Active Listening Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

This lesson plan uses pantomime with hand signals to help students remember the actions required for active listening. Students will practice active listening skills in action with a small group story sharing exercise.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson plan, students will be able to:

  • Identify specific strategies for active listening
  • Work together in groups


30-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).


Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

Vocabulary and phrases

  • Active listening strategies:
    • Remove distractions
    • Avoid interrupting
    • Use body language
    • Keep eye contact
    • Repeat information



  • Pass out copies of Active Listening Strategies for Kids to each of the students.
  • Read the lesson as a class to introduce the activity.
  • As students take turns reading through each of the strategies for active listening, make a hand signal by pantomiming each of the strategies as they are mentioned. This pantomime will be the basis for the class activity.
  • Active listening strategy hand signals:
    • Remove distractions = close your hands, like closing a book
    • Avoid interrupting = index finger pointed up, like 'one moment'
    • Use body language = facing the speaker, smile and nod
    • Keep eye contact = point to your eyes and then theirs, like 'I see you'
    • Repeat information = open and close hands, like sock puppets
  • After reading, ask the students if they have questions about being a good listener.
  • Point out that the strategies in the lesson are 'active' and so they use verbs because active listening needs action words.
  • Write the hand signals on the whiteboard, teach them to the students and practice until they get it.

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