• When making up alliterative jingles, draw attention to the similarities in sounds at the beginning of words and emphasise the initial sound, e.g. mmmmummy,   shshshshadow, K-K-K-KKaty.
  • Plan activities listening carefully to different speech sounds, e.g. a sound chain copying the voice sound around the circle, or identifying other children’s voices on tape.
  • When singing or saying rhymes, talk about the similarities in the rhyming words. Make up alternative endings and encourage children to supply the last word of the second line, e.g. Hickory Dickory bee, The mouse ran down the…
  • Set up a listening area or other opportunities where children can enjoy rhymes and stories. either independently or with an adult.
  • Provide instruments for musical play.
  • Provide opportunities to listen in different kinds of environments e.g. outdoor spaces, dens, large and small rooms and buildings
  • Explore different kinds of surfaces and how noise bounces off them,
  • Talk with children about how we listen differently to different things, for example animals and types of music.


  • Use puppets and other props to encourage listening and responding when singing a familiar song or reading from a story book.
  • Encourage children to learn one another’s names and to pronounce them correctly.
  • Ensure all practitioners can pronounce the names of children, parents and other practitioners.
  • Find out parents’ preferred names for themselves and their children.
  • Where possible minimise background noise and visual distractions in the environment, and ensure spaces are separated enough for children to listen to each other. 
  • Encourage talk in all spaces, both indoors and outdoors.


  • Collect resources that children can listen to and learn to distinguish between. These may include games that involve guessing which object makes a particular sound
  • Encourage listening in its widest sense; this could include opportunities to listen to human noises, non-human noises, objects that make interesting noise, weather and other outdoor sounds.
  • Provide opportunities to listen to the sounds of the local area, the home and the natural world.
  • Listen to sounds that are easily identifiable and mysterious noises that are not. Model and encourage playful imaginative responses.


  • Share stories, songs and rhymes from all cultures and in babies’ home languages and other languages common in communities.
  • Share favourite stories, songs, rhymes or music as babies are settling to sleep, or at other quiet times.
  • Sing frequently with young babies, encouraging them to join in.
  • Create an environment which invites responses from babies and adults, for example, touching, smiling, smelling, feeling, listening, exploring, describing and sharing.
  • Establish a familiar pattern by spending prolonged moments of time each day interacting with the baby, or a small group of babies.
  • Consider what it feels like to use your voice in your environment – what kinds of soundscape and sensory atmosphere do children experience? Is the invitation to “join in” with this environment, using voices, bodies and objects to make noise, irresistible?


  • Engage in role play and imaginary play scenarios and  model listening behaviours.
  • Encourage children to listen to their friends and take turns in play and activities.
  • Make mistakes when telling stories/singing songs so the children correct you.
  • Cue children, particularly those with communication difficulties, to listen by first using their name, and signal a change of conversation, e.g. Now we are going to talk about…
  • Share rhymes, books and stories from many cultures, sometimes using languages other than English, particularly where children are learning English as an additional language.
  • Invite parents and members of wider communities to story-telling opportunities, so children can use their full language repertoire. Children then hear a range of languages, and the value of home languages as well as English.
  • Introduce “rhyme time” bags containing books that are relevant to the communities of your setting.  Encourage taking these home, and involve parents in rhymes and singing games.
  • Ask parents to record and share songs and rhymes that have meaning to them, their family and community.
  • Choose stories with repeated refrains, dances and action songs involving looking and pointing, and songs that require replies and turn-taking.
  • Plan regular short periods when individuals listen to others, such as singing a short song, sharing an experience or describing something they have seen or done.
  • Play games which involve listening for a signal, such as Simon Says, and use Ready, steady…go!
  • Use opportunities to stop and listen carefully for environmental sounds, and talk about sounds you can hear using words such as long, short, high, low.
  • Play with sand timers to help extend concentration for children who find it difficult to focus their attention on a task.
  • Explain why it is important to pay attention by looking and listening when others are speaking.
  • Give children opportunities both to speak and to listen, ensuring that the needs of children learning English as an additional language are met, so that they can participate fully starting with simple actions and gestures, progressing to single words and phrases, and then to using more complex sentences.


  • Model being a listener by listening to children and taking account of what they say in your responses to them.
  • Have conversations with children as part of everyday activities
  • Play alongside children and talk with them as part of playful encounters
  • Model and encourage language for thinking by using phrase such as I wonder…, What if…,  I have an idea.
  • Encourage repetition, rhythm and rhyme by using tone and intonation as you tell, recite or sing stories, poems and rhymes from books.
  • Be aware of and actively support the needs of children learning English as an additional language from a variety of cultures and ask parents to share their favourite stories, rhymes and songs in their home languages.


  • Use natural gestures and/or signing e.g. waving “bye-bye”.
  • Let the child choose the activity and follow their interest .
  • Use percussion instruments to take turns.
  • Sing songs and encourage repetitive action rhymes.
  • Play alongside the child and talk together.
  • Encourage young children to explore and imitate sound.
  • Talk about the different sounds they hear, such as a tractor’s chug chug while sharing a book.


  • Get physically close making sure the baby can see your face. Make sure the baby is looking at you and wants to interact. This will help the baby to observe faces and notice communications.
  • Show that you are present and tuned in by using eye contact and touch to create shared moments of interaction.
  • Be attentive and leave space for the baby to start a “serve and return” conversation.
  • Use a range of animated facial expressions to show babies you are interested in them.
  • Use a lively voice with ups and downs to help babies tune in.
  • Say the baby’s name to draw their attention.
  • Imitate the baby’s responses to show you notice and value their contributions. 
  • Encourage playfulness, laughter, turn-taking and responses, using “peek-a-boo” and action rhymes.
  • Sing songs and rhymes during everyday routines.
  • Use repeated sounds, and words and phrases so babies can begin to recognise particular sounds.
  • Pay attention to babies’ teasing and emergence of humour.  They may use inanimate objects to tease and provoke your reaction.
  • Follow the baby’s focus and pay joint attention to what they are interested in.


  • Shows variability in listening behaviour; may move around and fiddle but still be listening or sit still but not absorbed by activity
  • May indicate two-channelled attention, e.g. paying attention to something of interest for short or long periods; can both listen and do for short span


  • Listens to others in one-to-one or small groups, when conversation interests them
  • Listens to familiar stories with increasing attention and recall
  • Joins in with repeated refrains and anticipates key events and phrases in rhymes and stories
  • Focusing attention – can still listen or do, but can change their own focus of attention
  • Is able to follow directions (if not intently focused)


  • Listens with interest to the noises adults make when they read stories
  • Recognises and responds to many familiar sounds, e.g. turning to a knock on the door, looking at or going to the door
  • Shows interest in play with sounds, songs and rhymes
  • Single channelled attention; can shift to a different task if attention fully obtained – using child’s name helps focus.


  • Listens to and enjoys rhythmic patterns in rhymes and stories, trying to join in with actions or vocalisations
  • Enjoys rhymes and demonstrates listening by trying to join in with actions or vocalisations
  • Pays attention to own choice of activity, may move quickly from activity to activity


  • Moves whole body to sounds they enjoy, such as music or a regular beat
  • Concentrates intently on an object or activity of own choosing for short periods
  • Pays attention to dominant stimulus – easily distracted by noises or other people talking.
  • Enjoys laughing and being playful with others


  • Turns toward a familiar sound then locates range of sounds with accuracy
  • Listens to, distinguishes and responds to intonations and sounds of voices
  • Reacts in interaction with others by smiling, looking and moving
  • Quietens or alerts to the sound of speech
  • Looks intently at a person talking, but stops responding if speaker turns away
  • Listens to familiar sounds, words, or finger plays
  • Fleeting Attention – not under child’s control, new stimuli takes whole attention