It’s no secret that mothers are exhausted. You spend so much time worrying about how to make kids listen that it feels like carrying sandbags on each shoulder, sinking you deeper and deeper into the parenting trenches. It feels like there is no fun in parenting anymore. Turns out, listening activities for kids can help lighten the mood and improve your child’s listening.
This is because everything is a game to kids.
No really. I’m being serious.
Through listening activities for kids, you can enter into your child’s world, gain a deeper understanding of who your child is, and build a better connection. Great listening skills start with connection.
Here’s an example.
Just yesterday my son refused to go to the bathroom before bedtime. This wasn’t because he didn’t have to go to the bathroom. And it wasn’t because he was intentionally trying to throw a bedtime tantrum.
It was simply because he wanted to make bedtime fun. So we played a game called “Darkey.” (He made up the word.) Quickly, we turned out all the lights in the bathroom, the bedroom, and the hallway.
During the “Darkey” game, we sit in the dark and listen to all the sounds around us, and we name them.
I raised my index finger up to my ear. He raised his too.
“Oh, I hear the cars outside. Do you hear it?”
“Oh, I hear the ceiling fan humming. Do you hear it?”
And while we were playing the very quick “Darkey” game, I scooped him up and sat him on the potty in the dark. He peed. I took him back to bed. And that was that.
Listening activities for kids promotes cooperation.
There are thousands–yes thousands–of ways to teach kids to listen, but one important way is to use listening activities for kids. Some activities help build listening skills directly, while others are used to make things fun (like going to the bathroom) so you can get better cooperation without the frustration of a power struggle or temper tantrum.
Here are 15 listening activities for kids to inspire you!
Be the boss.
Allow your child to be the boss while you play together for a set amount of time. Your child will tell you what to play and how to play. This is excellent to help you understand how your child views your parenting instruction, and it gives you an opportunity to model listening for your child.
Grab a few dolls and sit down with your child. Have one doll be the mom or teacher and one doll is the child. Take turns playing with each doll and practicing pretend talking and listening. Choose a scenario with the dolls to mirror an area you are struggling with at home. Allow your child to take the lead.
Take turns whispering in each other’s ears and repeating back what you say to one another. Instead of making it one work, like the typical telephone game, use 3-4 short sentences for your child to repeat back. Continue practicing and sharing silly or pretend stories.
Turn out all the lights and listen carefully to all the sounds you hear. Get very quiet and whisper to each other what you are hearing. Walk through the house with a flashlight, put your ears against doors and windows, or make sounds yourself. Then name or describe each sound to each other.
Sound box game.
When children are shy and struggling with coming forward and speaking up, try The Sound Game to help kids become more confident. This game will fill your child’s creativity tank!
Take your kids on an outdoor sound hunt to help kids listen carefully to the sounds outside, naming all the sounds they hear. It’s a creative game inspired by Dr. Seuss!
Mrs. Bear sits in the chair.
Develop your child’s listening skills further by practicing this rhythmic response game. This also helps kids learn the names and sounds of instruments.
Listen and find word search.
This game is perfect for kids who don’t want to read aloud. Instead, they can play this game games to build their confidence. After their confidence builds they will be much more apt to read aloud.
Do three things.
When kids don’t like to clean up toys after they are done playing, play the game Do Three Things. Kids get very excited about this game that they often keep “cleaning” after all the toys are picked up. So creative!
Listening activity with blocks.
This listening activity with blocks works well with younger and early school-aged kids together. If your kids are learning colors or counting, this game is a perfect fit for that too. All you need is colored wooden blocks or legos are fine too.
Listen and draw.
Drawing is a great calming activity for kids, but you can also use it to build listening skills. Describe a picture to your child. Share as many details as possible while your child listens. Then ask your child to draw the picture as you described it. You can describe a simple picture for younger kids and a highly detailed picture for older kids.
This works well with a group of younger kids together. Sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or “Ring Around the Rosey” to help kids listen to the song and follow the directions.
1-2-3 step directions.
If your kids have a difficult time remembering a set of instructions, play this awesome Fill the Backpack Game. All you need is a backpack, a piece of paper, and some items from around the house.
Lego listening game.
This homemade Lego listening game is easy to organize and use in a variety of situations. You can also adjust the level difficulty to suit the abilities of your child. This game develops both spoken language, vocabulary and listening skills.
Anytime you are struggling to teach your child to listen, try turning it into a fun race. Not a race where someone wins or loses, but a race where it’s fun to run around fast. Bedtime is a particular struggle for many parents. We love using this one in the evenings to get the bedtime routine started.
Here’s the solution.
One of the biggest things I see parents struggle with is connection. And it’s no wonder why! Kids need their connection tank re-filled on a daily basis. This takes a lot of work.
A few days ago, my son refused to come inside from the car. He wanted to stay outside and eat sand. Sounds about right for a preschooler, right? Instead of wrangling him under my arm like a sausage, I turned it into a listening game.
First we started a quick sound hunt, naming all the sounds we heard in the parking lot and in the trees outside. After a few minutes, we turned it into a racing and listening game. I whispered directions into his ear one-by-one such as “take 5 hops closer to the house” and “take 3 giant steps backwards to the house.”
Print this free toddler listening checklist.
This post comes with a free printable checklist to help with toddler listening. I always have the hardest time remembering these phrases. This printable simplifies it!
Here is a sneak preview…
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable, plus join 20,000+ parents who receive my weekly parenting tips and ideas!
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Check things off as you go and don’t forget a thing!
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After taking my free email series, you will:
- Learn simple, yet highly effective listening strategies
- Experience a stronger connection with your child
- Enjoy more peaceful parenting days
- Gain more cooperation from your child