Speaking and listening skills for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade are so important! In this post, I wanted to share 3 fun ways to get students speaking publicly and listening respectfully in the classroom! Before I dive in, I wanted to let you know you can watch or listen to all this information in video format below:
According to state standards, we want our K-2 students to be able to participate in collaborative conversations where they are able to speak to their peers and also listen and ask relevant questions. These three ideas are great for getting your students to practice these skills in the classroom!
Before I go over the three big ideas, I want to emphasize the importance of setting a classroom standard by going over the rules and procedures before starting a conversation. I like to use an anchor chart like the one below to practice active listening and accountable talk:
At the top of the chart, I remind my students that we listen with our eyes by looking at the speaker, we listen with our ears by hearing what the speaker is saying, and we listen with our heart by treating others how we would like to be treated.
The first examples of accountable talk are “I agree with _____ because _____” and “I disagree with ____ because _____.” I like these sentence stems because students will be using each other’s names and giving specific examples of what they agree or disagree with. It helps build connections and also open discussions about why they agree or disagree with each other.
Additionally, since we work on building upon conversations in first grade, I also like to use the sentence stems, “I like what you said about ____. I think….” and “I heard you say ____ and I’d like to add more.” I love these examples because students must actively listen to each other and then they can go on and make connections or expand upon their ideas to further the conversation.
Once the rules are set and you’ve discussed how to actively listen and respond to each other, you can implement these speaking and listening skills into your classroom in the following ways:
1. Incorporate it into your morning meeting
I like scheduling a morning meeting for my class every day, so we can all get together in a circle, greet each other, answer questions, and do a morning message and class activity. Most of the speaking and listening skills we have gone over can be easily practiced and implemented during this time without having to change up our schedule or routine. Even if you don’t have a morning meeting, you can still incorporate speaking and listening skills into your classroom by adding similar activities and asking your students to share their own stories.
For example, every Monday in my classroom I had “The Weekend News”, where I had my students go around and say what they did over the weekend or share any news they wanted to tell their classmates. Especially after the weekend, I find that my students were always eager to share what they did, and this activity allows them to do that while getting to practice their speaking and listening skills. If your students don’t have any news to share, you can also google “discussion cards,” where you will be able to find several pre-planned prompts and discussion starters to get your class talking.
Tip: At the beginning of the year, you might want to ask which students want to stand up and share their news instead of calling on everyone, as you will likely have students who are shyer and haven’t broken out of their shells yet. These students may need the help of some simple sentence stems (I felt ____ this weekend because ______.) to get started talking in front of the classroom!
As the year goes on, you can also have your students break up into small groups or partners for “The Weekend News” so that everyone can have a chance to speak and practice their skills.
2. Would You Rather Cards
Would You Rather? cards are another great way to get your class to practice their speaking and listening skills! You can use them in your morning meeting or just throw them up on the board any time during the day as a fun, quick exercise. I made 110 fun, kid-friendly “Would You Rather?” questions that you can check out here by clicking below. You can even grab 10 FREE cards to use when you download the preview:
When using Would You Rather? cards, I have my students think about the question, choose an answer in their head, then come up with a reason why they chose that answer. Students can turn to each other and share their answers and reasons, all while using their accountable talk sentence stems and practicing building on conversations. Kids love these Would You Rather? questions, and it is always fun to hear their reasoning behind their answers to the more silly questions.
3. Guess that __________!
You can play this as a whole group or small group activity and play with virtually any topic – guess that animal, guess that book, guess that food, etc.
If you play “guess that animal,” you will start by thinking of an animal and give one hint to your class. For example, if you are thinking of a zebra, you might say, “This animal is sometimes seen at a zoo.” After you give one hint, you need to answer 3 yes or no questions from your class. If they still don’t guess your animal, give another hint then get 3 more yes or no questions, and repeat until they guess the correct animal!
This is a great activity to practice speaking because your students need to think of hints for their animal without giving it away. It is also great for listening because students need to listen to the clues and to what questions are being asked to figure out what animal it is!
These activities are great precursors to get your students comfortable speaking and listening to each other. You might want to do activities like this before having your students share the papers or stories they wrote since that tends to make students feel vulnerable or a little more nervous to share. You want to practice these activities for a short time daily or weekly to get your class comfortable and sharpen their skills on a consistent basis!
I hope you enjoyed these speaking and listening activities to use in your own kindergarten, first, or second grade classroom. Which one(s) are you going to try with your students?! Let me know in the comments!
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