Whole-body listening is an important skill for students of all ages to learn. The concept was first developed by Susanne Poulette Truesdale in 1990. It explains how each body part can contribute to the act of listening. This skill allows students to be mindful and think about what is being said. Below is a list of activities to help your students grow as whole-body listeners.
1. Tooty-Ta Dance
Fun for all ages, this song encourages students to get up and dance while also practicing whole-body listening. To participate in the dance, students will need to listen carefully to the words, and follow along with movements.
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2. Play Simon Says
Nothing gets students excited about learning more than a fun listening game. Simon Says is a classic, and provides a great opportunity for students to practice whole-body listening. Choose someone to be Simon, and have students actively listen to follow along.
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3. Use Whole Body Listening Cards
Show students how they should be listening. These cards are a great way to visually show students what each part of their body should be doing. Students can model their bodies after the cards, and you can review these cards often by making them part of your classroom routine.
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4. Use a Squishy Ball
This simple and effective game is also really fun. Students will need to pay attention to your movements to follow your lead. To activate whole-body listening skills, pair directions with each movement.
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5. Get Creative with Collages
Have older students get creative with their thinking about whole-body listening. Ask them to make collages where they label the different parts of the body that are activated during whole-body listening. They can use pictures of themselves or pictures from a magazine!
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6. Play the Listening Game
In order to play the listening game, students will need to listen carefully to the given instructions. They will also need to keep an ear open for the sounds of bells. This game will engage both students’ listening skills and their imaginations.
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7. Share a BrainPop Jr. Video
Share a BrainPop Jr. video about listening with your students. This video talks about how to be a good listener. Students will learn how to imagine what the speaker is saying, and will gain other tips to build their skills.
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8. Play Red Light, Green Light
Another classic game that promotes body listening skills! Play red light, and green light with students. They’ll need to zero in on the speaker to actively listen for directions. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to practice whole-body listening, and also serves as a great movement break!
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9. Read Whole Body Listening Larry at School
Written by Elizabeth Sautter, the Whole Body Listening Larry books are a wonderful way to introduce the concept to students. Do a read-aloud with your group. As you read, have students pay attention to how they are listening to the story. Return to the book as often as needed for a refresher!
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10. Sing About It
Songs just stick in students’ brains. Sing about whole body listening, and invite students to sing along. This song is great and allows students to walk through the steps of what makes a whole-body listener.
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11. Listening-Based Play
Have students play with toys while you narrate what to do. This feels like play but is the perfect activity to build on those listening skills.
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12. Do Some Yoga
Yoga is a wonderful way to engage the entire body and mind. Students will have the chance to practice whole-body listening while following along with these yoga poses.
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13. Play Stand Up and Listen
This listening game will capture your students’ attention. Identify a sound that serves as the signal. When students hear the sound, they’ll need to stand up next to their desks.
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14. Read About Listening
Kids love listening to stories, so why not harness that interest and read about listening? Take a look at this book list and choose one to build your students’ skills.
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15. Teach an Active Listening Skills Lesson
This is a great pre-made digital activity to use with high schoolers and will engage them in a state of active listening. Complete with an audio clip of an interview, and a video with tips, this is a ready-to-go lesson suggestion.
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16. Running for your Mouth Game
Calling all competitive students! This game requires students to run to different audio stations around the learning space, listen, and then relay the information back to their group members.
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17. Blindfolded Partner Walk
Have students pair up and blindfold one partner. The other partner will give directions about how to move throughout the room. The one with the blindfold will need to focus on listening.
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18. Survey Students
For older students, have them reflect on their listening skills by taking a survey. They’ll need to think about whether or not they practice whole-body listening. If they don’t, they’ll know where to improve.
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19. Listen to a Podcast
When students listen to a podcast with the goal of learning, they need to be whole-body listeners. Ask students to listen to podcasts while pausing to jot down their thoughts.
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20. Use Speaker Listener Cards while Role Playing
Have students pair up and role-play using cards so they know when it’s their turn to speak and listen. This activity requires imagination, social skills, and acting. Best of all it allows students the chance to practice their listening skills.
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21. Keep a Listening Journal
This practice is common among musicians, but why not use it in your classroom? Provide students with prompts about their listening habits. They can jot down their traits as a listener, or even the main ideas they hear throughout the day.
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22. Hang a Whole Body Listening Poster in your Classroom
For a visual reminder, hang a poster in your classroom with tips on how to be a whole-body listener. Students can even make their own to foster a strong sense of community within the classroom!
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