This week’s Christmas sensory play ideas are exploring our sense of hearing. Here are some fun, festive listening games you can play with your child.
Christmas listening games
Both my daughters love making noise. But it’s also important to encourage children to develop their hearing skills, so they can listen very carefully – and not only so they will always listen to you!
:: a good sense of hearing is important in learning language, to pick up vocabulary and pronunciation
:: listening games help children learn how to focus in on something, and to concentrate
:: listening games can also encourage team work, turn taking and fair play
:: activities that focus on sounds can be calming and soothing
How to make Jingle Bell Boxes
Our Christmas listening games use little parcels of sound. They’re easy to make and there’s a selection of play ideas and games that you can use them for, to suit children of different ages and stages.
To play the games, you’ll need a few small gift boxes. You can buy a set from the store but there’s also a super site called Template Maker which will design a printable template for just about any shaped gift box you want. Click through, type in the size of the box you want – I used a 6cm square for this set – and then you can print a pdf template of your box. I used mine to trace round onto thick card, but even easier would be to put the card in your printer and print the template directly on to the card.
You’ll need some sounds to go inside your boxes. Think about what you have that will make an interesting noise as it rattles around in the box. You could use dried rice, pasta, corn, chickpeas, fir cones, wooden rings, large buttons, Lego pieces, cotton reels….and of course some jingle bells.
You’ll need to make sure the items you’re using are suitable for your child, especially if you have a younger child: use items that are big enough not to pose a choking hazard, secure the items safely (you could sew them inside a little fabric pouch) or make sure you fasten up all the sides of the boxes with glue or tape. In any case, you’ll need to supervise all the time your child is playing with the boxes.
Place a different sound inside each gift box, fasten the box securely, and add a little bow to make your seasonal-sounding Christmas presents.
How to play Christmas listening games
There are lots of different ways to play, exploring your sense of hearing
:: Set the boxes out on a discovery table or in a treasure basket and invite your child to come and explore. What can they hear inside each box? Can they guess what’s inside? This is a lovely activity for babies and toddlers.
:: Hide the gift boxes around the room and go on a sound hunt to find them.
:: Add in some numbers and play a ‘Where are the Jingle Bells?’ guessing game. Take three boxes, all of the same colour if possible, including one with the jingle bells in. Count your boxes and place number cards next to them: 1, 2, 3. Take a guess: which number box are the jingle bells in? Take turns with your child to mix the boxes up and guess where the bells are hiding.
:: Play ‘Pass the Parcel’. Sit a group of children in a circle and give one of them the gift box with the jingle bells in. Play some Christmas music and pass the jingle bell box around the ring from child to child as the music plays. Stop the music and catch one child holding the jingle bell box. They can win a treat, take a challenge, answer a quiz question, or be ‘out’ of the game, whichever way you’d like to play. Turn the music on again, and play the game some more.
:: Play the ‘Where’s the Noise?’ game. This is a good game to work on careful listening skills, sensing the direction of a noise, following instructions and taking turns to be quiet:
Sit a group of children in a circle. Pick one child to be the guesser. Have this child close their eyes (perhaps covering their eyes with a mask or blindfold), and then give one of the other children the jingle bell gift box.
Everyone in the circle sings the first few lines of ‘Jingle Bells’ and at the end the child holding the gift box gives it a little shake, so everyone can hear the bells. Can the guesser work out which child has the gift box?
Everyone else will need to practise being very quiet, and the guesser will need to listen very carefully to hear which direction the jingle bells are coming from. You might need to give clues to help them narrow down which child has the bells. Once they work it out, someone else takes a turn to have the bells, and someone else gets to guess.
More Christmas sensory play activities
You can see all the ideas for exploring your sense of sight here. This week we also have a fab selection of hearing activities:
Christie at Childhood 101 has a sound obstacle course.
Kate at Picklebums has a listen and draw game with a great free printable.
Ana at Babble Dabble Do has Christmas bell door hangings.
Meri at Meri Cherry has candy cane noise makers.
Kristina at Toddler Approved has a presents sound matching game.
Ready for a whole year of exploring through the senses? Super Sensory Invitations to Play is a delightful resource that encourages your children to explore the five senses through the year, using a wide variety of sensory materials. It includes 52 invitations to play, linked to the festivals and seasons of the year, and including water, ice, dough, rice, paints, sand, sensory tubs, and more.
They are easy, simple, and fun ideas that you can use right now to give a multi-sensory boost to your play and learning. It comes with a printable recipe book featuring all our favourite recipes for play. Come and see more here.