Social Skills

All Things Whole Body Listening!

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This school year, I’m running a social group for children ages 5-7 years old. It is an absolute blast! The first thing I always teach in ALL of my groups at the beginning of the school year is Whole Body Listening. Whole Body Listening is the idea that you need your entire body in order to effectively listen:  you should be looking with your eyes, thinking with your brain, keeping quiet hands, etc…

To target Whole Body Listening, I would recommend buying the Incredible Flexible You curriculum.

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Click here to see Whole Body Listening materials on socialthinking.com or check out the links below to see two of my favorite books:

I use it, and love it, however am always looking for books, crafts, and activities to pair with the materials in the curriculum. Below are tried and true ideas for targeting Whole Body Listening:

The handout below is perfect for sending home so that everyone can explain to their parents all of the components of Whole Body Listening. It is from the Incredible Flexible You curriculum.

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Additionally, I laminated two copies so that I had interactive pieces for each body part. I keep this at the front of the room during the entire group. When I notice that group members are not demonstrating adequate whole body listening, I remove the corresponding part as a cue. For example, if a group member is talking out of turn, I remove the mouth icon. Typically my group members correct their actions with just this! I love it because I don’t need to call them out or name any names, they see a piece removed and alter their behavior without feeling embarrassed.

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Another visual that has been AMAZING for social group is the one below. I know it is technically for the Body in the Group lesson, but it is so related to Whole Body Listening that I thought I would include it. If you want this printable sheet, click here! You should be able to download it and use it for free 🙂

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The first day of group I took a picture of each group member and myself. Each day when the kiddos arrive to group, they find their picture and “put themselves in the group”. Then, similar to the visual explained above, if they ever leave the group, I remove them from the sheet. This is also what I use for “attendance” and “checking in” so it suits many different needed. Additionally, when we take movement groups as a break, we all take our pictures off of the sheet to indicate that we aren’t all staying together or working anymore. The kids love it!

To initially introduce whole body listening, or as a short reminder activity, we read this interactive book from Crazy Speech World.

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You can see what else is included in this awesome packet here.

I’m pretty obsessed with crafts, so we do a ton of activities and crafts surrounding whole body listening as well! Below are some easy crafts and activities I’ve done that kids love!

Typically on the first day I introduce it, we have some free play time with Mr. Potato Heads.

Then, we glue on paper parts to a Mr. Potato Head while describing what you do with each body part when listening. For example, you listen with your eyes, you keep your arms still, etc…

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The following week, we apply the same principles to our own bodies! I print the picture I took in the first week and we label the body parts!

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Last, I love to hand out Lego minifigures. They make great fidgets while reinforcing whole body listening concepts.

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I love to “pause!!” the group and have them explain if their Lego man is being a good listener or not. For example, “Mine isn’t because his arms are up and he isn’t looking!”

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Additionally, after my group understands Whole Body Listening and I’ve read the books included in the Incredible Flexible You curriculum, I enjoy reading picture books and applying the concepts! Below are my favorites for discussing Whole Body Listening:

In order to keep all of this organized, I keep materials in an expandable file folder and keep my books in a book bin (labeled Whole Body Listening) in my speech material closet.

Hope this was helpful! Whole body listening really is a fantastic thing to teach at the beginning of the school year, and to refresh on/reference throughout the school year!

{thanks for reading}

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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    Christina
    October 4, 2015 at 11:29 PM

    I had been looking for some good material on exactly this subject! Thank you!! 🙂

    1. Reply
      Shannon
      October 5, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      You’re welcome! Glad it was useful for you!

  2. Reply
    Daria O'Brien
    October 6, 2015 at 11:48 AM

    I love your ideas to practice WBL–it’s a concept that I need to revisit again and again with my groups and I am always looking for refreshing ways to present! I especially like your idea for “Body in the Group”–unfortunately the use of play-doh as suggested by MGW has never worked for my students because they can’t resist the temptation of playing and sculpting! I am implementing your idea ASAP–thanks!

  3. Reply
    Jessica McDonald
    March 23, 2016 at 12:27 AM

    Just got The Incredible Flexible You this year and have been looking for blogs to follow on how to implement the program. I am glad I found this. 🙂

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