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SoundBites: Mini audio storytelling activities for teens and pre-teens

Students across the country are home from school, and some are looking for creative ways to fill their days. KUOW’s RadioActive Youth Media is excited to share 12 bite-sized audio storytelling activities for teens and pre-teens.

These self-directed activities take about 30 minutes to complete, and can be done in any order either alone or with a partner. If you're looking for a place to start, our favorites are #11: Short Lists and #8: Audio Scavenger Hunt. We hope you engage in whatever way feels meaningful to you. To share your work and join the community conversation on social media, use the hashtag #RASoundBites.

What is RadioActive Youth Media? RadioActive Youth Media is an award-winning radio journalism program for teens at KUOW Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. We offer year-round introductory, advanced, and community programs related to audio storytelling and radio journalism. Young people's voices aren't heard enough in the media - we're here to change that!

I want more! Find more information about audio storytelling and radio journalism at NPR Training and Transom.org. You can learn about making your own podcast from start to finish with the Radio Rookies DIY Toolkit and Starting Your Podcast: A Guide For Students from NPR. And for weekly creative audio prompts sent straight to your inbox, we love the Audio Playground newsletter by Chicago audio producer and educator Sarah Geis.


ACTIVITY #12: Audio tours

  • TOPIC: Audio recording
  • GUIDING QUESTION: What stories might be best told in the form of a tour?

If you gave a guided tour of the street you live on, what stories would you share? What would folks learn about you? If your little siblings gave a tour of the same street, how might they do it differently than you? In this activity, you’ll listen to examples of audio tours, and record your own guided tour of a place you know well.

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SoundBites Activity #12 - Audio tours

In this activity, you’ll listen to examples of audio tours, and record your own guided tour of a place you know well.


ACTIVITY #11: Short lists

  • TOPIC: Audio recording
  • GUIDING QUESTION: Can you make a compelling audio story out of nothing but a list?

“Listicles” are all the rage over at BuzzFeed and other print outlets. Can you make a compelling audio story out of nothing but a list? In this activity, you’ll listen to examples of Short List stories, and then record your own.

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SoundBites Activity #11 - Short lists

“Listicles” are all the rage over at BuzzFeed and other print outlets. Can you make a compelling audio story out of nothing but a list? In this activity, you’ll listen to examples of Short List stories, and then record your own.


ACTIVITY #10: Audio mixing basics

  • TOPIC: Audio production
  • GUIDING QUESTION: What is audio mixing, and how do you mix an audio story?

Mixing is the process of editing and arranging audio clips in a way that sounds seamless and natural to a listener. In this activity, we'll go step-by-step through the process of audio mixing, and then you'll have the chance to practice.

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SoundBites Activity #10 - Audio mixing basics

Mixing is the process of editing and arranging audio clips in a way that sounds seamless and natural to a listener. In this activity, we'll go step-by-step through the process of audio mixing, and then you'll have the chance to practice.


ACTIVITY #9: Make a scene

  • TOPIC: Audio recording
  • GUIDING QUESTION: What is a scene, and how do you make a scene in an audio story?

A scene is a moment in an audio story that takes the listener into the center of the action using sound. In this activity, you’ll record ambiance and active tape to make your own audio scene.

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SoundBites Activity #9 - Make a scene

A scene is a moment in an audio story that takes the listener into the center of the action using sound. In this activity, you’ll record ambiance and active tape to make your own audio scene.


ACTIVITY #8: Audio scavenger hunt

  • TOPIC: Audio recording
  • GUIDING QUESTION: How do you convey concepts and emotions through sound?

What’s the sound of the color red? What about the sound of love? Of regret? Join us on an audio scavenger hunt.

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SoundBites Activity #8 - Audio scavenger hunt

What’s the sound of the color red? What about the sound of love? Of regret? Join us on an audio scavenger hunt.


ACTIVITY #7: Finding stories in your community

  • TOPIC: Storytelling
  • GUIDING QUESTION: How do journalists find great stories?

Do you want to report on your community but you don’t know where to start? In this activity, we’ll identify the elements of a great story, and then draw “Identity Maps” to generate story ideas from our own lives and communities.

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SoundBites Activity #7 - Finding stories in your community

In this activity, we’ll identify the elements of a great story, and then draw “Identity Maps” to generate story ideas from our own lives and communities.


ACTIVITY #6: Youth radio listening session

  • TOPIC: Active listening
  • GUIDING QUESTION: Why is youth-produced media important to our community?

A Rohingya teen escaped genocide in Myanmar. This is how he ended up on Mercer Island. In this activity, you will have the opportunity to practice active listening, think critically about story structure, and learn about the Rohingya refugee crisis — all while listening to a RadioActive youth-produced story!

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SoundBites Activity #6 - Youth radio listening session

In this activity, you will have the opportunity to practice active listening, think critically about story structure, and learn about the Rohingya refugee crisis — all while listening to a RadioActive youth-produced story!


ACTIVITY #5: Recording your first interview

  • TOPIC: Interviewing
  • GUIDING QUESTION: How do you complete an audio interview from start to finish?

Stories are everywhere, we’re just not always listening. In this activity, we walk step-by-step through the process of conducting an audio interview.

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Soundbites Activity #5 - Recording your first audio interview

Stories are everywhere, we’re just not always listening. In this activity, we walk step-by-step through the process of conducting an audio interview.


ACTIVITY #4: Interviewing basics

  • TOPIC: Interviewing
  • GUIDING QUESTION: How do you ask great interview questions?

At its most basic, an interview is about asking great questions and listening closely to the answers. Sounds simple, sure, but being an effective interviewer is a skill that takes practice to develop. In this activity, we’ll listen to two radio interviews and identify the kinds of questions we can ask to get interesting (and not so interesting) answers.

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SoundBites Activity #4: Interviewing basics

At its most basic, an interview is about asking great questions and listening closely to the answers. In this activity, we’ll listen to two radio interviews and identify the kinds of questions we can ask to get interesting (and not so interesting) answers.


ACTIVITY #3: What's so special about radio?

  • TOPIC: Active listening
  • GUIDING QUESTION: What makes radio different from other mediums, like print and video?

Radio producers like to say that “radio is the most visual medium.” How can that be? In this activity, you’ll explore three stories and the question: What makes radio different from other mediums, like print and video?

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SoundBites Activity #3 - What's so special about radio?

Radio producers like to say that “radio is the most visual medium.” How can that be? In this activity, you’ll explore three stories and the question: What makes radio different from other media?


ACTIVITY #2: Audio recording with a smartphone

  • TOPIC: Audio recording
  • GUIDING QUESTION: How do you make a high-quality recording on a smartphone?

We want to hear from you! In this activity, you’ll learn how to record broadcast-quality audio on your smartphone. Then, we hope you’ll respond to one of our prompts in a recording and send it to us. If you do, we may use it in an upcoming episode of the RadioActive Podcast.

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SoundBites Activity #2 - Audio recording with a smartphone

In this activity, you’ll learn how to record broadcast-quality audio on your smartphone. Then, we hope you’ll respond to one of our prompts in a recording and send it to us.


ACTIVITY #1: The Seven Sentence Story

  • TOPIC: Writing
  • GUIDING QUESTION: What are the essential elements of a story?

Humans are drawn to stories in part because they are predictable. Stories take on recognizable patterns, and we find comfort and meaning in those patterns. The way a story is organized, or it's pattern, is called its structure. In this activity, you'll use the Seven Sentence Story tool to write your own short stories using a common story structure. Then, you'll practice close listening with two audio stories, and reflect on their structures.

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SoundBites Activity #1 - The Seven Sentence Story

In this activity, you'll use the Seven Sentence Story tool to write your own short stories using a common story structure. Then, you'll practice close listening with two audio stories, and reflect on their structures.


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RadioActive Youth Media creates a space where young people can discover public radio journalism and gain access to the skills, community and institutional resources that spur their growth as media makers. Through their stories, listeners of all ages gain a deeper understanding of young people whose voices are rarely heard by the greater public.