Wildlife soundscapes

Grade All Grades • 60 minutes

Created by Caitlin Davey on 29/3/17


In this lesson students will explore the sounds of protected environments and begin to consider how we can restore and protect animal habitats.

Prep Work

Check out our Teacher Guide for tips and tricks! 

Review the completed Scratch lesson here.

The Lesson

This lesson was made in partnership with

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We’ve built a series of tutorial videos to help you learn how to teach Canada Learning Code lessons! Each lesson is broken down into its own video tutorial and accompanies the step by step instructions on the lessons page.


Watch this video about wolves and think about how ecological processes affect many different animals. As a class or in groups write a KW(D)L chart (what I know, what I want to know, what I can do, and later what I learned chart) about endangered animals in Canada, with focus on the Caribou. 

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Explore the material and links in the References section on the right side of this page for additional material about this topic.


The boreal woodland caribou is threatened with extinction in every province and territory. 

These shy and highly secretive animals need large, intact swaths of forests free of roads and industrial disturbance to avoid predation and survive. Caribou are barometers for healthy forests; if caribou aren't doing well, that means our forests are in trouble. 

Across Canada we need healthy forests to help sequester carbon, regulate climate and mitigate against floods, to name a few of the ecological services that they provide. To date, at least half of the boreal caribou range has been lost due to activities that have disturbed and fragmented their forest habitat. 

All of the woodland caribou populations overlapping oil and gas development in Alberta are highly imperilled, shrinking by 50% every 8 years.


  • In groups have students research and document caribou facts including their habitats, behaviour, and how people can help protect caribou populations through environmental stewardship.
    • Have them compare city noise to forest noise and think about the difference between the two soundscapes.
  • Begin by having students gather in a circle and instructing them that every person in the circle will add a noise (i.e. a clap, a stomp, a sound effect, etc. ) to create the sound of the forest
    • This activity could be run with students eyes closed or open
    • Once everyone has added their sound now as students to add a sound that reflects an underground habitat in the forest
  • Once the activity has been run ask students to share what it sounded like. 
    • Have they been in a forest before? Did they feel like they were in the forest? 
    • How does it sound similar/different to the noises they hear in their city or town? 
    • Did it help to close their eyes and imagine the forest? 
    • What was it like to add a sound in?
  • As a class students will use Scratch to combine all the information they now know about caribou into an interactive soundscape.
  • Review the Sprites, backgrounds, and sounds (this one is especially important!) in the project.
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  • We’ll begin with the daytime soundscape. To start let’s click on the backdrop and we want the daytime backdrop. Let’s begin by adding the events block when green flag clicked. Events blocks are very useful in Scratch because they allow our programs to run based on some input either from the user or from the program itself.
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  • Next add a looks block switch backdrop to and we’ll set it to daytime background by clicking on the dropdown arrow and selecting that backdrop. 
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  • When our daytime sounds are finished playing we want to switch to night to do this we’ll add a sounds block play until done. 
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  • Then to tell when daytime is done we’ll add an events block broadcast and create a new broadcast message that reads ‘switch to night’ 
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  • Still within our backdrop we’ll receive the broadcast by adding an events block when I receive 
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  • And then we’ll add a looks block switch backdrop to and set this to the night backdrop 
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  • Finally, we can start play our night-time sound effects by adding a sound block play sound ‘forest night’ 
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  • Next click on the caribou sprite. In the caribou sprite we’ll add the events block when this sprite is  clicked. 
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  • To begin creating our soundscape we’ll add a sound block play sound to our caribou sprite so that the sound a caribou makes will play when the player clicks on the caribou sprite.
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  • Test your program out! You should hear the caribou clicking. Caribou have different sounds they make you may want to change the sound of the caribou in your soundscape or even record your own! 
  • Switch to the next animal sprite.
  • Some animals you may want to show up in the daytime and others at night. To have an animal appear in the daytime add the events block when background switched to daytime and show the sprite. 
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  • And after that add the looks show block. 
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  • To create the sound for this animal add a events block when this sprite clicked.
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  • And then add the sound block play sound and select the animal sound you want to play when the sprite is clicked. You can even record your own sounds! Finally, to hide a daytime animal at night add an events block when backdrop switches to night.
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  • And then hide the animal in the night-time. 
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  • For a nighttime animal we’ll write a program that is almost opposite to the one we just wrote for the daytime animal. Start by adding an events block when backdrop switches to daytime. Then, we’ll hide this nighttime animal by adding a looks hide block. 
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  • Creating the animal noise is the same. To do this add an events block when this sprite is clicked. 
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  • Then a sound block to play the sound. 
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  • Finally, add an events block when backdrop switches to night and show our animal.
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  • Show the animal by using a looks show block. 
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  • Continue to follow add code for daytime and nighttime animals as you like!
  • Give your soundscape a try. Have students share what is similar or different between the soundscape they made in groups and the one they created in code. How can they add animals, sounds, or scenes to make it their own? 


Have students write a reflection on the effects of human activity on animal life.
  • What did they learn from creating a rich soundscape in Scratch?
  • What would their forest sound like if there were fewer or even no animals?
  • What did students learn in their research on ensuring that the range of caribou isn’t further destroyed? Complete the KW(D)L chart and have students share what they learned about the Caribou and other endangered animals in Canada. Add any additional comments to D (do) section if students have new ideas about what they can do to protect endangered species.


  • Have students research other animals on the endangered species list in Canada to create soundscapes for those animals' environments.
  • Have students think about how they can incorporate more of the information they learned about caribou into their programs.

Suggested Lessons

Intended Province:


  • Subjects:
  • Science

Key Curriculum Concepts

  • Living things are diverse, can be grouped, and interact in their ecosystems.
  • Represent and communicate ideas and findings in a variety of ways, such as diagrams and simple reports, using digital technologies as appropriate
  • Identify positive and negative impacts that different kinds of human activity have on animals and where they live, form an opinion about one of them, and suggest ways in which the impact can be minimized or enhanced