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TPS Quarterly

The Library of Congress > Teachers > TPS Program > Learning Activity (Elem.)

Listen and Wonder: Is It a Chicken or a Boy?


In this activity, students perform a basic primary source analysis of a 1941 sound recording of a six-year-old mimic imitating different sounds. Intended for use in an inclusive environment, students consider all of the boy’s sound impressions to guess when and where he lived and discuss what his life might have been like. Lastly, the class develops a list of familiar sounds and performs a “soundtrack” of their own lives.


After completing the activity, students will be able to:

  • Perform a basic analysis of a primary source
  • Speculate about the life of a child in the past based on a primary source
  • Identify sounds that represent their lives today
  • Work collaboratively to create a “soundtrack” of these familiar sounds

Time Required

One class period

Recommended Grade Range



Culture, Folklife


Social Studies, Language Arts (Writing and Reading)


Standards & Benchmarks

Arts and Communication: Role of Culture

Standard 4. Understands ways in which the human experience is transmitted and reflected in the arts and communication

Grades K-4 History

Standard 1. Understands family life now and in the past, and family life in various place long ago

Language Arts: Writing

Standard 1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

Language Arts: Listening and Speaking

Standard 8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

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