Story soundtrack

Created by Judith Brocklehurst

What will we create today?

A weird and wonderful soundtrack for a story. To start off, you’ll explore sounds that can be made with all kinds of everyday objects.

You will need:

Items from around your home or school, such as...

  • Metal bowls, cups or something similar
  • Foil
  • Plastic bags
  • Elastic bands
  • Glass of water, straw or piece of hose pipe
  • Marbles
  • Dried beans.

Let’s start!


Did you know that some books can speak?

The Speaking Picture Book is one of the first noisy books for children. When you pull one of the cords at the side, you’ll hear the animal in each picture ‘speak’. The cockerel cries ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’! Even though it’s over a hundred years old, amazingly it still makes most of its noises. Take a listen – what do you think?

Some books definitely can’t speak – but maybe you can make up sounds to go with the stories and pictures!

We’ve picked out three books for you – take a look at The Circus (by Samuil Marshak, illustrated by Vladimir Lebedev), Haunted House (by Jan Pieńkowski) and Captain Slaughterboard (by Mervyn Peake).

The Circus (T︠S︡irk) by Samuil Marshak, illustrated by Vladimir Lebedev

The Circus (T︠S︡irk) by Samuil Marshak, illustrated by Vladimir Lebedev

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Usage terms Public Domain

Haunted House by Jan Pieńkowski, Tor Lokvig and John Walmsley

Pages 1-2 of Haunted House by Jan Pieńkowski, Tor Lokvig and John Walmsley. The pop-out staircase has green slime running down it. The eyes of a portrait on the wall move when a sliding tab is pulled.

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Usage terms © Jan Pieńkowski. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
Held by© Jan Pieńkowski

Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor by Mervyn Peake: early draft manuscript with original artworks

Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor by Mervyn Peake: early draft manuscript with original artworks

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Usage terms © SKETCHBOOK COMPRISING COMPLETE PROTOTYPE FOR CAPTAIN SLAUGHTERBOARD, FROM THE VISUAL ARCHIVE OF MERVYN PEAKE (BRITISH LIBRARY) reprinted by permission of Peters Fraser & Dunlop ( on behalf of the Estate of Mervyn Peake. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.

We’re going to use these books as the basis for your own story soundtracks! Here’s how…

Make some noise!

Your materials - metal bowl, glass of water, elastic band, dried lentils and beans, foil

1. Find materials that make a sound when touched or moved around in a metal bowl.

There are ideas in the ‘You will need’ list above – but you might have others!

Spread the materials out on a table.

Dried lentils poured into a metal bowl

2. What sounds can you make?

Play with the materials and the metal bowl to find out all of the different sounds that can be made with them.

What do the noises sound like? Do they remind you of an animal, the weather, a machine?

3. Look back at the three books.

Think about which sounds might go with different parts of each story.

Use our questions below to explore the books and find ideas.

Close-up of the Haunted House bathroom, with a monster bursting out of the wall

Haunted House

What sounds do the spiders and the mice make running around the house?

What sound does the monster make when it crashes through the wall or rummages in the cupboard?

Close-up of the Haunted House kitchen, with an octupus washing up in the sink

Haunted House

What can you use to make noises like the octopus washing up in the sink?

How many different sounds can you make just in the haunted house’s kitchen?

Close-up of the Haunted House attic, showing a large bat flying out of the ceiling

Haunted House

Try making lots of very quiet rustling noises up in the attic. What could be hiding up there?

Close-up illustration of a clown jumping in the air and chairs toppling around him

The Circus

What sound would the clown make when he jumps in the air?

What do the performers’ banjos and guitars sound like? Beat a rhythm for the musicians to follow.

Close-up of an illustration of an acrobat riding a monocycle

The Circus

Can you make a whirring sound like the wheel on the acrobat’s monocycle?

How many different sounds would the audience make?

Elastic band around a metal bowl

Captain Slaughterboard

Look at the fantastical beasts – all dreamt up by Mervyn Peake. Would they oink like a pig, trumpet like an elephant, or moo like a cow?

Can you make the sounds? They might be out of this world!

A piece of hosepipe in a glass of water

Captain Slaughterboard

The creatures all live on an island, surrounded by the sea. What sounds might you find there?

Foil in a metal bowl

4. It’s time to play your story soundtrack!

For each book or page arrange the materials in order. Read or look at the story while making the sound effects.

And there you have it! A story soundtrack, totally unique to you.

A marble in a metal bowl

5. Want to keep exploring?

Use the sounds you’ve created to make up your own new story… or turn another story you know into a soundtrack!

Information for teachers

Key Stage: SEND, Key Stage 1 and 2

Subject(s): English, Music

Estimated time: 30 minutes to an hour

Aim: To create a soundtrack in response to a story using everyday objects and materials.

Learning objectives: Engagement with narratives. Interacting with materials. Concentrating on images.

Teacher involvement:

  • Guiding and reading to keep the task on track
  • Facilitate group working
  • To extend the activity, use the sounds of the materials you have found to make up new stories. You could record these sounds on sound tiles/buttons or a phone to allow easier access for students with PMLD.

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