ACA Explorers – Blog

Wednesday Project 2: Vocals, Sound Waves, Paper Squawker

Today is Wednesday which means the special Explorers-only class in our new house, the Exploratorium!

Wednesday Project: Vowels Lesson.pdf

Michael helped Sophie get caught up with last week’s project, helping her set up and understand the flash cards and well as how the Leitner method works.

Then we used a combo of a projector and a white board to go over the day’s lesson on vowels and sound waves.

We reviewed consonants and places of articulation,

See the worksheets and Paper Squawker project, from Scientific American, after the jump!

Articulation Drawing

To drive home the concept of points of articulation, as well as explain why the mouth side profile diagram drawing I use actually makes sense…

Vowels Lesson: Articulation Drawing
Vowels Lesson: Articulation Drawing

This worked especially well when projected onto a white board.  We reviewed everything together and I was able to get them to understand the distinction between consonants blocking air flow with the tongue and vowels being all about letting the air flow more freely.  This really was driven home when they could draw the differences in the tongue shapes.

Places of Articulation: Reference

The second sheet is more a reference for them to have.

Vowels Lesson: Places of Articulation Reference
Vowels Lesson: Places of Articulation Reference

The Vowel Quadrangle

The key to understanding vowels is to understand the 4 (and later 8) cardinal vowels.  We practiced a lot repeating the words until everyone felt confident they understood just how the mouth shapes changes to produce different vowel sounds: open to closed, front to back.

Vowels Lesson: The Vowel Quadrangle
Vowels Lesson: The Vowel Quadrangle

Sound Waves and Scales, Reinforced by the Paper Squawker Project

The Paper Squawker Project, a project by Scientific American, helps relate vibrations and physical acoustics (size of hole changing pitch) to actual English vowels.

While we did do a cursory discussion on sound waves, really you could do an entire unit on the discussion.  A good enough introduction however, to at least get them thinking…

Vowels Lesson: Sound Waves and Scales
Vowels Lesson: Sound Waves and Scales

To Practice At Home

The rest of the time was spent building the paper squawkers and trying to get them to sound.  Much to my surprise, at first I was the only one able to make it sound convincingly.

Once I helped cut their diamond-shaped holes, made them a little smaller, and gave them better instruction for the lips, everyone was able to do it somewhat.  We will see if anyone improves by tomorrow…

Vowels Lesson: For Practice/Take Home
Vowels Lesson: For Practice/Take Home

Paper Squawker Project


The idea is to give them this packet tomorrow or Friday for them to do as homework.  See what they remember/how good of notes they were taking…

I also am kicking around the idea of making these Wednesday projects necessary to level up between Scholar and Philosopher.

As I told Molly, I really don’t want them progressing too rapidly, just based on attendance, if they aren’t learning to apply these study techniques or aren’t learning the finer details of English phonetics.

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