Before a young child can differentiate between the various sounds in words, he must first be able to recognize similar sounds in the environment and notice when sounds differ. This game will help your toddler develop his budding listening and sound discrimination skills.
NOTE: Since the items used to fill the shakers are small, use only under close adult supervision. Before beginning, ensure that all shakers are securely closed.
- four to six small, plastic containers with lids (plastic eggs, margarine tubs, plastic containers)
- safe, nontoxic materials that make interesting sounds if shaken (cereal pieces, paperclips, uncooked pasta, rice, or birdseed)
- tape to seal the lids
Step 1: Prepare the shakers to be used with this activity.
- Fill two containers with the same material, such as birdseed.
- Fill two additional containers with the same material, such as cereal pieces.
- If desired, fill two more containers with the same material, such as uncooked pasta.
- You should end up with two or three pairs of shakers.
- Label each container on the bottom with the type of material. (This will help you easily determine if your child has found a match.)
Before beginning, ensure that all shakers are securely closed. Place all of the shakers out so your toddler can see them.
Step 2: Choose one shaker and shake it near your own ear. Tell your child to listen carefully and then shake it gently near his ear. Use descriptive language to help your child make sense of what he is hearing. For example, is the sound you hear noisy or quiet? Does it swish, rustle or jingle?
You might say: "The things in this container make a soft and quiet sound. I can hear them swishing together when I shake it.”
Step 3: Encourage your toddler to pick up the other shakers, one at a time, and compare the sound to the first one.
You might say: “Can you find another container that makes a soft swishing sound when you shake it?"
Step 4: Acknowledge your child for listening carefully to all of the sounds in each of the containers.
Step 1: To make it easier, reduce the number of choices and provide visual clues. Provide three shakers, two that make the same sound and are the same type of container, and one with a clearly different sound and in a different container.
Step 2: Invite your toddler to hold and shake each shaker.
Step 3: Choose one shaker, and shake it near your own ear. Tell your toddler to listen carefully and then shake it gently near his ear. Encourage your toddler to find the shaker that sounds the same.
You might say: “Can you find one that sounds like this when you shake it?"
Step 1: To add some challenge, increase the number of choices. Provide three pairs of shakers. Each pair should make the same sound. So you might have two filled with birdseed, two filled with cereal, and two filled with paper clips.
Step 2: Place all of the shakers out so your toddler can see them. Invite your toddler to hold and shake each one and to listen carefully to find the ones that match.
You might say: "Let's find another shaker that sounds like this one."
Step 3: To add even more challenge, increase the skill level. Invite your toddler to...
- locate a container that sounds different (when shaken) from the one he is holding
- locate a container that makes a certain sound (quiet, rustling, jingly) when shaken