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Writing: Sentences & Paragraphs

Fluency Activity: A Sound Effects Script

 

Today's Snack: What makes a more delicious sound than biting into a crisp apple? Eat one just as noisily as you can, and gulp a glass of milk as loudly as you can, without spilling!

 

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Supplies:

 

Photocopy the script, below, or project it on a big screen

 

Lined writing paper and No. 2 pencil for each student

 

One tape recorder and blank tape for each student,

or if not available,

set up groups of two or three students

 

In advance, look at the room and list the props already there: cupboard doors that squeak when opened, telephone, faucet, keyboard for typing, lightswitch, scuffing carpet with a foot, pulling a chair out on a hard-surface floor, etc.

 

Scavenge sound-making props:

paper cups (slam together or use as a drum), pitcher of water, straws for slurping, pop bottle for blowing into like a foghorn, duck call, car keys, blender, toothbrush, potato chips, raw carrot, basketball, mini piano keyboard, bell, hammer and wood, saw, wire whisk and bowl, tapes of music, sandpaper, electric shaver, music box, playing cards, pillow, book.

 

There are CD's full of sound effects

available on the commercial market for not too much money

that would add a lot of fun and variety to this activity;

you will need a CD player if you choose to use

a sound effects library on CD

 

 

 

Good sentences and paragraphs have a certain "flow" to them. We call it "fluency."

 

One of the best ways to write fluently is to be thinking about the imaginary sounds that your writing will create in the mind of your reader.

 

Sound adds a lot to the communication power of language. Sound effects and background music are a huge part of any motion picture. The advantage to writing is that you can create the effects of sound in your writing without actually having to create those sounds!.

 

You simply write words that trigger your reader's imagination to think about those sounds. It's very pleasing, and makes them want to read more.

 

Choose one or more of these sounds and act it out just with your body - no props. If you are with other students, take turns, and give each other feedback:

 

a rooster's crow

a dog lapping up water

Granny's kiss

pop pouring over ice cubes

thunder

motorcycle revving up

hiccup

a bomb dropping

lawnmower

cow mooing

brakes squeal

turn a book's page

ripping paper

 

See how quickly and accurately those sounds communicated meaning? You can write with more "sound effects" to benefit from that communication power, too.

 

Now experiment, as a group, with different sounds you can make simply with your body:

 

whimper

yell

the sound of a plane crashing

firecracker going off

whistle

pop a finger off the inside of your cheek

cluck your tongue

crow like a rooster

bark like a dog

bird calls

slam a fist into your hand

 

Experiment with sounds you can make with simple props:

 

scratch pen on paper

tap pen on table

tap pen on wastebasket

pound upside-down wastebasket like a drum

poke hole in paper with pen

crumble paper into ball and use pen as bat

 

Try listing humorous sounds and the situation in which they might be used:

 

a cuckoo clock for when a football player has been tackled hard

the sound of a lightbulb turning on with a pullstring when someone gets an idea

a scary, low chord of piano music for the climax of a scary story

sickeningly high falsetto voices in melodrama: "Our hero!"

lonely cricket chirping after a joke that falls flat

 

Now ask one or more volunteer students to act out a longer sequence of sounds, to test the communication power of sounds. Keep what you're doing a secret so the other students have to guess. All the other students should shut their eyes. No peeking! Now one student should make three sounds, using his or her own body, and/or props in the room. Suggestion:

 

Tromp loudly up to the front of the room,

open a squeaky cupboard door,

and ring a bell.

 

Everyone can open their eyes now and talk about what just happened, what they heard, and what it might mean.

 

Now let's get into pairs or small groups, and create a story using at least 10 different sound effects. You can use both words and sound effects to tell your story. You can use the props to make sounds, or sounds with your own body. Keep it nice and polite, please! Imagine that the Queen of England is in the audience, so don't do anything rude, please.

 

OK, OK, we KNOW you can make funny body sounds. So on the count of 3, everybody can make as many funny body sounds as they would like, for 10 seconds, and then that will be the end of that.

 

:>)

 

If tape recorders are available, it's fun to tape-record these stories in a separate room, and then play them back for the larger group.

 

But if tape recorders are not available, simply lay out the available sound-making props from today's supply list, and let each pair or group create a story using at least 10 different sounds.

 

First, each student, or group, should start making a list of their favorite sound effects. Show them the props to give them more ideas.

 

Each student, pair or group should brainstorm story idea topics and different types of story themes, and the sounds that generally go with them. Examples:

 

Mystery: footsteps, creaky door, woman's scream

 

Jungle tale: Tarzan yell, ape noise, lion roar

 

Humor sketch: funny laughter, snorts, knee-slapping, cowbell

 

Once you've come up with a story idea and theme, develop the story, with a beginning, middle and end. Keep it short, but sweet!

 

Following the audio script format, below, each student, pair or team should write a script with at least 10 sounds.

 

Now perform for your adoring audience!

 

 

 

Writing a Sound Effects Script

 

To write an audio script: first, in one sentence, write who is the main character, what is the problem or situation, and what happens to resolve it. Make it clear whether your story's tone is funny, scary, sad, mysterious, heroic, or whatever.

 

This description is just to keep you on track; you won't perform it in your script. It's just for starters!

 

As you plan your story, divide your paper into two parts, with the sound effects off to the left, and spoken words to the right.

 

See the sample script, below.

 

It helps to have any props you need lined up, in the order that you will need to use them. Try to avoid "dead time," while you're fiddling around making the sound effects. Try for a really good "flow" to your performance - that's what keeps audience interest high.

 

--------------------

SAMPLE AUDIO SCRIPT

A Trip to the Dentist

 

SOUND EFFECT: VOICEOVER:

 

KID

Car starting and engine running I started worrying the second we got in the car to go to my

dentist, Dr. Disaster. Pain! Suffering! Agony! Cavities!

 

Ominous piano chord, followed by scream

 

MOM (in typical Mom voice)

Oh, lighten up! He's NOT going to HURT you!!!!

 

About five kids' voices, really high like fairies,

retort: "YEAH . . . RIGHT!!!"

 

 

 

KID

ROLL OF DUCT TAPE UNWRAPPING FOR

SEVERAL SECONDS But I worried anyway. I worried about how they turn you

into a paper MUMMY with that thing around your neck and

that bozo apron . . .

 

. . . and start picking at your teeth with those sharp picks . . .

CLINK SCREWDRIVER AGAINST METAL

. . . and oooh, that DRILL . . .

 

CHAIN SAW STARTS UP

 

MOM

Will you CUT it OUT??? Look, we're here. Now you

behave! He's NOT going to hurt your teeth! Now, get in

there!

 

TEETH CHATTERING

 

"DOOM" MUSIC ON THE PIANO

 

SEVERAL SECONDS OF SILENCE

 

KID

Look, Mom! No cavities!!! Why did I ever worry?

FIRST LINE OF "HALLELUJAH CHORUS"

 

THEN SEVERAL KIDS GARGLE

AT THE END WITH A HIGH, ANGELIC

"AHHHHHH-MEN!"

 

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com Writing 2011

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