LISTENING SKILLS ACTIVITIES
By: Carmen Willings
Since listening skills will be a major source of information for a student who is blind or visually impaired, it is important to develop good listening skills when the child is young. The following are some listening skill activities to use with students.
What’s That Sound?
Prior to this activity, record, or obtain recordings, of sounds associated with the unit. Talk to the student about the importance of sounds and how they give us information. Listen to prerecorded sounds. Ask the student to name the sound that they hear. End the activity by summarizing the importance of sounds and how they convey meaning. Extend the activity by asking the student to identify the object or printed word that matches the activity.
Fill a variety of matching containers with items from the unit. Alternatively, use containers related to the unit and fill with items that create different sounds when shaken in the container (ex. Sand, beans, bells, rice, etc.) Check to ensure that each container has a unique sound. Create a matching set. Encourage the student to shake the containers and pair up the matching sounds.
Obtain an object related to the unit of study. If using a stuffed animal, carefully open it at a seam and insert a beeper. Attach Velcro to allow you the ability to open and close it. If using an item you do not want to open, or cannot, simply attach the beeper to the object with strapping tape or use another temporary means to attach it. Hide the object and encourage the student to listen and locate it. Take turns with the student and allow them to have a turn hiding it. Encourage the child to invite peers to play!
Have your student practice directional and body concepts by playing Simon Says (Simon Says, put your fingers on your ears, etc). Move body in relation to objects. Stand beside, step over, etc. Have the student place their fingers on your: ears, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, hair, hand, feet, brain, heart, stomach, shoulders, knees, elbows, ankles, wrist. Make the activity more challenging by having the student put hand on foot, elbow on knee, nose on knee, etc.
Alternatively, change the name of the game to a unit related person. Ex. Scarecrow Says, Santa Says, Teacher Says, Fireman Says, etc.
I’m Going on a Trip
Play this activity with the student or invite peers to play along. Have the student decide on a place to take an imaginary trip related to the unit. “I’m going on a trip and I’m bringing ____” Have the student share an item to bring (e.g., "I'm bringing an apple'). Next, you repeat the student's item and then share your own (e.g., "We're bringing an apple and a bag of chips). Continue taking turns until one of you forgets a previously mentioned item. You can then choose to end the game, help the other recall or start a new trip. Make the game more challenging by listing items from A to Z.
Have the student blend and identify a unit related word that is stretched out into its basic component sounds. Provide a variety of vocabulary words from the unit. Tell the student that you are going to say a word using "snail talk", a slow way of saying words (e.g., /ssssssnnnnnaaaaillllll/ for snail) Encourage the student to guess what word is being said.
Select a word family using vocabulary words from the unit. Attach the vocabulary cards to the sides of envelopes or containers. Print/braille words within those word families on cards. Encourage the student to read the word and placing it in the appropriate envelope or container.
Present the student with vocabulary cards from the unit. Have the student clap out the syllables in the words. Sort the words by the number of syllables.
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Due to the nationwide shortage of vision professionals, it can be challenging to locate personnel. Announce a job vacancy on the Job Exchange of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, an online listing of jobs specific to the visual impairment field.
Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn by Lizbeth A Barclay is published by the American Foundation for the Blind. This text provides a systematic development of skills in listening for and interpreting auditory information. Barclay discusses instruction in listening skills at different ages and it includes a continuum chart and a checklist to use in assessment.