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8 Preschool Activities to Teach Listening Skills

written by: Pam Cannon • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 7/12/2012

Listening skills are the foundation of all learning. These activities will help students to become active listeners by taking part in verbal directions, playing games, retelling stories in sequence and musical interludes.

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    Listening Skills Objectives

    The objectives for students during these activities to teach listening skills are as follows:

    - students will follow instructions

    - students will respond to questions and directions

    - students will retell stories or personal accounts in the correct sequence

    - students will become active listeners

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    Start with a Book

    Listen carefully! 

    Gather your students together and tell them that you are going to share a very special book. This book has a surprise at the end because it will speak to them, but that they must listen very carefully. Read The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle and watch the wonder on the students' faces as the cricket sings at the end of the book.

    This will set the stage for your students to become listeners. Hearing is passive and listening is active. By encouraging the children to actively listen for the surprise you are making the distinction.

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    Activities to Teach Listening Skills

    The Whisper Game: Seat your students in a circle and whisper a simple phrase into the ear of the first student. Instruct that student to whisper the same words into the ear of the next person and so on around the circle. Ask the last person to tell the phrase. What a surprise! Ask the students why they think there is a difference in the beginning phrase and the ending phrase. Repeat the game with another phrase after emphasizing the "listen carefully" aspect.

    Following Verbal Directions: Ask the students to listen to a direction and then do it e.g. walk three steps forward. Then ask them to listen again. This time add another instruction, e.g. walk three steps forward and hop two times. Each time ask them to listen and then follow the directions. Continue to add instructions until they cannot remember them all.

    Play Simon Says: Demonstrate that students should perform the action if Simon says "Do this," but should not perform the action if Simon doesn't say it. As students make a mistake have them sit down until you have a winner. Then ask that child to become the leader.

    Whisper: When the students are working or playing whisper the set of instructions. Examples could include, "Please put your building blocks in the box. Stand up and walk to the door."

    Build a Model: Divide the students into pairs. Between each pair place a screen - this could be a lid from a box or a piece of stiff paper taped at the bottom. Give one partner a set of Lego blocks (or similar) and ask them to build something. Keep the number of blocks to approximately six to ten. Give the other partner exactly the same number and colors of blocks. The partner who has built the model must now tell the other partner how to build the same model - using just their words. Remove the screens and the students will enjoy seeing the different results!

    Music: Play a snippet of music. Ask your students to close their eyes and listen. Then ask them to show on their faces how the music makes them feel. Encourage them to move their bodies in time to the music.

    What Do You Hear?: Ask your students to sit perfectly still and close their eyes. What sounds can they hear? (clock ticking, birds singing, traffic sounds, voices from another room). After one minute ask them to open their eyes and draw pictures of everything they heard.

    Sequence: Encourage students to retell their favorite stories or nursery rhymes. Tell the story using simple puppets made from figures drawn on paper, cut out and attached to drinking straws. When reciting a well known poem or song deliberately change the order and see if students correct the mistake.

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    What we've Learned

    A wise old owl sat in an oak,

    The more he heard, the less he spoke;

    The less he spoke, the more he heard;

    Why aren't we all like that wise old bird.

    Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme

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    Personal experiences from the classroom