Classroom Listening Center
I have always loved having a listening center! And there are so many great benefits to having a listening center in your classroom. I’m excited to share some engaging and effective ideas for setting up a listening center and using it in a way that will help your students develop into stronger readers. So, are you ready to learn more about listening learning centers? Let’s go!
In addition to massive appeal to your auditory listeners, listening centers are also a great way for students to explore and comprehend literature that may be above their reading level. Research suggests that listening to reading strengthens literacy development and is an important element of becoming successful readers.
Listening Centers are a teacher favorite because they can help your students with reading fluency too! When kids listen to a story that’s read and modeled by a fluent reader, they learn to be expressive and learn proper pronunciation as well. From there, their own fluency will grow, and then their comprehension will naturally improve too!
Listening centers can also help children develop their understanding of key concepts such as sequencing events, identifying main ideas, summarizing stories, as well as recognizing different sounds in words. Listening centers can also be used to build language awareness as well as help children with pronunciation and vocabulary building. Students are exposed to vocabulary that they may not otherwise be exposed to.
Setting up a Listening Center
Back in the day (that makes me sound really old), listening centers were often cassette players with cassette tapes you had to rewind before a student could listen again. Then, CD players made their way into classrooms and things became much easier. And now, there are QR codes that can link to YouTube or other platforms so you can use devices to listen to stories without having hard copies of the books. I will talk about those QR codes in just a bit.
Setting up a listening center is super simple!
- If you are going to use actual books and a CD, you will need a CD player. I recommend a top-loading CD player. I put little stickers on the buttons that I want students to press. Green=Play, Red=Stop, Yellow=Power. Nothing revolutionary there! If you want to skip the CD player, add a tablet to this learning center and you’re all set.
- Headphones… ah, headphones… they drive me batty. If you are the same, you can train your students to keep the volume low and it shouldn’t disrupt others. If you don’t mind headphones, have 2 working sets ready to go (or however many you need so that each student has their own) If you have a classroom wish list, a CD player and headphones could be a great gift from parents!
- Get yourself a basket to keep all of the listening center materials organized. If you keep supplies (crayons, glue sticks, scissors, etc) at the center, it will keep students from going back and forth to their desks and interfering with other students along the way.
Listening Center Books
A question I often get asked is, where do you get books for the listening center? Scholastic! Every month, they USUALLY have a set of books with audio CDs that are pretty seasonal and engaging for students. In the past, I bought every set of listening center books that became available and stored each book and CD in Ziploc bags so they were easily accessible to toss into the listening center each week.
Listening Center Activities
Most stories are finished in about 8 minutes. Students are at literacy centers for 20 minutes. So, I wanted a way to keep my kindergarten friends engaged the entire time. So, I started creating student response sheets. These engaging activities were exactly what my students needed to extend their learning at the listening center.
Earlier I mentioned QR codes. I have used QR codes in the listening center in two ways. If you don’t have books on CDs, you can easily make mp3 files by recording yourself reading a book. Then, upload the file and create a QR code for students to scan in order to listen to the story. This is great to do if you have a ton of books but no CDs to go with them. I have a set of response activities that do not include QR codes. However, you could easily record the story for your students so that these response sheets could be used. Some of my favorite titles in this set are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, The Kissing Hand, and several books by Laura Numeroff. Kindergarteners love the “If You Give…” series.
Another way I’ve used QR codes is to link the story to a recording of the book on YouTube. In this set of student response activities, those QR codes are included. I always recommend using a copy of the book if you have it, but if not, this is a great option so students have access to the story. (These images don’t show the QR code because the response sheets were since updated.)
In addition to the written response activities, there are also colored image cards for some of the stories. These are great to print and use in a pocket chart during centers or also as a whole group activity.
Nonfiction Listening Center Activities
I recently added a new set of listening center activities that are nonfiction. I sort of LOVE them! We used National Geographic Explore My World titles. These books are great for early learners! Plus, many of the topics align very nicely with the science standards. For this set of books, we created a video of our own recording of the book so it doesn’t link to YouTube (which can sometimes be blocked by the school firewall). However, there is also a QR code that links to YouTube in case that is what you prefer.
Students scan the QR code and listen to the nonfiction book. Then, they complete a student response activity. You could easily use these activities during literacy centers but also as a science activity for your whole group.
So much learning can happen during literacy centers in your classroom. Here are a few more ideas for you:
Listening Center Free File
I whipped a new listening center free file for Bear’s Loose Tooth. I included response sheets with QR codes and also without QR codes. Add your name and email address to the boxes below and the free file will be sent to your inbox. Enjoy!