Fun Activities That Nannies Can Use to Improve Listening Skills in Children

Children learn through play. That’s why I love referencing the book Playwiseby Denise Chapman Weston and Mark S. Weston. The book includes 365 fun-filled activities for building character, conscience, and emotional intelligence in children.

Here are just a few of their activities that improve listening skills:

Listening Cap: “Put your listening cap on.” Turn this familiar saying into a tool to help children remember to be a good listener. Draw big ears on a baseball cap and label it “Listening Cap.” When you need a child to concentrate on what you are saying, give him the listening cap. Pretend the cap has super-powers that are activitated when the wearer looks into the eyes of the speaker and focuses on what is being said.

Pay Attention Jar: Write the word “Attention” on an empty glass jar and fill a second jar with pennies or nickels. Label the second jar with the child’s name. Each time the child fails to listen to you , tell her to put a coin from her joar into the “Attention” jar. At the end of te week, seh can keep the coins remaining in her jar.

Pass the Ball: In this game only the person holding the ball may speak. Deaf people who sign cannot communicate unless their listeners are watching, a conversation involving many people can fall apart if everyone isn’t taking turns speaking and everyone isn’t looking at the speaker. Pass the Ball borrows from an ancient custome of certain Native American tribes who passed a peace pipe. Everyone would sit in a circle and wait for the pipe before speaking. Use this concept in the family. If someone wants to speak, they have to ask for the ball.

Telephone: Teach children how scrambled a message can become when it’s passed along to other people. Players sit in a straight line. The person at one end whipsers a brief message to the next person, who whispers the same message to the third in line, who whispers it to the fourth, and so on. The last person in the line repeats the message out loud. Is it correct, or is it completely different from the original? Talk with the kids about the results and the importance of listeing carefully to get a message correct.


  1. OMG we just started the "attention jar" but are calling it a "listen the first time jar" because I read this book this weekend and my kindergarten charge isn't listening in school or home either. She LOVES it so far! So ironic and highly recommended!

  2. PS: I like the other ideas too but when I tried to make the listening cap it didn't work well at all. I can't figure out how to make the ears stay on a baseball cap.

  3. My 7 year old charge has been getting into a lot of trouble at school lately. He is talking too much and isn't following directions. It's a problem at home also. He forgets to follow directions in his homework too. I get the feeling he just isn't paying attention and is trying to hurry through things. Any ideas on how to get him to slow down and pay attention?

  4. I'm having same problem with 7 yr old boy I care for. He's extrememly bright and focuses fine on school work, but he doesn't pay attention at all. Some think he's bored. Others think he's got hyperactivity. If he focuses fine when reading or has to and does fine on school work can he be hyperactive too?

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