Active listening is a skill which takes time to develop. The activities below can support this. Often a key aim with listening activities is to give some responsibility before the activity, e.g. ‘When we feedback together, you will be reporting on what your partner told you.’
Give one, get one

  • Children are asked to collect words or phrases, perhaps relating to smells in an artwork or textures of an object
  • They note these words down in notebooks or on paper
  • The whole class gets up and moves around. Each time they meet a different child, they ‘give’ one of their words to their temporary partner and ‘get’ one which they may add to their list.
  • This continues until a reasonable proportion of the class has met each other.
  • When the children feedback, ask them to choose a word they ‘got’.

Babble gabble

  • The leader tells the children a story or account.
    In each pair, one child begins to retell the story to their partner as fast as he/she can.
  • After a short period, the teacher calls “Change!” and the listener now continues with the tale.
  • The partners can change repeatedly, depending on the leader..
Faster and faster!

  • Similar to ‘Babble gabble’
  • The leader tells the children a story or account.
  • In each pair, one child retells the main points of the story to their partner in 1 minute.
  • Their partner then retells the main points in 30 seconds. remembering the main points
  • The first partner attempts to tell the account in 10 seconds, still keeping the key points.

Barrier games

  • Each speaker gives clear information and explicit instructions to the listener—this might be how to draw an object or artwork that their partner cannot see.
  • The listener asks questions to clarify understanding.

Word tennis

  • Each person says one word in turn, continuing from where the previous person got to.
  • The story is continually passed around the group of children and no-one person has ‘control’ of what will be said.
  • This activitiy works best if the group is no bigger than about 8 members, so that nobody has to wait too long. Multiple groups could be doing the activity at the same time.

Sentence tennis

  • This is similar to word tennis and can be a development of it.
  • Each person contributes a sentence to an account.
  • For stories, each statement must start with ‘fortunately’, ‘unfortunately’ or ‘suddenly’
  • For non-fiction, each statement could start with ‘on the other hand’, ‘but’, ‘however’.

All change

  • Make a statement about your artwork or object.
  • Try changing what you say so it becomes a question, an exclamation or a command.
  • How does your voice change?
  • How does what you say change?

Mind experiments

  • Similar to a guided meditation, children close their eyes and are led into a scenario.
  • Every so often, pause to give them time to think about their feelings and responses to a situation. Perhaps give them leading questions to support this.
  • This can work well in leading children into polarised views for a debate.