The Sound Signal activity helps children to sharpen their focus and calm down. It’s fun to do as well. Mindful listening can be very helpful at school and when friends and family need our full attention.
This mindfulness activity involves listening to a sound; many children naturally gravitate toward visual information, so this is a great way to help them become more aware of the auditory information that surrounds them.
Mindfulness Activities For Children: Sound Signal
Purpose: Sensory Awareness & Mindfulness
Best for: Ages 4+
What you need: a bell, chimes, or other item that makes a lingering sound before turning quiet (even some phone apps might have sounds that work).
To begin, ask the child to sit or lie comfortably. Ask her to close her eyes and breathe deeply (for 3 or 4 breaths). Model by breathing along with her, and encourage her to continue to breathe deeply throughout the duration of the activity.
Next, explain that you’re going to make a sound, and that she should try to focus on the sound until she can’t hear it anymore. When she can no longer hear the sound, she will give a signal.
For a younger child, this part of the activity can be made especially engaging or fun. When the sound disappears, she can signal by opening her eyes, raising her hand, snapping her fingers or through a different signal of her own invention. Tell the child that she should listen very hard for the sound for as long as she can, and only signal when it is completely inaudible.
Repeat the activity as many times as she likes, perhaps changing the “sound’s end” signal with each trial. Ask her questions about how the activity made her feel. Did she hear the sound longer than she expected? What happened to the sound as time progressed?
Some children may enjoy taking the activity even further. If that is the case, tell her that for the next round, instead of listening to the bell, she will listen to the sounds present in the room. Try modeling for her at first, pointing out sounds such as the chatter of neighbors outside on the sidewalk or the ticking of the clock (but don’t give away too many sounds – allow her to discover most of these on her own). When she gives her signal, ask her what she noticed. Were there sounds present in the room that she had no idea existed? What were they? In the future, will she be more aware of sounds like these?
A shorter version can be used to calm down and to re-focus “on-the-spot” when anxious or overwhelmed. To do this simply listen mindfully for a minute or two and try to hear at least five different sounds.
If you are new to mindfulness with children we recommend that you read our guide: How To Practice Mindfulness With Children – The Essential Guide
May you be happy and healthy!
Chris Bergstrom is a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is trained by Mindful Schools to teach mindfulness to students in K-12 (but not associated with MS) and a member of the American Mindfulness Research Association. He’s also an executive consultant, and has taught meditation for more than 10 years.