permission.

This is the eighth article in my series: "Musically Montessori, A Sequential Curriculum for Everyday Music." You can read the previous articles here.

After voice and rhythm warm-ups, it's time for children to have some fun with the dynamics of music! The concepts of loud & quiet are always a big hit with the little ones. 

Recently, in our Montessori music classes, the children have been REFINING THEIR SKILLS in: 

  • focused listening 
  • fine motor & body coordination 
  • playing music in unison
  • following a "conductor"
For these fun activities with loud and quiet in music you will need these MATERIALS:

  1. A pair of musical sand blocks for each child
  2. "My Sand Blocks" song from Kindermusik International
  3. Cd of Beethoven's Fifth
  4. Lion hand puppet
  5. Mouse finger puppet

My favorite instruments for showing the music concepts of Loud and Quiet are the lovely sounding sand blocks. 

Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius for Magical Movement Company

Child size sand blocks are so interesting to young children, especially if they have the Montessori Sandpaper Letters & Numbers in their environment. Learn more about these Montessori materials by clicking this link: Sandpaper letters at Montessori World.

The sand blocks that I like best are from Kindermusik International at this link: Sand blocks from Kindermusik

I like these because they are small, have a sturdy handle and they are not too scratchy! (since little fingers will, of course, want to feel the sandpaper part!)

Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius for Magical Movement Company

Children must really listen closely to hear the delicate sound that these sand blocks make when rubbed together. So, when the child/ren are first introduced to sand blocks I demonstrate how to hold the handles, then how to play them very quietly by rubbing the sandpaper sides together, then very loudly by clapping them together!

Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius for Magical Movement Company

For a simple MONTESSORI 3-PERIOD LESSON you can:

INVITE the children to listen for quiet and loud.

First Period
RUB sandblocks together and say: "Quiet"
TAP sandblocks together and say: "Loud"
Second Period
ASK children, "Am I playing loud or quiet?" while you play the sand blocks by rubbing quietly. Then, ask, "Am I playing quiet or loud?" while you tap them together loudly. (It's good to spend some time with this period and make it fun by surprising the children by playing a certain way over and over to "trick" them!)
Third Period
PLAY SAND BLOCKS and ask the children, "Which way was I playing the sand blocks?"


A great song for the children to play loudly and quietly is the song, "My Sand Blocks" from  Kindermusik International. You can listen and download the song at this link: Play Kindermusik My Sand Blocks.

After plenty of practice playing along with this lovely little song, I tell the children we will now listen to some music that is sometimes loud and sometimes quiet. 
I say:

 "Rub your ears gently around the edges to get them sensitive for listening, and then get your sand blocks ready to play quietly (rubbing) when the music is quiet, and loudly (tapping) when the music is loud."
A great classical selection that really shows LOUD and QUIET in the music is Beethoven's Fifth! When, we listen to the music, I model to the children how to play quietly or loudly according to the dynamics of the song.

Here's a nice rendition of Beethoven's Fifth at this link:Beethoven's Fifth at Amazon. Usually, the first minute or so of the music is enough for preschoolers to enjoy this activity. 


I have also added some fun with puppets as "Conductors" for loud and quiet in the music. 
First, I show the children my lion puppet, making a point to show the children how my hand fits into the puppet and that's how it moves. 
Then, I say, "If this were a real lion, would it make a quiet roar like this? roar  Or would it be a loud roar? Like this: ROAR!? 

I like this friendly little lion puppet from Folkmanis. Here's that link: Folkmanis Little Lion at Amazon.

Next, I show the children my little mouse puppet, and ask them if a real mouse would make a loud SQUEAK or a quiet squeak!?

This adorable little finger puppet is also at Amazon. Here's that link: Folkmanis mouse puppet at Amazon.

The little ones really enjoy the fun of these silly questions! 
Next, we play the "LOUD & QUIET SINGING GAME". 

I show the children how to sing "Ahhh" in their prettiest singing voices. Next we sing this loudly, and then, softly.

I have a puppet on each hand. I hide them behind my back and when I show the lion the children sing their "Ahhh" in a loud voice. Likewise, when I show the mouse puppet, the children sing "Ahhh" in their quiet singing voice. (You can show the sandpaper letter "o" for the children to get the sound correct!)

It's great fun to EXTEND this activity by actually singing a familiar song (ex: ABC's) along with the puppet "conductors" and the children adjust their voices appropriately! 

Of course, this game can ALSO BE EXTENDED TO THE PLAYING  of sand blocks (or other rhythm instruments, too). When I show the children the lion puppet, they play loudly and when they are shown the mouse puppet, they play quietly. 

If your group is small enough, each child can have a turn at hiding the puppets behind the back and "conducting" the game for the other children to follow!

I am very happy that you are visiting my blog and I hope you have gotten some ideas for fun activities with your child/ren! You'll find more ideas at my past posts, including MAKING FORTE & PIANO SHAKER EGGS by clicking these links: 
The Music Elements of Forte & Piano
and this one:
Music Activities from the Montessori Music Shelf
And, here too: 
Focused Listening & the Silence Game.

This article is one from my series: Musically Montessori, A Sequential Curriculum for Everyday Music. I changed the approach of this installment (#8) to a more conversational format, and I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Do you prefer the more structured Montessori-style "Lesson Plans" of #1-#7? Or do you like the more informal approach of this article #8 with less emphasis on the "plan & rationale" of the lesson? 

Please feel free to leave a comment or two if you have a moment!

You can read more great Montessori articles from bloggers all over the world at Living Montessori Now from the Deb Chitwood's Link-up: "Montessori Mondays", where I post each Monday. Here's that link: Montessori Mondays.

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