If your child has auditory processing and finds it difficult to concentrate and retain information, here are a few fun activities that you and your child can do together that will target and improve auditory processing skills:

Practice sequencing with sounds

Ask your child to cover his eyes with his hands while you make a noise such as closing the door, sneezing, or playing a key on the piano. Have your child first identify the noise. Then try two noises, one after the other. Your child will then identify the two sounds in sequence. Add the number of sounds in the sequence until your child gets tired with the game. Some ideas for noises are:

  • Whistling
  • Snapping fingers
  • Sharpening a pencil
  • Hammering
  • Tearing paper
  • Slamming a book closed
  • Ringing a bell
  • Blowing a whistle
  • Clapping
  • Coughing
  • Drumming with fingers
  • Hammering
  • Crumpling paper
  • Unwrapping candy

Name the mistake

Recite or read aloud a familiar text, poem or rhyme changing its words or wording. Your child should raise his hand whenever an error occurs. You can change the words, grammar, phonemes and meaning. Also, you can swap word order or word parts. Here are a few examples:

  • Once a time upon…
  • Old McDonald had a fern…
  • Twinkle, twinkle little car…

Clapping syllables

Start out by pronouncing each family member’s name by clapping it syllable by syllable. Then ask your child to say and clap the name along with you. Each clap represents a syllable or word part. After each name has been clapped ask, “how many syllables did you hear?” You can also have your child place two fingers under her chin, so that she can feel her chin drop for each syllable. This also allows your child to feel the vibration of each syllable. 

Sound substitution

In this activity, your child will make new words by replacing the first sound in the word with the target sound. For example, target the phoneme /l/. Ask your child to substitute the /h/ in ‘hand’ with /l/. The word now becomes ‘land.’

Sound sort 

Make picture cards using magazines or computer art. Glue the pictures on index cards and laminate them if you can. Spread selected pictures in front of your child and ask him to find the picture whose name starts with a certain sound. As each picture is found, have your child name the picture and the initial sound. For example you can say, “what picture begins with the sound /s/?” Your child might respond “Snake, /s/.” Examples of some pictures include:

Picture guess

Using the same pictures, place them in a bag. Pick out a picture from the bag and don’t show it to your child.   Pronounce the name of the picture, phoneme by phoneme. For a picture of a cat, you will say /c/ /a/ /t/. Then your son guesses what the picture is from your isolated sounds. Take turns guessing each other’s pictures.

Listen for sounds 

Have your child sit on the floor, close his eyes and identify sounds that you make. You can drop a pencil, bounce a ball, tap on the window, use a stapler, cut with scissors, sip on a cup of coffee or type on your computer. Trade roles and then let the child make different sounds that you have to identify.

Outside noises

Sit outside under a tree with your child. Listen for various sounds like birds chirping, airplanes flying overhead, cars driving by, voices of children playing are pretty fun to identify. You can have a little notebook on hand and keep a list of all of the different sounds you come across.

Repeat after me

Sit across from your child and clap your hands to a rhythmic pattern alternating between slow and fast tempos. Have your child repeat the pattern. You can also use various instruments, play a drum or bounce a ball to a variety of rhythms. Switch roles and let your child be the sound leader as well.

Hide and seek

Hide a metronome or a ticking clock somewhere in your home. Have your child find it by locating the sound. Another variation of this game can be played outside. You can hide somewhere and blow a whistle. The child will then follow the sounds to find where you are hiding.

Read rhyming books

Repetitive rhyming books help children listen carefully to the similar sounds of rhyming words. Some great rhyming books are “Hop on Pop”, “Fox in Socks”, Goose on the Loose” and “Goodnight Moon.”

Sing songs 

Sing songs together that involve repeating previous verses, such as “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”, “Over in the River”, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and “The Green Grass Grows All Around.”

Practice focusing

Read a very simple story to your child with soft music playing in the background. Before reading the story, tell your child to listen for specific pieces of information in the story (for example the main characters name). You can gradually increase the difficulty of the information you want your child to listen for.

Comprehension check 

Read an unfamiliar story to your child. Afterwards ask your child questions about the sequence of events. What happened first, who went to the game, etc. Continue to ask questions until the events in the story have been reviewed. You can also ask your child to predict likely events in the story.


Karina Richland, M.A., is the Founder of PRIDE Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist.   Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can reach her by email at karina@pridelearningcenter.com or visit the PRIDE Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com

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