Activities for listening comprehension in primary school

Updated November 21, 2016

Listening comprehension is a crucial skill necessary for students of all ages because it contributes to language and cognitive development. Children must listen effectively and process the heard information before being able to perform a number of tasks. Using activities that promote listening comprehension aids students in their efforts. Involve all students, no matter their current level of listening comprehension, in the activities.

Syllable Counting

At an introductory level, students can enhance their listening skills by performing physical actions to coincide with the syllables of vocabulary words. The teacher demonstrates by stating the word aloud, saying the word again while clapping during each syllable of the word. The students then repeat the teacher's display by clapping once for each syllable. Students then learn to pronounce the word correctly and begin forming phonetic awareness around the sounds in each syllable.

Dramatic Retelling

The teacher reads a story aloud to the class and encourages whole-group discussion about the events, characters and plot of the story. The students retell the story by becoming characters and acting out the storyline. Listening comprehension is crucial to the activity because students must process the events in the story and retell them in chronological order. The teacher may review the storyline a few times with the students prior to dividing them into small groups for the activity.

Game Directions

Create a game all about following directions. Students must listen to the instructions given by the teacher and follow them in order to be successful in the game. For example, a teacher may advise the students that each must find a pencil, sharpen it, draw a circle, rectangle and square, colour them and place their paper in a pile on the teacher's desk. When all steps are completed in order and to the best of the child's ability, she may receive an extra five minutes of recess. Daily requirements may be adapted to a game with a reward to practice listening comprehension skills.


The teacher may devise a number of riddles coinciding with the academic level of the students to enhance listening skills. For example, the teacher may speak a riddle such as "I am often blue. I'm worn. I have three openings. What am I?" The teacher only states the riddle one time, requiring the students to listen very carefully. Each has a turn to guess the riddle's answer. Extend the activity by asking each child to devise his own riddle with everyday objects.

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