by Rae Pica
Listening well is essential for learning to speak and read skillfully. In fact, Jeanne Muchado, in her textbook Early Childhood Experiences in Language Arts, contends that many children who have difficulty learning to read can’t hear the sequences of sounds in words.
With that in mind, here are two activities that promote auditory discrimination (the ability to distinguish among sounds) and auditory sequential memory (the ability to hear and recall a series of words, sounds, or instructions).
Ready, Set, Action! Start slowly with this activity. Speak slowly and begin with only two commands at a time. When your child is ready, increase the challenge gradually.
Give your child a short list of movements to do but ask her to wait until you’ve stopped speaking before she starts doing them. Possible sequences include:
- Jump twice; shake all over.
- Clap twice; give yourself a hug.
- Blink your eyes, bend at the waist and straighten up.
For three-part sequences, put some of the above together. For example: clap twice, blink your eyes, give yourself a hug.
Musical Memory. This game calls for you to have some instruments with distinctive sounds, such as a tambourine, a drum, a slide whistle, maracas, and bells. (You might substitute such sound-making items as keys on a key chain, hands clapping, and a pot with a wooden spoon.)
Assign a particular movement to each of the instruments or sounds you’ve chosen and explain to the child that he should move that way when they hear the corresponding sound. For example, when you shake the tambourine, he should shake his body. When you bang the drum, he should stomp his feet. And when you play the slide whistle, he should move up and down in place.