World Book Day activities: Taking a Listening Walk

Add an extra twist to a walk to the shops or the park by making it a listening walk. Great for slowing down and helping your toddler to focus on the different sounds all around us every day, and a good activity to pair with the book The Listening Walk by Paul Showers.  

Taking a listening walk

Luckily the weather was beautiful and springlike for today’s bookish activity, inspired by The Listening Walk.

In this lovely book, a little girl goes for a walk with her father and dog. She keeps very quiet and concentrates on all the different sounds she can hear as they take their walk. First, along the streets of their neighbourhood – listening to sounds such as feet on the pavement, cars driving by, a lady running for a bus, a noisy building site. Then, into the park, where the sounds are much more gentle: pigeons cooing, ducks on a pond, the wind in the trees. The book finishes by telling us that we can take a listening walk ourselves anywhere – around our park or neighbourhood or even in our back garden. In fact, there are sounds around us all the time, even in our house, and we are invited to take a few moments to be quiet and see what we can hear right now.

ToddlerGirl and I have been reading this book for a few months now and we both really enjoy it. It is actually targeted at a slightly older audience (3+) but it has grabbed ToddlerGirl’s attention from the start. The illustrations are in a beautiful round, chunky style so she likes simply looking at the different images. While the text is quite long and descriptive, I started off by editing this quite a lot as I read aloud, shortening sentences and only including the essential information, such as the actual noises of the various scenes depicted. I also change some of the words as I am reading them as the book is in American English – so I use ‘pavement’ instead of ‘sidewalk’, ‘shoes’ for ‘sneakers’ and so forth.

The obvious activity to do with this book is, you’ve guessed it, to take a listening walk. So that is what we did! We read the book together and I then told ToddlerGirl that we were going to walk up to the shops via the park and listen out for all the different sounds we could hear along the way. I took a lot of time on the walk and made sure to point out and talk about whatever I heard – birds singing, balls on the tennis court, dogs barking, children playing, sirens on the road, cars and buses, an aeroplane and helicopter in the sky.

ToddlerGirl is very interested in noises and does point and interact when there is a sound she recognises, or stops and looks at me if there is a sound she is unfamiliar with, so this was a great activity for her. I especially like how it makes me slow down and engage with the world around me, trying to see the interesting/unusual (to a toddler) in the every day life I take for granted as an adult.

As ToddlerGirl gets older, I will widen the scope of our listening walks – one idea I have at the moment is to create a simple list of pictures for likely sounds we will hear and see if she can identify them as we take our walk. What would you do on a listening walk with your little one?

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