A: Listening Skills


These activities are also available in Romanianro_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. Ask everyone to listen closely. Clap a rhythm. Have the others repeat it.
  2. Switch and have someone else clap or tap a rhythm. Have the group repeat this rhythm.
  3. Practice several different rhythms. Play them on several different “instruments” like sticks on bottles, sticks on cans or pans, using two sticks . . ..

Video available

1429023375A2: Finish the Rhythm

Needed: Nothing extra.


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

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

A3: Guess What I Say

Needed: Nothing extra.6485513


  1. The group guesses a familiar object from your description of it.
  2. Begin with descriptions that are very general (it is square, for example).
  3. Then make the descriptions more specific (it is red with green dots and a blue top and is right behind me on the desk).
  4. When someone guesses correctly, show the object.
  5. Give another person a turn at describing something.

A4: Stone Sounds1044215

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


  1. Show the stones. Let everyone listen to the sound of the different-sized stones as you drop them on the table (or the floor or a big box, etc).
  2. Have them describe the different sounds: little “pings”, big bangs…
  3. Then have them draw all of the stones, each one the real size.
  4. Drop the stones in a place where the participants don’t see them, only hear them. Have them 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.

Variation: 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.

A5: Telephone1429006901

Needed: Nothing extra.


  1. Everyone sits down in a circle.
  2. Whisper a word in one person’s ear.
  3. They whisper the word in the next person’s ear, and so on, all the way around the circle.
  4. When the word comes to the last person, they say it out loud. Is it the same word as the one you started with?

Variation 1: Write the first word on a piece of paper or the board, if there is one to use. Don’t let anyone see it. Then whisper the word in the first person’s ear, and go round the circle. When the last person says the word out loud, show everyone the word you wrote down. Write down the word the last person said. Is it the same?

Variation 2: Increase difficulty by whispering a phrase rather than just one word (for example, “a big dog” or “free french fries”).

Variation 3: Increase difficulty by whispering a whole sentence.

Optional Worksheet: The Same Sound

A6a: The Same Sound5566085_orig

Needed: Nothing extra.


  1. Everyone sits down in a circle. The first person says a word out loud.
  2. 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 everyone runs out of words.
  3. Switch to a different starting sound and repeat.

Variation 1: Every fourth person (or third person) may change the starting sound.

Variation 2: Instead of starting with the same sound, the words need to rhyme (end with the same sound).

A6b: Two Different Sounds


  1. Divide everyone into two groups. Choose two sounds in their language which are similar (an English example: “ch” and “sh”).
  2.  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.)
  3. 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.)
  4. Repeat with two different starting sounds (English example: “t” and “d”).

Variation 1: Sometimes include a word which does not start with either sound (ship, chip, sip) and let the others catch you at this mistake.

Variation 2: Have someone else lead and think up the words.

Optional Worksheet: The Same Sound

Tip to leader for use of worksheet: have everyone exchange worksheets and discuss with each other whether or not they agree that the things drawn begin with the same sounds.

A7: Who Do You Hear?1429193035

Needed: Nothing extra.


  1. Choose two people to make the sounds of two different animals. The sounds should differ only a little bit. For example, in American English, these might be a sheep, “baa”, and a chicken “baak, bak, baak”.
  2. These two people stand in front of the group with their backs to the group. Tell the group which animal sounds to expect. When person “A” makes his animal sound, those listening raise their right hand. When person “B” makes her animal sound, those listening raise their left hand.
  3. After a while let others 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 for someone 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 (the “k” sound in the English example).
  6. Repeat with different people in front making different sounds.

A8: Guess What I DoC6

Needed: Nothing extra.


  1. One person will act out the name of an object; the others guess the name of the object.
  2. Whisper the name of an object in one person’s ear or show the name written on a slip of paper.
  3. This person may not say anything but must act out, through motions, the name of the object, its use, etc., until the others guess what it is.
  4. The “actor” may only respond to guesses by nodding his or her head “yes” or “no”. He can talk again once it is guessed.