Listening and sequencing can be a challenge for kids for cognitive reasons. The part of the brain that processes auditory information does not fully mature until a child is 15 years old. Learning to listen and sequence, however, can begin much younger, even in preschool. These important skills develop throughout childhood as cognitive pathways are established in the brain. Children become more adept at following directions, processing external information and logical ordering as these skills are reinforced.
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Tell Me A Story
You can read a story to a group of kids and test how well they are able to listen and comprehend. Choose a book that is appropriate for the age level, from preschool through middle school. Read the story out loud. For younger kids, make flash cards ahead of time with steps of the plot written out or represented with a picture. Display the steps on a white board or notice board. After you finish reading the story, ask the students to tell you which step comes first. Continue ordering the steps until the plot of the story is complete. Ask older kids to retell the story without the help of word cards.
Baking With An Alien
Motivate kids in preschool or early elementary school to pay attention with the promise of something sweet. Choose an recipe, such as brownies, no-bake cookies or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Make a recording of the steps used to make the item. Tell the kids that you are an alien from a far away planet, and you don't know how to bake. The kids must listen closely to a recording of how to bake something and then tell you the steps. Play the recording for the group, then ask what you need to do first and follow the group's instructions. If the kids mix up steps, give the group the option of playing the recording again. Make the baked good and share the result as a reward.
Teach kids how to make a musical instrument. Tell the group how to make a "shaker" (a noisemaker). Instruct the kids to measure out one cup of dry beans, put the beans into a container, glue the lid on the container and decorate the instrument. For every step that the kids complete correctly and in the correct order, provide a sticker to decorate the shaker. Older kids in third to fifth grade can make a more difficult homemade instrument, such as a drum or a guitar.
Use this activity with kids in preschool or kindergarten. Make a large map with multiple landmarks such as rivers, bridges, houses or a forest. Introduce the character of Susie. Explain to the kids that Susie is going on an adventure. The group must listen closely to the story to determine where Susie ends up. Read Susie's adventure out loud. For example, "Susie left her house and passed by the forest. She went over the yellow bridge and walked down Blackberry Road." Continue the story until Susie arrives at an unknown destination. Reveal the map and ask the kids to tell you the places Susie went in order. See if the kids can determine where Susie arrived at the end of her journey.
Conducting a science experiment can be a good way to test listening and sequencing with students in third to eighth grade. Demonstrate a simple experiment, such as the reaction with baking soda and vinegar. Give specific and short directions while you demonstrate the experiment. Ask the students to repeat the experiment. Students must rely on the ability to listen and sequence to make the experiment work.
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- Universal Preschool: Activities for Developing Listening and Sequencing Skills
- Hearing Review: Listening is Where Hearing Meets Brain...In Children and Adults
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- Teaching Sequencing: A Step-By-Step Process for K-2 Students; Bridget Wortman