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
QUICK RESOURCE >> Download your ready-made Nativity Unit here
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.
Download your ready-made Nativity Unit
Download the Play Academy’s ready-made Nativity Unit and you’ll have everything you need to lead a set of activities to introduce your children to the Nativity story.
This Unit includes artist-drawn puppets/colour-in nativity scene characters and printable Bible verse cards, that your children can use year after year.
In this Nativity teaching unit your children can:
:: learn about the Nativity and create their own Nativity book or small world scene using colour-in puppet / nativity scene characters
:: learn about Mary and Joseph’s journey, and explore junk modelling
:: learn about the shepherds role, and explore loose parts
:: learn about Jesus’ birth
:: learn about the three wise men, and complete their book / re-tell the story in their small world
Bonus Nativity thematic unit printables
The Play Academy’s thematic units come with practical printables that make the lessons more engaging for your children and easier for you to teach.
No need to go searching for printables to accompany your lessons, they’re all included when you download your chosen unit.
In this Nativity Unit you’ll receive these bonus printables:
:: My Nativity Story book to write, colour and complete to tell the Nativity story
:: a set of artist-drawn My Nativity Puppets to colour, cut out and use to re-cap and act out the Nativity story
:: Nativity Vocabulary Cards to recap and consolidate learning
:: Nativity Bible Verse Cards to read, narrate your own acting out of the story, and perhaps to memorise
How to download this Nativity thematic unit
You can download this unit along with over 50 more from NurtureStore’s Play Academy.
If you are already of the Play Academy, you can download this unit straight away from our Library here.
If you are not yet a member, find out more and choose your first unit here. Your teaching is about to get a whole lot easier!