38 Fun Auditory Processing Exercises for Children

A family with two adults and two children in a bright, modern living room, happily playing one of the fun auditory processing exercises for children from SpecialEdResource.com

If your child has been diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder, you’re likely looking for ways to support them. Recognizing the challenges is the first step, but finding fun, effective activities to enhance their auditory processing skills is where you can truly make a difference. 

This blog provides 38 practical auditory processing exercises that children will enjoy.

From listening to games that sharpen sound discrimination to fun ways to boost auditory memory, we’re here to support you and your child every step of the way.

Understanding Auditory Processing Difficulties

A central auditory processing disorder means the brain and the ears aren’t in perfect harmony. Sounds might get lost from the ear to the brain, making it tricky for kids to understand what they hear the same way others do. 

It’s not about hearing itself, which is usually fine, but about how the brain processes those sounds.

The good news? 

Just like muscles get stronger with exercise, the brain can get better at processing sounds with practice. 

These auditory activities shared here do just that.

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These activites target specific areas that often challenge kids with auditory processing disorders, such as: 

  • Distinguishing different sounds
  • Remembering what they hear
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Identifying sounds in the environment
  • Understanding the rhythm of speech
  • Following directions

Think of these exercises as fun, daily workouts for the brain, gradually improving your child’s ability to process sounds more effectively.

Auditory Discrimination Games

Sound discrimination is a critical skill in auditory processing. It’s about noticing the differences between sounds, like the subtle change between the words “bat” and “pat” or the sound of a car horn versus a bicycle bell. 

This ability is crucial for understanding speech, learning to read, and navigating everyday life.

Improving sound discrimination can make a big difference for children with auditory processing problems. 

We can help them sharpen this skill through simple games. This makes it easier for them to follow conversations, enjoy short stories, and learn new words. 

Here are some games that are not only effective but also lots of fun:

#1 Sound Bingo: 

Create bingo cards with pictures of common sounds (animals, instruments, daily noises). Play these sounds, and have your child mark them on their card. 

It’s a fun way to practice identifying different sounds and distinguishing between them.

#2 Guess the Sound: 

Record various sounds or find sound clips online. Play them back and have your child guess what they are. Start with more distinct sounds, gradually moving to more similar ones.

This fun game boosts their ability to discern and categorize sounds, enhancing their auditory association skills.

#3 Musical Chairs with a Twist:

Play musical chairs, but use different sound cues instead of stopping the music to signal when to find a chair. 

For example, the sound of water means sit and swim, while a dog barking means keep walking. 

This encourages attentive listening and quick sound discrimination.

#4 “Find the Musical Instrument” Game:

Play various musical instrument sounds (real or clips from YouTube) and have your child identify the instruments. 

For an added challenge, have several instruments play together and ask them to identify all the musical instruments they hear. 

This exercise helps distinguish between different musical tones and pitches.

#5 “Directional Sound Tag”:

In a safe, open space, blindfold your child and make sounds from different directions. The task is for your child to point or move toward the source of the sound. 

This activity not only works on sound discrimination but also helps with spatial awareness and the ability to judge the direction of sounds.

#6 Musical Rhythms:

Use familiar tunes to teach new information or give directions by substituting the lyrics with instructions or facts. 

For example, to the tune of a well-known song like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, create a version that instructs on bedtime routines

You can use an instrumental version of the song like this one. This playful method helps children differentiate between sounds and understand rhythm and beat, which is vital in processing auditory information.

#7 Story Soundtrack:

While reading a story, pause to insert sounds that match the narrative. Have your child identify and relate these sounds to the story, enhancing their sound discrimination skills as they connect sounds with specific story elements.

Use sound words such as: 

  • Woosh
  • Drip
  • Woof
  • Meow

These different games turn learning into play, making it an enjoyable experience for your child to develop better sound discrimination, a fundamental building block for effective auditory processing.

Auditory Memory Games

Auditory memory plays a vital role in daily activities, forming the foundation for skills in a child’s life, such as: 

  • Oral communication skills
  • Following instructions
  • Recalling details from conversations
  • Learning new vocabulary
  • Deciphering sound patterns
  • Sequence events

It’s the ability to listen, remember, and then recall or use that information later, like remembering a list of tasks to do or the storyline of a book. 

Strengthening comprehensive auditory memory can significantly improve academic performance, social interactions, and overall confidence for children with auditory processing disorders.

Here are different ways to boost auditory memory in a fun and supportive way:

#8 Repeat After Me:

This classic game involves saying a series of words or numbers and having your child repeat them back to you. 

Gradually increase the length of the series to challenge and improve their short-term memory. To make it more engaging, incorporate themes or topics your child is interested in.

#9 Story Chain:

Start a story with one sentence, then have your child add another, and so on, back and forth. 

Try to make the story as long as possible, encouraging your child to remember and build upon what was said before. 

This not only boosts auditory sequential memory but also creativity and language skills.

#10 Daily Recap Sessions:

At the end of the day, have a casual chat with your child about what happened throughout their day. This can be a family dinnertime ritual or car ride conversation. 

Ask specific questions that require them to recall and articulate their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. 

This helps reinforce their day’s auditory experiences and enhance memory retention.

#11 Command Sequences:

Give your child a series of simple commands to follow, starting with two and gradually increasing the number as they improve. 

For example, “Pick up the toy and put it on the shelf.” This activity helps students remember and process a sequence of verbal instructions.

#12 Listening for Details:

Play a short story or narrative on an audio device. After listening, ask your child specific questions about the story to see what details they can recall. 

You can increase the stories’ complexity and the questions’ detail as their auditory memory improves.

#13 Simon Says with Sequences:

Play “Simon Says” with a twist by using sequences of actions. 

Start with simple commands and gradually increase the complexity, enhancing your child’s ability to remember and execute auditory instructions.

#14 The Shopping Game:

Play a memory game where one person says, “I went to the store and bought…” Each subsequent player repeats the previous items and adds a new one. 

This game challenges and improves sequential auditory memory in a fun, relatable context.

#15 Sequence Spotting:

Ask your child to identify when a familiar sequence (like days of the week, alphabet, or numbers) is out of order. 

This tests their auditory memory and encourages auditory attention to detail in sequences.

#16 Story Recall:

Tell a short story, and then ask your child to retell it in the correct order. This activity helps reinforce the memory of auditory information by encouraging the child to recall and sequence the story details.

#17 Number and Letter Series:

Challenge your child to repeat a series of random numbers or letters, increasing the length of the series over time. 

They should start with sequences they can repeat forward and then try sequences they can repeat backward, fostering both immediate and working auditory memory skills.

Incorporating these different things into your child’s routine can significantly enhance their ability to remember and process auditory information, improving learning, communication, and daily functioning.

Phonemic Awareness Exercises

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and play with the individual sounds, or phonemes, in spoken words. 

Phonemic awareness is a foundational skill for reading and spelling. It involves recognizing that you can mix and change the sounds that make words.

Developing phonemic awareness can help children recognize patterns in language, making it easier for them to learn to read and spell.

#18 Rhyming Riddles:

Engage your child with simple riddles that focus on rhyming words

For example, “What is a word that rhymes with cat and is something you might wear?” (Answer: “hat”). 

This game encourages children to listen for and produce rhyming sounds, a critical component of phonemic awareness.

#19 Sound Substitution Game:

Play a game where you change one sound in a word to make a new word. 

For example, change the /m/ in “mat” to an /r/ to make “rat.” This helps children understand how changing phonemes change words, reinforcing their understanding of the sound structure of language.

#20 Phoneme Segmentation Fun:

Have your child break down words into individual sounds. 

For example, “dog” has three sounds: /d/ /o/ /g/. 

You can use toys or counters to represent each sound, helping the child visualize the segmentation.

#21 Beginning Sound Bingo:

Create bingo cards with pictures and call out words that start with different sounds. Players cover the picture if they have one that matches the beginning sound. 

This game focuses on initial phonemes, helping children to identify and differentiate the first sounds in words.

#22 “I Spy” with Sounds:

Play “I Spy,” focusing on the sounds at the beginning of words instead of the letters. 

For example, “I spy with my little eye, something that starts with the /b/ sound.” 

This encourages children to listen carefully to the sounds that words start with, which is a fun way to practice phonemic awareness.

These activities aim to educate and entertain, creating a playful environment where children can develop their phonemic awareness.

Each game focuses on different aspects of phonemic awareness, from rhyming to sound substitution, segmentation, and identification, offering a well-rounded approach to mastering this crucial skill.

Rhythm and Beat Activities

Rhythm and beat are the musical backbone that helps organize our sounds into understandable patterns. 

These elements are not only foundational to music; they’re also essential for speech and language development. Recognizing and replicating rhythms can improve auditory memory, attention, and the ability to process and produce language patterns. 

Here are some simple activities to help children recognize and replicate rhythms:

#23 Homemade Drum Circle:

Gather various household items that can serve as drums (pots, boxes, plastic containers) and drumsticks (spoons, pencils, sticks). 

Create a circle and start a simple beat, encouraging your child to replicate it. Take turns making up different rhythms for everyone to copy. 

This activity enhances listening skills and the ability to reproduce rhythmic patterns.

#24 Rhythm Clap Back:

Clap or tap out a short rhythmic pattern and have your child clap or tap it back to you. Start with simple patterns and gradually increase the complexity as your child becomes more comfortable. 

This game is excellent for developing auditory memory and the ability to process and replicate rhythmic sequences.

#25 Rhythm Matching Game:

You can use recordings of different rhythmic patterns or make your own with a musical instrument. Play a pattern and present two or three options for children to choose which one matches. 

This game encourages careful listening and distinguishing between similar rhythmic sequences.

#26 Beat the Story:

Everyone must clap or tap in a predefined rhythm for a specific word or phrase when reading a story aloud

This integrates rhythm with language processing, reinforcing the connection between rhythmic patterns and auditory comprehension.

These activities support the development of crucial auditory processing skills and provide a fun and interactive way for children to engage with sounds, rhythms, and beats, enhancing their overall language and communication abilities.

Environmental Sound Identification

Developing the ability to identify and differentiate everyday sounds is an auditory skill that helps children better understand and navigate their environment. 

This skill enhances their listening abilities, improves their attention to auditory details, and aids their cognitive development by connecting sounds to their sources.

Here are some activities to help children develop their environmental sound identification skills:

#27 Nature Sound Walks:

Walk in a natural setting, such as a beach, forest, or park. Encourage your child to close their eyes momentarily and focus on different sounds they can hear. 

Afterward, discuss the sources of these sounds and their characteristics. This activity helps children attune to the subtle sounds in their environment and learn to identify them.

#28 “What’s That Sound?” Scavenger Hunt:

Create a scavenger hunt list with sounds for your child to find, such as a barking dog, a car horn, or birds chirping. As they identify each sound, they can check it off their list. 

This game makes listening for and identifying specific sounds in their environment an exciting challenge.

#29 Sound Mapping:

Give your child a piece of paper and crayons or markers. Sit in a quiet outdoor space and ask them to draw a map of where they think sounds are coming from. 

For example, they can draw birds in the trees, a dog barking from a neighbor’s house, or a car passing by on the street. This helps children visualize sound sources and strengthens their directional listening skills.

#30 Indoor Sound Tour:

Walk around your home with your child and pause in each room to listen quietly. Identify and list the sounds heard in each room, for example, the hum of a refrigerator or the tick of a clock. 

This activity helps children become more aware of the sounds in their everyday indoor environment.

#31 Environmental Sound Bingo:

Create bingo cards with sounds specific to different sounds in the environment.  

Ideas of environments include: 

  • Kitchen sounds– Microwave, stove timer, water running, dishwasher
  • Playground sounds– Sounds of swings, merry-go-round, birds, leaves blowing
  • Bathroom sounds– Toilet flushing, shower, blow dryer

 

As children explore, they mark off the sounds they hear in real time, tuning their ears to notice and differentiate environmental sounds.

Here are some Environment Bingo cards to check out. 

#32 Guess the Sound Game:

Record household or outdoor sounds on your phone or find sound clips online. Play them back and have your child guess the source of each sound. 

You can make this more challenging by using less common or similar-sounding sources. This game encourages careful listening and sound differentiation.

Engaging in these activities will improve children’s ability to identify and differentiate everyday sounds and enhance their overall auditory processing abilities, making them more attentive and responsive to the sounds around them.

Following Directions Games

Following auditory directions is essential for children’s learning and everyday functioning. It involves listening, processing the heard information, and acting upon it. 

Enhancing this ability can improve a child’s attention span, listening skills, and executive functioning.

Here are some activities to practice following directions:

#33 Colorful Commands:

This game involves giving your child instructions based on colors. 

For example, “Touch something red” or “Bring me something blue.” As your child becomes more adept, you can increase the complexity of the commands, such as “After you touch something green, sit on a chair that is not brown.” 

This activity helps children listen carefully and process multi-step instructions.

#34 Obstacle Course Navigator:

Set up a simple obstacle course in your home or yard. Give your child verbal instructions to navigate it, like “Crawl under the table, then hop to the tree.” 

This game makes following directions fun with movement, combining auditory processing with gross motor skills.

#35 Cooking by Command:

Engage your child in a cooking activity where they must follow verbal instructions to complete a recipe. 

Start with something simple and safe, like making a sandwich or a no-bake dessert. This activity not only practices following directions but also introduces sequences and measuring.

#36 Story-Based Actions:

Read a story to your child, pausing to give them related actions to perform. 

For example, if a character jumps over a puddle, have your child stand up and pretend to jump over a puddle, too. This activity ties auditory directions to comprehension and physical activity, making it a holistic learning experience.

#37 “Freeze & Go” Dance Party:

Play music and dance together. When the music stops, shout out a direction (“Freeze!”, “Jump high!”, “Turn around!”) that your child has to follow before the music starts again. 

This variation of musical statues integrates listening skills with quick physical responses to directions.

#38 Red Light, Green Light:

In this classic game, one person plays the “traffic light” and stands at one end of the playing area while the children line up at the other. 

When the traffic light shouts “Green light!” the children start moving towards them. Everyone must freeze immediately as soon as “Red light!” is called. 

The goal is to reach the traffic light without moving during a red light. If the traffic light catches anyone moving after saying “Red light,” that player must return to the starting line. 

The game continues until someone reaches the traffic light and becomes the new traffic light for the next round. 

This is an excellent game for extra listening practice of oral directions while providing a fun and dynamic learning method.

Incorporating these following directions games not only aids in developing important auditory processing skills but also strengthens children’s ability to pay attention, remember instructions, and execute tasks—a set of skills beneficial for classroom learning and everyday life.

Next Steps…

These activities boost skills essential for academic success and daily interactions. They are invaluable for children, especially those facing auditory processing challenges.

By incorporating these auditory processing activities, you’re providing your child with the tools to improve their auditory skills and fostering a fun and supportive learning environment. 

Regular practice can lead to noticeable improvements in listening, comprehension, memory, and the ability to follow instructions.

Remember, the journey to improved auditory processing is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience and consistency are key. 

Celebrate small victories and progress, and maintain a positive, encouraging attitude. Your commitment to regular practice will pay off, helping your child build confidence and skills to benefit them for a lifetime.

Additional Resources

You may want to check out these additional resources for parents: 

 

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A family with two adults and two children in a bright, modern living room, happily playing one of the fun auditory processing exercises for children from SpecialEdResource.com
Does your child have APD? Try these fun auditory processing exercises to help improve their ability to process sounds effectively.

 

 

 

Shannah Holt

Shannah Holt

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