SKILLS: Children will learn about the ears and listening.
- pictures of animals
- unbreakable mirrors (optional)
- soothing music
- hollow objects to listen through, such as juice cans, seashells, and cardboard or plastic tubes
- a wooden dowel or smooth, blunt stick (optional for older children)
IN ADVANCE: Post the pictures of animals and talk about their ears. Discuss what they look like, what they are used for, and how they are similar and different.
1 Direct the discussion to people's ears. What do they look like? What are they used for? Help children form pairs to look at one another's ears (without touching). If possible, offer each pair a mirror so children can examine their own ears.
2 Talk about the importance of never sticking anything inside your ears. Teach the rule: "Don't put anything in your ear but your elbow." Let children have fun trying to get their elbows to their ears.
3 Put on some music and invite children to close their eyes. Play a group listening game by turning the volume up and down. Ask children to raise their hands when the volume gets so low they can't hear anymore. Next, let them cover and uncover their ears with their hands. After each activity, ask children to describe what they heard.
4 Set out different hollow items for children to listen through. Demonstrate how they work, then let children explore them independently. What do they hear through the objects?
For younger children: Invite children to sing loudly, then softly. Now ask children to sing loudly and gradually decrease their volume until they are singing in a whisper. Encourage children to discuss how the different sounds make them feel.
For older children: Provide a wooden dowel or a smooth, blunt-ended stick, and different objects that children can gently bang on to hear the sounds they make. Encourage children to identify the objects that produce the loudest and softest sounds.
Talk about hearing disabilities. Explain that some people's ears can't hear well. Invite someone who uses a hearing aid to show how it works. Or read a book about a child who uses a hearing aid, such as Button in Her Ear by Ada B. Litchfield (Albert Whitman).
Armadillo Tattletale* by Helen Ketteman (Scholastic, 2003; $4)
The Ear Book by Al Perkins (Random House, 1976; $9)
You Can't Smell a Flower with Your Ear! by Beverly Collins (Penguin, 1994; $4)