Learning is an auditory event that is dependent on a child’s capacity to listen well. That capacity needs to be at peak when a child enters school, not just in the process of forming. Cultivating the ability to listen to instructions and follow directions that are required in school takes years of practice, but there are lots of fun and effective games and exercises to help your children play with words and sounds and learn how to listen.

mother and child playingListening games are especially helpful for children with an Auditory Processing Disorder. These simple activities do not cost anything and they can be done virtually anywhere–at home, in the car, at the grocery store or waiting in a doctor’s office.  Games can be used individually target an area that is weak in a child’s listening skill set or varied to strengthen the entire developmental range of a child’s auditory skills. They are generally appropriate for two, three and four year olds (though some 18 month olds will be able to play some of them) and specifically target listening skills.

Follow the musical leader: Sing or hum part of a song that your child knows and ask them to repeat it.

Bedtime review: As your child gets ready for bed, ask them to recount what they did that day. Can your child recall the events sequentially?

Show Me: This game helps a child follow directions, listen and do.

At an early age you must say and do each action. Later you can say and do it together.

“Show me how you touch your nose”

“Show me up on tippy toes”

“Show me how you bend your knees”

“Show me how you buzz like bees”


Make them up as you go; they don’t even have to rhyme:

“Show me how you put your hands on hips”

After you play a few times and your child gets a little older, you may not have to demonstrate and can just give the verbal direction.  A variation is to make up “silly” directions: “Show me how you put your ear to the floor.” Remember – kids like “silly.”

Going on a Sound Walk

Take a walk outside and listen for the sounds around you. What sounds to listen for? How about:

  • People talking
  • Horns beeping
  • Wind blowing
  • Your footsteps (in leaves, in snow)
  • Dogs barking
  • Sirens

Talk about the sounds and imitate them just for fun.  This same activity can be played in the house.

Listening Farmyard Fun

Use toy farm animal figures and say the sounds each one makes. Now ask your child to close their eyes, make an animal sound, and when your child opens their eyes, ask them to show you which animal she or he heard.

Try three other animals. Then turn the game around and have your child make the sound and you pick the animal.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Leave a Reply