Skip Discover Education Main Navigation

Spotlight on Strategies:Surround sound

Students close their eyes listening to a looped sound effect, visualising what the sound brings to mind. With their eyes open, they then answer questions relating to the senses.

Big idea

Hearing a few notes of sound can transport us back in time to an important moment or take us to faraway places that we find comforting. It is generally recognised that sight and sound are relied upon more heavily than the other senses. Think of the effect sound has on the emotional reaction to watching a film.

Sound is often the first indication of an emergency. Essentially, sound is an underutilised tool in the classroom. By taking away the sense of sight for a moment and allowing students to focus on the sounds themselves, we allow students to use their creative imaginations to visualise situations and travel back in time and all across the globe.

Overview of strategy



audio segment or sound effect file related to curriculum content, paper, pen/pencil

  1. As students enter the classroom have a sound effect playing. Tip: set the sound to loop, so it continues playing as long as needed
  2. When students take their seats, have them close their eyes and visualise what the sound brings to mind.
  3. With the sound still looping, ask them to open their eyes and answer the following questions:
    • What do you hear?
    • What do you know about what you are hearing?
    • How do these sounds make you feel?
    • How do you feel the people in this situation are feeling?
    • What do you wonder about this event?

Additional questions:

    • How can you replicate this sound?
    • Can you draw this sound?

Download questions template

Sum it up

This strategy encourages focussed thinking and imagination. To wrap the activity up, ask students to reflect as a whole group by discussing questions and sharing connections they have made about the sounds they've heard.

As students discuss, the teacher can listen for misconceptions they may have as well as gauge the background knowledge students have about the topic.

More ideas
  • Pause and replay the sound several times to provide students time to think about what they're hearing.
  • Extend this activity by asking students to generate a written response to the class discussion.
  • Have students record their own sounds and give to each other to think about and respond to. 

Try another? Check out or view all.