Making Music

A learning plan for the Kookaberry

Developed by
Primary Teacher
NSW Department of Education

Students will explore musical pitch and tune bottles using their Kookaberry.

Teacher background and information

Tuning bottles
  1. Line up the 8 bottles in a safe solid place.
  2. Fill up bottle one with water. Pour a little less water into bottle two; even less into bottle three; and so on, until bottle eight has only a very small amount of water.
  3. Now “tune” the bottles by pouring water out, or adding water, to match each bottle to the notes of the C major scale. Use a Kookaberry and the MoveMusic app to assist you with this.

The first bottle will be the lowest note, and bottle eight will be the highest note. The more water there is in the bottle, the lower the note it produces. This is because, when you hit the glass, both the glass and water vibrate. A larger volume of water makes a lower sound. Notice how larger musical instruments, like double basses, play low notes; and small musical instruments, like whistles, are very high-pitched.


The Kookaberry is a palm-sized self-contained microcomputer designed specifically for students and their teachers and is used in this lesson plan to enrich the teaching and learning experience. 


Hard copies of this lesson plan, plus resource documents such as the Kookaberry Quick Manual and descriptions of the app(s) required, can be downloaded by clicking on the links to the right. Please refer to these resources either online through this website or in hard-copy to gain familiarity before giving the lesson.


The programme files that are required to be present in the Kookaberry’s USB memory when running the app(s) used in this lesson plan can be found on the web page of the appropriate app. Click on the app at the end of this page to go to the app web page.


For the Class
For Each Student
For the Teacher
  • Glass jars or bottles
  • Jugs and funnels
  • Access to water
  • Drum sticks, pencils, spoons
  • Kookaberry, handle, USB lead and battery
  • Powered loudspeaker and connecting cable (optional)
  • Kookaberry, handle, USB lead and battery
  • Pre-tuned glass bottles representing the eight notes of the Major C scale

Lesson steps


Mount the Kookaberry and battery box into a 3D printed handle.

Have the students plug the powered loudspeaker accessory into plug P4 on the back of the Kookaberry.

Mount the loudspeaker onto the side of the handle with a small screw, or onto the front with Blu Tack.





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Going Further

Provide students with simple sheet music and ask them to play the notes using their Kookaberry.

Challenge students to use their Kookaberry to create a short piece of music. Students could write down the notes of their tune so that others can play along with them.

Diversity for learners

Extension suggestions
  • Allow students the option of tuning as many bottles as they can. It will take a significant amount of time to perfect the notes.
  • Ask students to attempt to play a song on their tuned bottles by ear or from memory.
  • Students could use their Kookaberry to tune other instruments.
  • Students could note the frequency shown on the Kookaberry for each note. How does the frequency change with notes of higher and lower pitch?
  • Ask students to tilt the Kookaberry left or right to change octave. What happens to frequency between equivalent notes on the C scale?
  • By momentarily pressing the C button, the pitch of notes will be varied (or modulated) by the movement of the Kookaberry and the C scale will no longer be in tune (Mod=On is shown on the display). Momentarily pressing the C button switches modulation off again (Mod=Off is shown). Notes can be played continuously by keeping the D button depressed.  Ask students what they notice about the pitch of notes when Mod=On and when Mod=Off as they move the Kookaberry about.
Support suggestions
  • Allow students to observe and experiment with the teacher’s tuned bottles. Ask students what they notice about the notes and the corresponding amount of water. Do they need less water or more water to make a high/low note?


Apps used in this learning plan

Peripherals used in this learning plan

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