Listening Safari

Here's one for the kids (and any grown ups who like to act like kids)! Practicing mindfulness can be quite fun!

I have found that a great way to get children interested and engaged in mindfulness training is by inviting them to participate in a way that they already feel comfortable doing.

Most children are eager to let their imaginations run free. The animal ears activity is a fun way to bring mindfulness into creative play.

Perk up those ears! What do you hear?

Perk up those ears! What do you hear?

The intent here is to foster mindful listening—an open awareness of sound without judgment. Inviting children to pay attention to the sounds around them is an easy entry into mindfulness. And getting to do so through play makes it all the more fun.

With your child, brainstorm some animals that have good hearing. Each of you can choose one of these animals to ‘be’ for this activity. Together, put on your animals’ ears. Now pretend that you are out in the wild and need to be extra still and extra quiet in order to listen to all of the sounds around you. You may even invite them to close their eyes so that they are relying only on their animal ears.

Try this for about a minute, or longer if they are enjoying it! You could even try it in a few different environments--inside, outside, at the park, etc.

After you have finished listening to your environment(s), share what you heard. Did you hear loud sounds? Quiet sounds? Sounds from inside your body? Other animals? Vehicles? Ask your child how the different sounds made them feel. As an animal, did it make him want to run and hide? Go out hunting? Stay still?

Finally, invite your child to draw a picture of some of the sounds she heard that she doesn’t usually hear.

You can take a listening safari together at home, or even on a walk outside (though, you may want to keep your eyes open for that!).

I’d love to hear in the comments what animals you were, and what sounds you noticed. :-)