Welcome to The EcoSonic Playground Project™!



What is the EcoSonic Playground Project?

Project Overview:
Equal access to arts education, adequate support for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education, and the fostering of sustainable practices are three pressing issues facing the global learning community. The EcoSonic (Ecology/Sound) Playground ™ aims to address these challenges through hands-on learning and fostering of cross-disciplinary knowledge. It focuses on working with children of all ages to design, build, and play large-scale, multi-player musical instrument structures made from reusable materials.  This project incorporates STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) skills, musical exploration, and wild creativity into an immersion learning curriculum. Each EcoSonic Playground Project ™ will be unique to the school community and children using it. Focused, differentiated, and developmentally appropriate teaching practice inform all aspects of this project.
What makes the EcoSonic Playground Project ™ unique is its adaptability. The curricular needs of your school or program come first as we design each project to fit those needs.


What We Do

STEAM Curriculum:
We have designed a four-pronged curriculum based on state educational standards separated into grade level groups. The curriculum applies foundational STEAM skills to experiential learning. Teachers can tailor the curriculum to their school or educational program, local community culture, and grade level. The curriculum includes:
  1. STEAM: An architectural process where children build scaffolding from blueprints. The scaffolding acts as an open structure on which to hang instruments.
  2. Environmental education: Includes a school and community outreach campaign to collect clean reusable materials, lessening the local carbon footprint.
  3. Design thinking: A process through which children design and build the instruments from the reusable materials they collect.
  4. Music education: Playing the instruments as part of a music curriculum focused on improvisation and composition.
The practice and application of knowledge throughout the project are also intended to foster adaptive skills such as critical thinking, communication, positive social interaction, and creative problem solving.
Free and equal access to musical play drives us.
We will come to you – either literally (if you happen to be in the Boston or surrounding areas) or figuratively (we are in the process of putting together EcoSonic Playground Project Kits to send to those of you who are interested but too far for us to reach you). All of our materials and/or time are at no or little cost to your school or program. These materials include:
  1. EcoSonic Playground Project building materials
  2. Curriculum guides for sustainable activities, designing, and building the instruments and scaffolding
  3. A comprehensive music curriculum
We are a grant- and donation-driven non-profit organization.


What You Will Find on This Website

On this website you will find examples of lessons and activities that you can use with any grade level. The site is divided into four sections:
  1. Sustainability: Activities for collecting clean reusable materials with community help.
  2. Instrument Design: Activities for experimenting with collected reusable materials, designing, and building instruments.
  3. Architecture: Activities for reading plans and building scaffolding.
  4. Music: Activities for using the instruments in improvisation and composition.


Who we are

We are professors at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who started planning together in the Fall of 2015.

Elissa Johnson-Green, Assistant Professor of Music and Music Education (a classical performer turned teacher)

Christopher Lee, Visiting Lecturer of Music (Music Theory and Composition – also plays a mean drum set)


For more information about The EcoSonic Playground Project, see:




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