Listening & Sequencing
There are a variety of activities you can do at home that correlate with the cognitive developmental stage of 2-5 year olds
and the typical preschool course of study. Two of the key skills that preschool educators think children ages 2-5 should
have in order to begin formal academic learning - in the school or homeschool environment - are
Listening and
Here are some activities you can do to help your preschooler learn these skills.

Activities for Developing Listening and Sequencing Skills
  • Follow simple directions.
  • Listen to a short story.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Recognise common sounds.
  • Repeat a sequence of sounds.
  • Repeat a sequence of orally given numbers.
  • Retell simple stories in sequence.
  • Follow Simple Directions

  • Bake A Cake!
    An easy way to teach kids how to follow directions is to bake something by following a recipe. Your child will
    quickly see that doing each step in a particular order is necessary to produce a tasty treat. Try this recipe
    (designed with kids in mind) for baking a carrot cake.

    As you follow the directions, ask your child, "What do you think would happen if we didn't grate the carrots or cut
    them up before putting them in the cake? Why do we have to break the eggs? Why do you think we need to
    measure the dry ingredients - what do you think would happen if we used the whole bag of flour instead of just 3
    cups?" There are no "right" answers - you are just helping them to understand that there's a good reason for
    following the directions.

Do A Fast & Easy Craft Project!

In this activity you follow directions to make a musical instrument!

Container Music Maker
What you'll need: 1 small container with a tight lid (a yogurt container or small margarine container) and a handful of

Directions: Ask your child to pick up the container, take off the lid, and put the beans inside. Put the lid back on the
container. Now you're ready to play!

As your child plays with their new musical instrument ask him/her to:

  • shake it up high
  • shake it down low
  • shake it while he/she turns around!
*Note: Have everything ready to go before you begin this craft, it will make things go faster and easier. The goal is to
have your child follow directions well. The container can be decorated with markers and/or stickers.  Get more
directions on
how to make your own instruments and learn how making music can make you smarter!  See African -
Swahili Crafts - Make a Thumb Piano

Turn Chores Into Fun Learning Opportunities

Go On A Sock Search!
Ask your child to get something from around the house and bring it to you. For example: Tell your child you are missing
some socks and need their help to find them. Please go to the bedroom and look for socks on the floor. If you find any
socks on the floor, pick them up and bring them to me. When your child can handle one direction, ask him/her to get a
couple of things and bring them to you. This will help with their listening and observational skills.

Trap the Toys!
Take a big, empty cardboard box and write "Toy Trap" on it. Tell your child that you've noticed the toys keep escaping
from the bedroom. They are everywhere throughout the house. Explain that you've built a toy trap to keep them in a safe
place when your child isn't playing with them. Ask your child to help you round up the toys and put them in the trap.

More Fun Activities That Help Kids Learn To Follow Directions:

Make Direction Cards
Direction cards make a fun game that will help your child learn to follow directions better. You'll need about 10 index
cards for this and a pen. (You can add more cards later.) Write a direction on each card such as hop on one foot, clap
your hands, smile, count to 3, point to something round, draw a flower, and so forth. Try using pictures so your child can
"read" the cards himself.

Go On A Treasure Hunt!
Make a hidden treasure map for your child. Draw the map on a piece of construction paper. Put some lines, symbols
and simple directions on it. Glue pictures (cut from a magazine or from printed computer graphics) on the map. When
the glue dries, roll the map up and put a ribbon or a rubber band around it. Present the treasure map to your child and
say, "See if you can follow the directions to find the hidden treasure."

Example of what to put on the map: Pick a place to start such as your child's bedroom (use a bed for this picture). Take
10 steps (draw footprints or track marks) to the living room (put a couch for this room). Take 4 steps to the dining room
or bathroom (put a table or a bathtub for these clues). Finally, take 5 hops (draw footprints together and spaced apart)
to the kitchen and you will find your treasure! (Have a small toy, a new package of crayons, a container of Play Dough,
or a healthy snack waiting for your child!)

Your child may need a little help reading the map whether you use words or pictures on it. Help them figure it out
and have fun!

Variation: Instead of a map, make up some picture cards for the rooms in your home. Put the clues in order and hide
them around the house in the order you would like your child to find the clues. Hand your child the first clue, and then let
him/her find the next clue. For example: Your child's first clue might be a picture of a couch. When your child goes to the
couch - they will find another "clue" on the couch or under one of the pillows on the couch. The next clue might have a
picture of a bathtub. That will direct your child to go to the bathroom for the next clue. Put another clue in the bathroom.
That clue could finish the game by leading to the treasure. For example, the clue card could have a picture of a
refrigerator to represent the kitchen. Have the treasure hidden in the fridge.

Help your child make and hide some cards for another family member to find! This would also be a nice way to find a
birthday or holiday surprise!

Listen To a Short Story

Kids who are read to each and every day develop better reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Reading out
loud is the single most important thing you can do to help your child develop the skills needed to become a life-long
learner. Here are some ideas to encourage reading out loud.

  • Cuddle up and read short stories together.
  • Go to a library for story time.
  • Visit the bookstore and read some books there. Purchase your favourite.
  • Listen to audio books.
  • Record your child's favourite short stories and let him/her listen to you read them over and over. (Ask
    grandparents and relatives to do this as well.)
  • As your child to make up a story. Take dictation. Read the story back to them.
  • These sites have free stories and activities for children that you can read online or print out and read offline:

Children's Storybooks Online - illustrated storybooks for kids of all ages.
Children's Classics - illustrated classics for younger children
Children's Story - free fairy tales, nursery rhymes, interactive stories, and holiday stories.
Aesop's Fables - an alphabetical directory of the classic tales.
Free Games & Educational Activities for Kids

Listen Carefully
Children need to develop good listening skills to develop good language and reading skills. They must learn to
discriminate various sounds in order to associate a particular sound with a letter. Then, they need to remember the
sounds that letters make so they can reproduce them and use them to make words as their language skills develop.

Listening skills can be practised in a fun way. Each child's individual developmental timetable will help to determine if
they are ready for the activities described below. Remember that this is not a race. Children's maturity, attention span,
and personal vocabulary will influence their ability to listen actively and selectively. Respect their readiness. If these
activities are frustrating or boring, by all means move on to something that your child can accomplish successfully and
is interested in doing. Learning should be a joyful experience. If your child isn't attentive and actively engaged in the
activity -- put it away and try something else.

Note: For more information, read, "
How Can Parents Model Good Listening Skills?"

In these classic children's games, kids learn to listen carefully and follow directions:

Play the classic children's game, "Simon Says"
Play "Mother, May I?" or "Captain, May I?"

Take a Sound Walk! Go on a walk around the block and have your child identify everything they hear. Can they
tell what direction a sound is coming from?

Recognise Common Sounds
Close Your Eyes and Open Your Ears
Have your child close their eyes and listen to what's going on around him/her (inside or outside). Ask him/her about
the sounds they hear.
Ask your child to close her eyes or turn around. Make sounds with objects. Have your child identify the object that
makes the sound. Let your child do the same to you.
Learn The Sounds That Letters Make!
You can listen to the sounds letters (consonant and vowels) make while watching a clever animation with your
child at

Play the Magic School Bus Gets An Earful Sound Game
Your child will have fun finding out if he/she has a good "ear" for matching up sounds with the things that make them.

Repeat a Sequence of Sounds
There are a variety of online games and toys based on the children's game "Simon Says" that require kids to listen to a
sound pattern and repeat it.

Try playing this free on-line version.

You can purchase an electronic toy Simon Game.

Play Musical Follow-The-Leader!

Make two, identical musical instruments out of recycled products - one for you, and one for your child. Then, make one,
simple noise with your instrument and ask your child to try to imitate it with their instrument. Then, make two noises,
then three, and have your child attempt to repeat the patterns you create. Let your child make up a sound pattern so that
you can repeat what your child does.

Variation: Sing or hum a portion of a song or tune, and ask your child to repeat it.

Sing: "If You're Happy And You Know It..."
This children's favourite not only help kids repeat a sequence of sounds, it requires them to listen attentively and follow

Sing the song with
Listen to just the tune and read the lyrics.

Repeat a Sequence of Orally Given Numbers

  • Count to 20 with your child.
  • Teach your child how to skip count by 2's, 5's and 10's.
  • Sing Counting Songs!

Teach your child his/her own street address and phone number. Try setting this information to a familiar tune to help
your child remember it. Don't forget to include the area code when you teach a phone number.

Retell Simple Stories in Sequence
  • What Happened Next?
  • Read a story to your child. Ask him/her to retell the story. Help your child retell it in logical sequence or order
    simply by asking, "What happened next?"

Photo Fun
Show your child photos from a family outing and ask him/her to help you put your child in order based on when each
event took place. Ask them to retell the story of the family outing.

Play a
Memory Sequencing Game with this free online activity.

Take Dictation! Have your child dictate a letter telling someone special about his or her day.

Illustrate Your Child's Day! Ask your child to draw something about their day, talk about the picture with your child.

Bedtime Recap! As you get ready for bed, ask your child to recount the day's events.

Comical Cut-Ups! Cut up a comic strip and let your child put it back in order. Ask them what they think the comic says.

Make A Story Spinner and Play The Story Game!
Use the directions below to make a "Story Spinner." Use it to create a story. Write the story down as you and your child
play the story game (see instructions below). Illustrate the story. Ask your child if they can retell the story when you're
finished. Reread the story later. Use play dough to make the characters or scenes from the story.

How To Make a Story Spinner:

You will need this game template.

You will also need stickers, stamps, graphics or pictures cut out of a magazine, glue, a paper brad/fastener, pencil and
a ruler.

Directions: Make a copy of the spinner on thick card stock paper. Then invite your child to put one stamp, sticker or
picture in each wedge.

How to play: Each picture represents a part of the story. You and your child can take turns spinning the spinner to create
another part of the story. Write the story while you are playing and read it back when you are done or have your child tell
you the story again in his/her own words.

Back to:
Reading Readiness Concepts

Next: Position & Direction
Free Preschool
Listening & Sequencing
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