Overcoming Obstacles

Standards Addressed

  • Students will practice the skills of taking turns, listening to others, and speaking clearly.
  • Students will use effective communication skills.


  • Students will learn that listening enables you to better understand meaning.

  • Students will understand that listening is different from hearing.

  • Students will understand that listening requires mental concentration.


  • Board or chart paper and markers (“I Do”)

  • “Listening Interview” activity sheet for each student (“You Do”)

Starter (3 minutes)

Gather your students and tell them, “I’m going to show you what being a good listener and what being a bad listener look like.” Then, ask your students, “Who wants to tell me about something fun they did this week?” Call on a student, and as he or she starts to talk, listen and make good eye contact. Next, call on another student, and as the student talks, look around the room, get up from your chair, and turn your back on the student. Ask the student how he or she felt when you were being a bad listener. Tell the class, “Good students and good friends are good listeners.”

Teacher Presented Knowledge / I Do (10 minutes)

Explain to your students, “Today, we are going to learn to listen with our whole bodies, from the top of our heads to the bottom of our feet.” Then create an anchor chart to illustrate the characteristics of whole body listening and review the chart with your students, explaining and modeling each action (or use the “Whole Body Listening Chart” at the end of this lesson):

  • Head (brain) is thinking about what is being said.
  • Eyes are looking at the person who is speaking.
  • Ears hear what people are saying. (If you are deaf, you listen with your eyes, using sign language and lip reading.)
  • Mouth stays closed.
  • Heart cares about what is being said.
  • Hands and feet are still.

Guided Student Practice / We Do (15 minutes)

Lead your class through a game of “Simon Says,” where students perform the motions or actions as you suggest them, but only if they are part of a “Simon Says…” sentence. For example, you could say, “Simon says jump,” “Simon says raise your right hand,” and “Simon says take one step forward,” but be certain to occasionally leave off the “Simon says…” to see just how closely your class is listening.

Student Independent Practice / You Do (30 minutes)

Tell students that they are going to practice listening by interviewing their classmates. Explain that when you interview a person, you ask the person questions to find out information about them.

Tell them, “You are going to go around the room and interview classmates and find out who loves broccoli, who doesn’t feel strongly about broccoli, and who hates broccoli. When you are the interviewer, you are going to ask, ‘Do you like broccoli?’ The person being interviewed can answer only once by saying the word ‘broccoli.’ If you are being interviewed, when you answer the question, you must use your tone to show how you feel about broccoli. You cannot answer more than one time, and you cannot say any other words. It will be important to listen carefully in this game.” (You might want to practice the three tones with the class before having students conduct their interviews.)

Explain that all students will take turns being the interviewer and the interviewee. Pass out the “Listening Interview” activity sheet. Direct students to begin their interviews and check the correct column next to their interviewee’s name to indicate their findings. (Any food item or nonfood item can be substituted for broccoli.)

Closure (5 minutes)

Have members of the class share their findings. Then say, “Raise your hand if you found (student’s name) loved/didn’t feel strongly about/hated broccoli.” For each student, the whole class should have the same response. Remind students that they were able to figure out someone’s preference based on the way they heard a single word.

Student Assessment

  1. Why is it important to listen with your whole body?
  2. What are things you can do to be a better listener?
  3. What does it look like when someone is listening to you?

Extensions for Lesson 1: Listening

Art Extension

Ask students to identify a sound that they regularly hear (for example, cars driving, birds chirping). Once students have each identified a sound, ask them to draw the thing that makes the sound. You can choose to place all of the drawings on a bulletin board labeled “The Sounds of Our World.”

Art Extension

Tell students that they will be making a listening ears headband. Direct students to color and cut out the bunny ears on the “Listening Ears” activity sheet. As they do this, take a “sentence strip” or a 24" wide x 3" high strip of paper, wrap one around each student’s head, mark it, and adhere it to itself in the back to make a headband. After the ears are decorated by the students, cut out and fold each ear vertically in half to make them stiff. Then, adhere them to the headband. Tell students to keep these as a reminder of their “listening ears.” Explain that listening ears are different from normal ears because they involve the whole body—from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet.

Drama Extension

Have students role-play situations where listening is important. (Some examples could include listening while in class, remembering someone’s phone number as they tell it to you, etc.)

Literature Extension

Read Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen, by Howard Binkow, to your class. Ask students, “What happened to Howard when he didn’t listen?” Also ask, “How would you feel if you were Howard’s teacher or friend?” and “What did it look like when Howard started to listen?”

PE Extension

Have students play “Red Light/Green Light.” Ask how listening is important to playing the game.

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