Active Listening Games

Written by lily mae
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Active Listening Games
Use games to promote active listening skills. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Listening is something we do on a regular basis, be it to learn, entertain or to engage in a conversation. Despite the fact that listening is a large part of our lives, many aren't very good at it. Acquiring good active listening skills, or fully understanding what is being heard, is necessary for success in all areas of life. Improve the listening skills of students by engaging them in games that encourage active listening.

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Identify the Changes

In this game, students must actively listen to hear subtle changes made to a story. Divide your class into two teams. Select a passage from a familiar text and read it aloud once, then read it aloud again, making subtle changes to the text as you read. During the second reading of the passage, the first team to raise its hands upon hearing a change in text earns a point. The team who earns the most points wins this active listening game.


The classic game of "telephone" is non-competitive, yet requires players to use active listening skills to pass along the correct message. Whisper a silly message into the ear of one of your students and have this student whisper the message into the ear of the person sitting next to him. After hearing the message, each student whispers the message into the ear of the person sitting next to him. When the last person hears the message, she must state out loud the message she heard. Discuss if the final message is any different from the original message and why it may have been altered. Continue playing, encouraging students to listen very carefully, until the final message is the same as the original message.

Start and Stop

Paying close attention is part of active listening and this game requires students to listen very carefully to determine when they should start and stop walking in place. Ring a bell and inform students that, upon hearing it, they should walk in place. Blow a whistle and tell students that when they hear it blow, they should stop walking. Start the activity, leaving a good length of time between making the two sounds so students can get the hang of the task. After a few rings and blows, try to confuse students by ringing the bell while they walk or by blowing the whistle while they stand still. If someone walks when he shouldn't or stops when she shouldn't, the student must sit out; the last person standing wins the game.

Simon Says

"Simon Says" is a game designed to improve listening skills, but you can modify it as a means of teaching your students the importance of active listening skills. Set up a television and have students stand with their backs facing you and watch the television while you shout out directions for the game. Play another version of the game in which there are no distractions in the room and the students face you. Discuss the difference in the two games and explain that active listening requires ignoring distractions.

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