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Take a Listening Walk

Tuning in to the sounds around us is a great way to help us slow down, feel present and connect with our surroundings and with each other. When we really focus on listening (and not just hearing), it's amazing how much more there is to take in and pay attention to. As featured in our Featured in our March, 2022 free activity calendar, ‘Take a Listening Walk' encourages families to take a walk with the goal of not just to hearing, but really listening to the sounds all around us.

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The Guide

Invite kids to go on a listening walk: Suggest to kids that you go on a walk, but that it’s a special kind of walk that is all about the sounds we hear around us--a listening walk.
Plan your walk: Taking a walk means very different things for different kids based on age, personality and environment, so use your judgement about how much time your walk will take. In terms of setting, if a hike in the woods is something that is accessible and appealing to your family, go for it. If a walk around your urban neighborhood is what makes the most sense, great. There is no right or ideal place for a listening walk. Every place provides opportunities to listen.
Practice listening: Before really beginning the walk, focus first on what it means to listen. Go outside and either lay down or sit down for a minute (or more!) with the goal of quieting bodies, breathing, and starting to turn up the awareness of the orchestra of sounds going on around you. Share with each other the sounds you each heard around you. Did you hear any sounds coming from you, too?

Take a listening walk: When you actually start walking, ask kids to be aware of additional sounds they hear, or sounds that fall away. What sounds are coming from up high? What sounds do you hear far away in the distance, close by or below your feet? Every so often, you can do a ‘stop and sense’ where you stop walking and see what that does for your listening.

Turn off sight: During one of the stops, try closing your eyes to experience what that does for your ability to listen. Sight is the dominant sense for humans (especially in the age of screens) and it can be enlightening to experience sound without it.

Reflect and share: After your walk, take a few minutes to talk about all of the different sounds you heard and what might have been surprising, exciting, a little scary, or if there were any sounds you couldn’t identify. 

Why is this activity great for kids?

This is a great activity for helping us to slow down and really be present with ourselves and each other. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to practice focusing, both in general and on a particular sense, further developing that sensory awareness.

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