Synth Kits Garage Band

Synth Kits Garagee Band

Lesson Overview: Students will use Synth Kits to produce sounds, manipulate these sounds and record these sounds

Lesson Objectives: Collaborating in teams, students will be able to use circuits to produce a multitude of sounds that will be used together to produce music

You might want to consider giving each team a specific sound that they will be trying to create like in a real band.

Assessment Strategies: final project rubrics


4-PS3-3 Energy

Students who demonstrate understanding can:


Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.

4-PS3-4 Energy

Students who demonstrate understanding can:


Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.*

*You can also hit Music standards and CCSS in communication skills

Duration: 2-5 days depending on time and depth of project



Elementary (ages 8-10)
Middle School (ages 11-13)


General Education
littleBits Basics

STEP 1 : Toying Around with Sound

Video showing music being made using only toy instruments Great way to open up the discussion on making music and that we don’t need big expensive instruments. Have the students talk about what they know about making music and their background knowledge of bands, orchestras, etc. Get them really thinking about what we need to put together in order to make a band. You might also want to talk about writing the ‘music’ down, that real bands don’t just have a ‘free jam’ when they are recording.

STEP 2 : Experimental Music happens by Planned Mistakes!

Starting our own bands! Use a Design Thinking model to MindStorm ideas of what we actually need to build a band. What is Design Thinking: You will also need to create teams. I like to put together teams randomly to ensure that every one of my students gets a chance to work with everyone else in class. Teams that are not friends to start with usually do the best work. History: you might want to study the history of music in your area or a different culture to use as the focus of the music they are to produce. You might need to bring in examples or videos here. Again, here is a great opportunity to talk about what it means to be a ‘band’ and what is going to be required in order to perform. How are you going to break up teams and each team member’s role in the group. Again, having each team have a specific sound they are trying to produce will help with the focus: percussion, strings, keyboard, brass, woodwinds. Note: keyboard: students will default to playing sounds they know or are in the book: Mary had a little lamb, etc. Really encourage them to be experimental. Experimental music: Phillip Glass is a great example to play for students: or find your own artist to show them

STEP 3 : Making Sweet Music

Once a team has their focus students will use the Synth kits to produce all the ‘sounds/instrument’ that they will be using to produce their music. It is important to have them write down their ideas as they come up with them so they can go back and revisit them. Encourage them to not be ‘ok’ with what they come up with first. Reinvent, Reimagine, Recreate. Have them try to take what they come up with and make it better. Struggling: if you need to scaffold your groups you can always start with having them recreate a song they all know in order to get them working together. Then maybe coming up with a ‘new’ version of a classic song like Mary Had a Little Lamb

STEP 4 : How do you get to Carnigie Hall?

Students will need to practice their music together like any other band in the world. They are going to need to decide who will play which part before recording or playing a live performance. This can get a little chaotic so be prepared but students will be pretty engaged. You might want to build in several stops and have students present what they are creating and get feedback from other teams. This will build community and also help students build better presentations. It will also help inspire other groups to think differently. You can have students talk about their successes and where they’re struggling. You can also have them ask for help from other teams, this is a great way for the students to teach each other. Give them ownership. If you have the tools (phone, tablet, etc.) record their sounds so they can play them back and actually hear what they are making. This is an excellent way to have students critique their own work and make it better. Another version of this is have each team be their own band and have a competition: Battle of the Bands style!

STEP 5 : The Night of the Big Show!

Presentations. They should also write a reflection on this project. It is important to have them reflect on the process and what successes they had together. You can also have them make mechanical drawings of each ‘instrument’ that was created