“She's a burrito” children called out with their wide eyes and big smiles. It was essential I clear the deck from burrito land and declare my potato essence! I always wear a costume and this one was designed to grab attention for a lesson on quality listening. My potato-ness grabbed that kiddo quality listening immediately!
Children were thrilled to receive a potato which I pointed out has only eyes to listen with. I asked them how they felt if a person pretended to be listening but was only listening with just eyes while doing an activity or just ears while looking away or walking around doing something else. I acted that out asking a child to tell me something. There's proof in the puddin'!
Not one child liked any of the less-than-quality-listening options as I role-played different scenarios. Little voices piped up...”My mom texts when I talk and doesn't pay attention. She doesn't listen.” “My dad reads stuff when I talk and doesn't look up.”
Using puppets, I demonstrated good listening and bad listening. I held up a potato and showed them a potato's ability to only listen with eyes and no ears. I pointed out that the sour cream and chives on my potato I was wearing was like the good kind of listening with eyes, ears and whole body.
SUPERKIDS come to learn that good listening is a superpower. Good listening
is more than a skill. Attentive focus when someone is speaking is a connector and provides a feeling of being paid attention to as well as being heard as a whole person. Ears alone cannot provide that kind of quality connection. Quality listening is one of the nicest gifts we can give to someone and respect what a person has to share.
I asked the children if they liked it when somebody listens with ears, eyes and whole body facing them. Acting through these variations in my potato costume, there was a unanimous vote for eyes, ears and whole body attention that FELT good to the children. I instructed the children to practice LISTENING with eyes, ears and whole body while I shared a story. I gave them feedback and the fantastic job they did with SUPERKID POWER good listening skills using their eyes, ears and whole body focus.
According to Lumen Learning, effective listening is about self-awareness.
You must pay attention to whether or not you are only hearing, passively listening, or actively engaging. A normal attention span is 3 to 5 minutes per year of a child's age, in general, their research indicates. Therefore, a 2 year old should be able to concentrate on a particular task for at least 6 minutes and a child entering kindergarten should be able to concentrate for at least 15 minutes.
Education Live News encourages adults to teach students to listen with their whole bodies.
Instructing the children to color the difference of two people not listening to each other and two people who DID listen to each other was also enlightening for them to see. It gave them an outlet to SHOW what they feel in the two different situations and, of course, they took their artwork home to share with the family. In addition, I provided a copy of that handout to send home to the parents to color. That way everyone was clued into the feelings of what not listening and having quality listening meant to each other. TaDa!!!!
Strengthening the family system with handouts AND the take-home decorated potato made for a solid experience and opportunity for discussion where children learned from the family how important their good listening is.
We drummed and sang our potato listening song with big smiles:
I CAN LISTEN WITH MY EARS.
WITH MY EYES I CAN SEE!
BETTER THAN A POTATO,
I LISTEN WITH ALL OF ME!
After practicing active listening with the children, I gave them each a potato to decorate, putting ears and other decor to make the potato a whole body. Then they used their potatoes to share something with each other paying full attention THEMSELVES as they guided their potatoes to be good SUPERKID listeners. They had a blast with their listening skills thanks to potatoes helping them with this unforgettable lesson!
My Superkid Power Guidebook has a great section on Listening with more activities that children enjoy.
www.superkidpower.org for free video and downloads of activities and handouts
www.grandmaboom.com for listing of books on Amazon including Superkid Power Guidebook