This week’s activities take examples from recent news to encourage pupils to think about the sounds that are all around them and the power of community

This week’s primary enrichment activity gets pupils to think about sounds, using the example of scientists who are recording the noises from under the ice shelf in the Antarctic sea.

This week’s secondary enrichment activity uses the example of a pensioner who has successfully put up a roadblock on his street, to get pupils to consider community and citizenship.

***Primary Enrichment*** KS2: Listening, and applying knowledge and understanding

Pupils should be taught:

  • to listen with attention to detail and to internalise and recall sounds with increasing aural memory
  • how the combined musical elements of pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture and silence can be organised within musical structures and used to communicate different moods and effects

Listening to quiet places

Some places in the world are still ‘human free’. One of those places is beneath the ice in the Antarctic Ocean. Using hydrophones, German scientists have enabled a live feed to stream sound that can be heard anywhere by a listener connected to the internet − what it sounds like to be swimming beneath the ice of the Antarctic Ocean. They intend to use the recordings as an acoustic baseline, a standard to measure other ocean sounds against. This live stream is recorded via hydrophones attached to ‘an autonomous, wind and solar powered observatory located on the Ekström ice shelf’. The observatory is called PerenniAL Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean (PALAOA).

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

  • If you could arrange for a microphone to feed a satellite and stream sounds via the internet to your computer, where would you want the microphone to be placed?
  • Would you want it to be in the desert, in the sky, under the sea, at the bottom of a river, in caves or lakes or perhaps in a loaf of bread?
  • Would you like to listen to the sounds you can hear on the moon or outside the International Space Station?
  • What would you use the sounds for that you collected?
  • What would you want people to feel when they listened to your choice?
  • What would be a calming noise to listen to?
  • How could you use the noise from the place you choose to help people understand the world they live in?
  • In what way do you think the sounds of ‘quiet’ places would help you create music about these places?


Listening to sounds from places without humans or human activity.

Going further

Produce a musical score or plan for a piece of music about quiet places and, perhaps with others or just by yourself, perform the music to an audience. If you have suitable recording equipment and support, your children could record the sounds in spaces and places around them, for example cupboards or drawers, empty rooms or the school overnight when it is empty of people. The sounds could be played − edited if necessary − as sound poems. The sounds could also be used as the inspiration for dance or performances.

PALAOA − Transmissions live from the ocean below the Antarctic ice can be heard by going to the website below and following the ‘listening’ instructions here.

To learn more about PALAOA here.

The whale song project − listen to whales here.

Underwater sounds recorded at Glacier Bay here.

Learning and teaching Scotland.

Pupils gain musical knowledge, understanding and skill by actively taking part in musical experiences. Having learned in this way, pupils are free to take control as the performer, the inventor, the listener, and are prepared for a lifetime of musical experience and enjoyment.

International Baccalaureate.

Taught curriculum − How best will we learn?

This programme engages students actively in their own learning. The intention is to support their efforts to construct meaning from the world around them by drawing on their prior knowledge, providing provocation through new experiences, and providing time and opportunity for reflection and consolidation.

***Secondary Enrichment***

KS4 Citizenship.

Knowledge and understanding about becoming informed citizens

Students should be taught about:

  • the legal and human rights and responsibilities underpinning society and how they relate to citizens, including the role and operation of the criminal and civil justice systems
  • the origins and implications of the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding
  • the work of parliament, the government and the courts in making and shaping the law
  • the importance of playing an active part in democratic and electoral processes
  • how the economy functions, including the role of business and financial services
  • the opportunities for individuals and voluntary groups to bring about social change locally, nationally, in Europe and internationally


A pensioner has built a breeze block wall across Foryd Road in Kinmel Bay, Conwy. Ian Stewart, 69, who built the wall, reportedly said to the BBC that ‘horrendous’ traffic using their road was a danger to residents.

‘The cars would race past here at 50mph [80.5 kph] and we’ve had 10 years of absolute hell,’ said Mr Stewart’s wife Norma. ‘The road is only 11-ft [3.35m] wide and the volume of traffic coming through here was ridiculous.’

Conwy Council said a ‘stopping-up order’ was granted by Llandudno magistrates .The order means the road is now ‘un-adopted’ by the local authority, and as a consequence of this action it is no longer a public highway.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

  • Imagine the street you live on − think of the advantages and disadvantages of living where you live.
  • Imagine that your street is blocked off and no traffic is allowed to drive through or park there.
  • What would happen in a day?
  • What would happen in a week?
  • What would happen in a year?
  • Would there be a financial benefit to the community you live in? If so, what would be a good use for any ‘windfall’ economic benefits for local residents?
  • What do you think would be the short-term effect and the longer-term effect on the lives of children living in the street?
  • List the benefits and drawbacks to help decide whether closing your street would be a beneficial thing or a harmful action.
Benefits from closure of road Loss through closure of road


Considering a moot point.

Going further

If you feel that a ‘stopping-up order’ for the street you live in would be a positive thing, consider how you would organise a meeting of those people who may want to make an application to your local authority. First, however, visit here to see an example form to apply for a ‘stopping-up order’.

If, on the other hand, you feel that the evidence suggests that closing the street to cars would be a negative thing, prepare a case to prevent such action. The cases for and against could then be made in a moot court discussion, with group members deciding who has made the most convincing case.

The full story ‘Residents block traffic with wall’ is here.

To learn more about a moot court here.

Linked Activity: If I could change one thing, Activity 71 (page 160) Enrichment Activities for Gifted Children, Optimus Education. For more information click here.

Learning and teaching. Scotland 2002,
describes citizenship as being about:

the exercise of rights and responsibilities within communities at local, national and global levels; and making informed decisions, and taking thoughtful and responsible action, locally and globally.

International Baccalaureate.

Group 3 Individuals and society

This e-bulletin issue was first published in April 2008

About the author: John Senior is the author of Enrichment Activties for G&T Pupils. He is a teacher with 26 years’ experience of teaching Gifted and Talented children, working with parents and carers as a consultant on high ability, and peer mentoring.