Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn
Explicit teaching of listening skills will benefit both teachers and pupils alike. In order for children to become skilled readers and writers, it is important that they are able to tune in to the speech sounds of the English language. This can be tricky for some, but a focus on listening skills before learning to read will help, especially at the beginning of the year.
The Primary Language Curriculum includes the following Learning Outcomes:
Through appropriately playful learning experiences, children should be able to:
- show interest in, demonstrate joint attention and actively listen and attend for enjoyment and for a particular purpose, and in other languages where appropriate.
- attend to, take part in and enjoy listening to reading.
- play with, recognise and manipulate sounds such as syllables, rhyme, onset-rime and phonemes in spoken words.
In addition to this, the 1999 Music Curriculum for Junior & Senior Infants (age 4-6) states:
The child should be enabled to:
- listen to, identify and imitate familiar sounds in the immediate environment from varying sources
- describe sounds and classify them into sound families
- recognise the difference between the speaking voice and the singing voice and use these voices in different ways
- recognise different voices
- use sound words and word phrases to describe and imitate selected sounds
- discover ways of making sounds using body percussion
- explore ways of making sounds using manufactured and home-made instruments manufactured
- experiment with a variety of techniques using manufactured and homemade instruments
- recognise and show the difference between fast and slow tempos
- recognise and show the difference between loud and soft sounds
- recognise and show the difference between high and low sounds
- listen and respond to patterns of long sounds and short sounds
I have compiled some lists of fun songs, stories, games and activities that will help children develop their listening skills.
Listening Walk – Go for a walk around the school and school grounds, listening for sounds. Upon returning to the classroom, draw pictures of what was heard.
Guess the Sound – Gather a box of objects that make noise (bunch of keys, tambourine, bag of crisps). Try to determine the object by listening to the sound it makes.
Sound Boxes – Fill plastic containers with various items such as rice, coins and beads. Shake each tab and try to determine the filling by listening to the sound it makes.
Sound Bingo – Listen to various sounds (https://youtu.be/sEVvXIQ_DLY) and mark them off bingo cards featuring pictures of the sounds.
Sorting Sounds – use pictures to sort sounds into categories, ie. animal sounds, weather.
Exploring vocal sounds – imitating animal sounds and environmental sounds using the voice. ie. cow, car.
Exploring body percussion - Echo clapping of 4 beat rhythm patterns
Listening & Responding to music
- Fast / Slow – Flight of the Bumblebee, ‘Morning’ by Grieg. Run/skip to the fast music and walk/stop for the slow music.
- Loud / Quiet – ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ by Bjork. Move around the room in response to the music. Change movements when the music changes.
- High / Low – Play a note on a tin whistle, glockenspiel or keyboard. Children respond by putting hands up in the air for high notes or placing them on the ground for low notes.
- Jack Hartmann – Whole Body Listener
- Sesame Street – Elmo knows how to Listen
- Stay Safe –
- Prim Ed - Phonological Awareness Book 1 – Auditory Discrimination
Interactive Games - Boom
- Wriggle and Roar, Julia Donaldson
- Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? Bill Martin Jnr & Eric Carle
- The Listening Walk, Paul Showers
- What’s That Noise? Francesca Simon
- What’s That Noise? Isabel Minhos Martins
- Listen, Gabi Snyder
- Monkey Needs to Listen, Sue Graves
Orchard Toys Games
- Sound Detectives
- First Sounds Bingo
- Sleepy Sloths
- Old McDonald Lotto
Check out all of these Picturebooks and Games on Amazon by clicking here.
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