Activation: SoundMapping Your World

by | Apr 21, 2021 | Environment, Lifestyle, Voices

One of my favorite ways to explore a backyard, neighborhood, or nearby park is to focus on only one of my senses to observe what Spring brings. This week when I wake up, there is a new songbird by my front door, her song has been silent for the winter and just as the grass glistens green, the birdsong returns. I sat today in the sun, on a warm cement block. I heard a dog barking off to my right, I felt surrounded by the chorus of frogs, cars drive by – the sound comes and goes, there is a constant hum of a mower behind me. A plane flies overhead. A bird calls from a tree. Next to my ear, I hear a buzz from a fly or a bee. Wind rushes pass nearly silently and my pages of my book rustle as blades of grass shake. A few birds trilling were soon overwhelmed by the traffic passing.

I found that sitting still in place intentionally listening to my surroundings, led to a deeper understanding and new observations in the mundane. 

In celebration of Earth Week, we invite you to join us in an observation of your world through sound with an  activity called sound mapping. Here’s what you do:


1. Find a perfect spot outside to sit (yard, park, neighborhood, open space) 

2. Take 15 to 30 minutes to tune your ears into your surroundings. What do you hear? (could be manufactured or natural) 

3. While you are listening, have paper and a writing implement to draw your observations and create a sound map. 

What direction is the sound coming from?
Where is the sound located?
Who is making the sound?
How loud is the sound?

4. After finishing a soundmap to your liking, take 5 minutes to reflect.

Did you make new observations?
What new thing(s) did you notice?
What was your favorite sound? Have you heard that sound in that location before?

Here’s a sound map I recently did in my backyard:

Sound Map

We’d love to see your sound maps! Feel free to share them with us on social @turninggreenorg!


  • Margaret Cooper

    Margaret is a UC Davis alumna with a degree in Environmental Science and Management and Spanish minor. She is driven by youth empowerment, environmental education, and outdoor accessibility to address climate change in her community. She loves being part of the Turning Green community to build confident future leaders and advocates for environmental sustainability.