Boston Children's Museum
308 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210
Using small drinking glasses filled with different amounts of water, you can give children direct experience with resonance and vibration as well as musical expression.
If it’s possible to provide enough spoons and glasses for each team of three to have 4 glasses, that is ideal for this activity. If not, you can give each team one glass, or you can engage children as a single large group. Fill each glass with a different amount of water. See the “Glass Xylophones: Tips and Songs” sheet for suggestions.
With a set of glasses in front of you, each with a different amount of water, ask your children what they think will happen if you gently tap a glass. What will happen if you tap a different glass? Will it make the same sound or will it be a higher or lower sound? What do they notice that is different about the glasses?
Can you make music with the glasses of water?
After 5-10 minutes, bring your students together in a group for a discussion. What did they discover? Do all of the glasses have the same pitch, or are some higher and some lower? Does it matter where on the glass they tap? This discussion should last no more than a few minutes.
Send your students back to experimenting, and hand out eyedroppers so that they can add or remove water in order to adjust the tone of the glasses. Ask them if they can come up with a song.