A. Listening Skills


These activities are also available in Romanian ro_ro and in Dutch  

Skills practiced: concentration, discerning differences in sounds (needed in learning to read), taking turns.

vuist1A1: Repeat the Rhythm

Needed: Things to play rhythms with (sticks, bottles, cans, pans, blocks of wood, empty boxes . . .

Activity: vuist2

  1. Tell the students to listen closely. Clap a rhythm. Have the students repeat it.
  2. Switch and have a student clap or tap a rhythm. Have the class repeat after the student.
  3. Practice several different rhythms. Play them on several different “instruments” like clapping, tapping feet, using two sticks, sticks on bottles, sticks on cans or pans . . . .

Download #A1 Activity

1429023375A2: Finish the Rhythm.

Needed: Nothing


  1. Clap a rhythm and let someone make up a second rhythm that goes with the first. Add more rhythms.
  2. Switch and have a student clap or tap a rhythm. Have the class repeat after the student.

Play rhythms on “instruments” like tapping feet, using two sticks, sticks on bottles, sticks on cans or pans . . . .

Download #A1 & A2 Activity

A3 Guess What I Say

Needed: Nothing.6485513

Have students guess the familiar object from your description of it.

Begin with descriptions that are very general (it is square, for example).

Then make the descriptions more specific (it is red with green dots and a blue top and is right behind me on the desk).

When the students guess correctly, show the object.

Give a few students a turn at describing something.

Download #A3 Activity

A4 Stone Sounds1044215

Needed: a table, paper and pencils; stones of different sizes, small to big.


  1. Show the stones. Let the students listen to the sound of the different-sized stones as you drop them on the table (or the floor or a big box or . . .).
  2. Have the students describe the different sounds: little “pings,” big bangs . . . .
  3. Then have the students draw all of stones, each one the real size.
  4. Drop the stones in a place where the students don’t see them, only hear them. Have the students draw the size of stone that they think they hear. Or have them take turns pointing to a stone of the right size in one of the drawings.

Do the game with other things in different sizes: plastic cups or bowls, empty cans, shoes . . . . Try it out ahead of time to make sure the different sizes make different sounds.

Download #A4 Activity

A5: Telephone1429006901

Needed: Nothing


  • Everyone sits down in a circle.
  • Whisper a word in one person’s ear.
  • They whisper the word in the next person’s ear, all the way around the circle.
  • When the word comes to the last person, they say it out loud. Is it the same word?


  1. Write the first word on a piece of paper or blackboard.
  2. Don’t let anyone see it.
    When the last person says the word out loud, show the class the word you wrote down.
    Write down the word the last person said. Is it the same?
  3. Increase difficulty by whispering a phrase rather than just one word (for example, “a big dog” or “free french fries”).
  4. Increase difficulty by whispering a whole sentence.

Optional Worksheet #A6: The Same Sound

Download #A5 Activity

Download #A6 Worksheet

A6a: The Same Sound5566085_orig

Needed: Nothing.

Everyone sits down in a circle. The first person says a word out loud. The next person must say a different word which starts with the same sound. Do this all the way around the circle or until the students run out of words.

Switch to a different starting sound and repeat.

Every fourth person (or third person) may change the starting sound.
Instead of starting with the same sound, the words need to rhyme (end with the same sound).

A6b: Two Different Sounds

Divide the students into two groups. Choose two sounds in the students’ language which are similar (an English example: “ch” and “sh”). One group will stand up or raise their hands each time you say a word which begins with (for example) “ch”; the other group will stand up or raise their hands each time you say a word which begins with (for example) “sh”. (English examples: chair, share; shin, chin; chain, shame . . .)

Keep it fun. If this is too difficult, switch to words beginning with two very different sounds (English example: “b” and “s” as in bin, sin; sun, bun . . .). Also, be sure to focus on sounds and not spelling (English example: “circus” and “sea” start with the same sound; “eagle” and “egg” do not.)

Repeat with two different starting sounds (English example: “t” and “d”).


  1. Sometimes include a word which does not start with either sound (ship, chip, sip).
  2. Have a student be the leader and thinking up the words.

Worksheet: The Same Sound #A6

Tip to teacher: have the students exchange worksheets and discuss with each other whether or not they agree that the things drawn begin with the same sounds.

Download #A6a & A6b Activity

A7 Who do you hear?1429193035

Needed: Nothing.


1. Choose two students to make the sounds of two different animals. The sounds should differ only a little bit. For example, in Dutch this might be a duck and a frog (“whaa” and “waap waap”). In American English, these might be a sheep and a chicken (“baa” and “baak, bak, baak”).

2. These two stand in front of the group with their backs to the group. When student “A” makes his animal sound, those listening raise their right hand. When student “B” makes her animal sound, those listening raise their left hand.

3. After a while let other students take a turn at making other sounds. The fun is in making weird sounds. Make sure you laugh a lot together.

4. Point out the differences in the sounds, too, or ask students to describe the differences in the two sounds.

5. On the board or big sheet of paper you might write the letter that the different sound represents (maybe the “p” sound in the Dutch example or the “k” sound in the English example).

6. Make other sounds: big dog waf, little dog wuf; cat rrrring, lion rrroar; bee bzzzz, cricket biz biz biz, etc.

7. Repeat with different students and different sounds.

Download #A7 Activity

A8 Guess What I DoC6

A student will act out the name of an object; the other students guess the name of the object.

Whisper the name of an object in a student’s ear or show the name written on a slip of paper.

This student may not say anything but must act out, through motions, the name of the object, its use, etc., until the other students guess what it is.

The “actor” may only respond to guesses by nodding his or her head “yes” or “no”. He can talk again once it is guessed.

Download #A8 Activity