7 Listening Activities To Use in the Classroom

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 23, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Teachers can use an array of strategies in the classroom to help advance their students' knowledge and abilities. For instance, early childhood educators often take advantage of the many games and exercises that exist to support the development of foundational skills, such as listening. If you're a teacher searching for methods to help your students become better active listeners so they can engage more deeply in instruction, it may help you to review a few activities you can implement. In this article, we explain what listening activities are and list seven different exercises that can support student growth.

Related: 15 Strategies for Teachers To Use in Their Classrooms

What are listening activities?

Listening activities are games and exercises that teachers can use in the classroom to help students develop their active listening skills. These activities range in difficulty level and allow students to engage in various types of listening so they can gradually hone their ability to focus on discerning key information, understanding its context and applying it practically in their own work.

After implementing these activities, teachers can more effectively instruct students, keep their attention throughout lessons and help them more invest more effort in their own education. With this, listening activities are an integral part of early education that can help children establish valuable, foundational skills they're likely to use throughout the remainder of their schooling and later in life.

Related: The Importance of Good Listening and How To Listen Effectively

7 listening activities for classroom teachers

There are a variety of listening activities that teachers can implement in their classrooms to help their students gain the abilities needed to focus and absorb information effectively. Some of these activities take the form of games and allow students to develop their skills passively, while others are more active and focus on the application of these skills in real time. Here are seven different activities you may consider using in your classroom to support your students' growth and skills development:

1. Telephone

Telephone is a group activity that involves the progressive building of sentences via word-of-mouth. To play, sit your students in a circle and choose a word or sentence. Then, whisper whatever phrase you choose into a student's ear, and direct them to whisper it to the next student in line, who then passes the message around the circle until it travels back to you. As the last person in the circle, say the final message aloud and compare it to the initial phrase. Over time, this game can help students pay better attention to detail and communicate effectively.

Related: 12 Effective Teaching Habits and Their Benefits

2. Simon says

Simon says is a game that can help students pay attention to a single instructor and listen to their directions. In a full-group setting, provide instructions to your students, including some that start with the phrase "Simon says" and others that do not. Students are to follow the directions that begin with the phrase and to ignore those that exclude the phrase. This game can help students develop the ability to discern whether they need to follow instructions and, if so, what they need to do.

3. Stand up and listen

Stand up and listen is a full-group activity through which students listen for a repeated sound in a phrase. To play, say a phrase aloud that includes a repeating vowel or consonant sound, such as "I had a plan, so I ran, and I realized that I can become a fan." When students recognize a repeated sound, they are to stand up from their seats and share what they think the sound is. Once students become better at discerning certain sounds, they can make up their own phrases and play with a partner.

Related: 9 Helpful Teaching Methods To Support Student Learning

4. Describe the photo

Describe the photo is an exercise students can perform in pairs. In this activity, students sit back to back, and one of them describes the visual details of a picture while the other listens to their partner's description intently. After the first student finishes their description, the second can try to draw the picture on a separate sheet of paper, and once they complete their drawing, you can evaluate how many details they got correct. Typically, this game functions best when the photos students describe consist of simple objects and shapes that are easy to convey in a drawing.

5. Listening for lyrics

When students play listening for lyrics, they can engage with popular music and apply their skills in real-time. To do this activity, play a song that a student hasn't heard before and challenge them to listen for a particular word or two. Once students master this task, you can increase the activity's difficulty level by having them listen for a specific phrase or sentence. Afterward, you can play a song that most students know, repeat the activity and have students reflect on differences in their performance between both songs.

Related: What Is Auditory Learning Style? Definition and Strategies?

6. Musical statues

Musical statues is a physically active game that can help students engage in listening kinesthetically. To play musical statues, forge an open space that your students can move around in. Then, play music and pause it at irregular intervals. When the music is playing, students can dance. Once you pause the music, students are to freeze their movement and stay still until the music starts playing again. This activity can help students refine their ability to discern the meaning behind different sounds.

7. Draw this

Draw this is a progressive, full-group activity that helps students listen cooperatively and understand the importance of an organized classroom environment. In this activity, each student receives a blank sheet of paper, and you are to provide simple drawing instructions, such as "draw a circle." From here, ask your students to pass their sheet of paper to the student next to them, so each has a different sheet than the one they began with. Then, you can provide additional drawing instructions, and repeat the process until they receive their original sheet back.

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