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You're not listening!

To think about and appreciate the wonderful gift of hearing and the importance of really listening.

by Kate Fleming

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To think about and appreciate the wonderful gift of hearing. To consider what we love to hear, what we hate to hear, and the importance of really listening.

Preparation and materials

  • Read through the poem in advance.


  1. Ask the children: Close your eyes and listen. What sounds can you hear? Both inside and outside school. What sounds do you recognize?

    Suggest some sounds they might hear if they listen carefully, such as cars, people's voices, scraping of a chair, telephone ringing, aeroplane flying overhead, breathing.

  2. Ask the children to open their eyes. Isn't it amazing to be able to hear so much? Let's think about what we like to hear. Explain that some sounds are seasonal - they come and go with the changing seasons:

    A cricket ball being hit at a cricket match on a lovely warm summer afternoon. Wind chasing through the trees and scurrying round the house on a November night. Carol singers in the distance on a cold frosty Christmas Eve. Birds at dawn making their nests in the spring.

  3. Ask the children for suggestions of sounds they like to hear.

  4. Now ask for suggestions of sounds they don't like to hear, such as the sound of a flat battery when you try to start the car, glass breaking, people arguing, someone crying.

  5. Ask the children to listen to this 'noisy world' poem and think carefully about it.

    We do live in a noisy world, don't we?
    All day there's noise around us.
    Radios blaring out.

    Sometimes we need to be quiet.
    Does all this noise prevent us from being quiet?
    Does all this noise stop us from really listening to what people are saying to us?


    We love listening to sounds we like to hear …

    Sound of rain splashing on the window
    when I am warm and cosy inside.
    Happy swimmers splashing in a pool
    when I have the warm sun on my back.
    Church bells ringing to welcome New Year
    as I watch the old clock move past twelve.
    Sizzling on the summer barbecue
    creeping over the fence from next door.
    A sheep dog barking in the distance
    bringing the flock to the pen to lamb.

    We don't like listening to painful sounds …

    Sound of crying, and you don't know why,
    or who it is, sobbing so sadly.
    Voices in hurtful disagreement
    from those I love and I know love me.
    Shattering glass, what has been broken?
    Penetrating the quiet of the night.
    Ominous thunder rumbling round the hills
    signalling a torrential downpour.
    The dreary moan of a flat battery.
    The car won't start. We will all be late!

    Perhaps we don't listen carefully enough to …

    Friends who want to tell me something
    but can't find the right words to do so.
    My mother when she's tired and wants to
    just watch telly and rest her eyes.
    My granny reminiscing about
    the good old days when she was a girl.
    My brother's tale of his footballing fame.
    He alone scored the winning goal!
    The quiet little voice inside me
    which tells me right from wrong, good from bad.

  6. An option is to suggest that when they get back to the classroom they could write about the sounds they like to hear, the sounds they don't like to hear, or indeed voices they don't listen to carefully enough.

Time for reflection

Dear God,
We are blessed with the wonderful gift of hearing.
Help us to appreciate this and to use it with special care.
Help us to think about people who cannot hear,
and to admire the many ways in which they overcome this.
Guide us to listen to the hidden voice that can be difficult to hear.



'I listen' (Come and Praise, 60)

Publication date: June 2001   (Vol.3 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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