February 19, 2018
by Casey Cushing

Lesson plan

Mindfulness: Mindful Listening

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Grade Subject
(5 minutes)
  • Gather the students in a seated circle.
  • Explain that today the class will practice mindful listening.
  • Ask: "Based on what you know about mindfulness, what do you think mindful listening means? When might you want to use mindful listening?"
  • Call on students to respond, and record their answers on chart paper or the digital whiteboard.
  • Explain that you will revist these ideas after they have practiced mindful listening for themselves.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students if they know which animals have the best sense of hearing.
  • Take student guesses, and prompt "the owl" if has not yet been said. To prompt, give various clues such as "bird," "flies at night," etc.
  • Give a short introduction to the owl.
  • Key facts include: "The owl's sense of hearing is much more sensitive than a human's hearing, partly because they hunt at night. They can perceive sound in one ear before the other to determine if the sound is coming from the right or left. Owls also have uneven ears which help them know if the sound is coming from above or below."
  • The owl can hear things that are very far away: For example, a beetle in the grass 100 feet away and a mouse a half a mile away. It also has the ability to be silent in flight (soundless in motion). (See the Animal Fact Sheet PDF.)
  • Explain that today they will practice listening mindfully (and later moving soundlessly) like the owl, first in the classroom and then outside the classroom (if possible).
  • Explain that they will practice listening to sounds that are close by and farther away.
  • First they will use the chime to practice.
  • Explain that the students should just listen until they can no longer hear the sound of the chime.
  • Then ask them to notice what other sounds they hear after the chime has stopped, in the silence. "What sounds are close, and what sounds are further away?"
  • Explain that you will notice for 30 seconds, and then they will hear the chime again.
  • Each time you sound the chime, move further away.
  • Start in middle of the circle, ounding the chime, and then allowing 30 seconds of quiet.
  • Then move 10 paces out and repeat the process.
  • Then move 10 paces further and repeat the process.
  • Return to the cirlce and ask the students: What was it like to hear the chime up close and then as it got further and further away? What other sounds did they hear — close and far away — when the chime was silent?
  • On chart paper or the digital whiteboard, label two categories: close sounds and faraway sounds.
  • Make a list of what the students heard.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain that now they will get an opportunity to go on a “sound hunt,” agreeing first to be like the owl: soundless, with ears wide open to hear everything.
  • Explain that they will be listening for close sounds and faraway sounds.
  • Ideally, the sound hunt starts in the classroom, moves then through the hallway, and into an outside area on a set pathway.
  • The sound hunt can be done solely in the classroom, as necessary, with modification (i.e. make a specific pathway through the classroom for students to follow).
  • Remind students to listen for “close noises” and “far away noises”
  • Halfway through the time, students can turn to a partner and share some of the sounds they have heard so far.
  • Once back in the classroom, asks students to convene in a circle.
  • Ask students to share the sounds they heard, adding them to the list.
(10 minutes)
  • Preview Mindfulness: Mindful Listening worksheet.
  • Hand out the worksheets and have students complete them independently. Walk around the room and support students with their work.


  • Allow students to just draw responses on the worksheet if they are having difficulty with writing.


  • Encourage students to write in complete sentences on their worksheet.
  • Have students research three to five more facts about owls, and add them to the back of their worksheet.
(5 minutes)
  • In partners, ask students to reflect on the following prompts: "Share the most interesting sounds you heard, both close up and far away. What did it feel like to listen mindfully?" Rotate around the room and listen to the conversations.
(5 minutes)
  • Return to the questions posed at the beginning of the lesson: "What does mindful listening mean? When might you want to use mindful listening?"
  • Ask students to contribute new thoughts after the mindful listening practice.

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