Activities to Develop Listening Skills

These activities can be adapted for individuals, groups or whole class situations according to age, ability and level of support available.


  • Asking for objects: show the child three objects, regain his/her attention and ask clearly for one or two items e.g. ‘Give me teddy’. Miniature toys and pictures can also be used with children at a suitable level of symbolic recognition
  • Post the objects, toys or pictures in a ‘post-box’
  • Use the objects in a shopping game
  • Ask the child to hide one of the objects while you shut your eyes and then make a big show of looking for it
  • Sing nursery rhymes and favourite songs and leave a pause for the child to supply the missing key word
  • Tell well-known stories (especially stories with repetitive lines) over and over again pausing for the child to join in at key moments
  • Hide a loudly ticking clock or musical box and help the child to find it
  • Play ‘Musical Statues’
  • Play Mousie Mousie (Spears Games) in which children have to pull plastic mice away by their tails before the adult catches them with a cup. The child must wait for the signal ‘Go!’
  • Lay a number of everyday objects before the child and while s/he shuts his/her eyes make the associated noise. The child must correctly identify the object
  • Use musical objects in a similar way
  • Match sounds to pictures, using tapes of everyday sounds (Sound Lotto)


  • Matching sounds to objects or pictures
  • Make up a story with the child’s name in it. Read it then repeat asking the child to put up his/her hand when s/he hears his/her name or ask all the boys/girls to stand up when they hear a boy’s/girl’s name
  • Ask for objects (as in level 3) but gradually increase the number of objects Vary by putting objects in shopping bag, clothes in a suitcase, and pictures on a washing line
  • Follow simple commands:
    a) ask the child to touch two to three body parts
    b) ask the child to touch or give you two unrelated objects e.g. shoe, book
    c) Give simple actions to do to musical stimuli e.g. when s/he hears the drum s/he must run to the door
  • In a group play Musical Chairs
  • Ask the child to copy a number of beats on a drum
  • In a group, ask each child to listen for his own name and perform a simple action, such as stand up
  • Ask the child to copy a simple rhythm on a drum


  • Play ‘Simon Says’ with and then without gesture
  • Ask for objects/pictures but increase the number of items displayed and requested
  • Introduce a fantasy element e.g. pretend you are going to a desert island/holidays/space travel/and you must take…
  • Read a story to one or more children:
    a) about a dog or cat and whenever the animal is mentioned the child must make appropriate noise or mime the particular animal
    b) about a child’s birthday and all the different presents s/he gets, as the child hears the presents mentioned s/he collects the appropriate picture
  • The children sit in a circle and they must call another child’s name and throw a beanbag to him/her
  • Two children sit either side of a screen, each with a large sheet of paper and crayons They take it in turns to tell each other what to draw e.g. ‘Draw a house. Put a red roof on it. Make three windows’. Etc. At the end both drawings should look the same
  • The child pretends to be different things on hearing different musical instruments e.g. drum – soldier, glockenspiel – raindrop

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Last updated: 21 October 2015

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