Can You Hear Me?
The human voice is amazing!
by Jill Fuller (revised, originally published in 2001)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To reflect on the wonder of the variety of expression possible with the human voice.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a mobile phone and someone whose voice the children will easily recognize – maybe another teacher or school receptionist. This person will need to call you briefly during the assembly to have a conversation with you. This conversation will need to be rehearsed beforehand.
- Prior to the assembly, check that your mobile phone's volume is turned up to full and the prearranged caller is ready. Your phone should ring as soon as the children are settled and you have begun to welcome them to the assembly. When your phone rings, appear to be flustered. Apologize to the children and explain that you had better answer it. Have the following conversation, making appropriate pauses for replies.
Hello, Mrs/Mr X.
What do you mean, how do I know it's you?
I know I can't see you.
Well, I know it's you by your voice.
Well, of course I can recognize your voice.
How? Well, it's . . . just your voice.
No, I don't think it's anyone else.
Do I think anyone else would recognize your voice?
Well, I'll ask the children.
- Explain that the person on the phone is surprised you can recognize his/her voice. Point out that he/she thinks nobody else will recognize him/her from the way that he/she sounds.
Ask if any of the children think that they can recognize the voice of the caller. Either put the phone on loudspeaker, so that all the children can hear the voice, or ask a few children to come forward and ask the caller some questions.
Ask the children if they agree that it really is Mrs/Mr X on the phone!
- Say goodbye to the caller, explaining that you will speak to them later as you really need to continue with the assembly.
- Turn the phone off and act as though you are thinking about something. After a moment, point out that, actually, it really is amazing that we can recognize people, even when they are not in the same room, just because of what their voices sound like.
Reflect on what has happened. Explain that you would not normally answer the phone during an assembly, but, as they might have guessed, that was a set-up as you wanted the children to think about voices.
Ask if they have ever thought how amazing it is that we can recognize voices on the phone. Have they ever considered that we each have a unique voice, which only belongs to us? Reflect on the pleasure of hearing voices from far away - relatives across the world, family when we are away from home, friends asking us to play.
- Ask the children if they have their own examples of recognizing a voice and it bringing them joy.
Time for reflection
In a moment of quiet, invite the children to reflect on the wonder of their voices. Remind them that each of their voices is unique and special.
We give thanks for the wonder of the human voice -
the miracle of so many different people, each with their own unique voice,
the way our voices can be used to help other people,
the way we can speak to each other and share our thoughts and feelings.
Thank you today for the gift of speech and the sound of the voices around us.
'You've got to move' (Come and Praise, 107, starting with verse 2, 'You've got to sing')