Tone of Voice Activities for Kids

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Learning how to read others' tones of voice can go a long way toward helping children communicate appropriately. This lesson offers fun and engaging activities that will help your students learn about tone of voice.

Why Tone of Voice Matters

Have you ever noticed that sometimes children understand all the words that you are saying, but somehow, they do not understand your underlying message or the emotions behind it? This kind of miscommunication can really impede the extent to which you achieve mutual understanding with your students.

One reason for such a misunderstanding can be that children do not always understand the meaning behind different tones of voice. In this lesson, you will find some activities designed to help children understand what gets communicated via different tones of voice so that they can get more adept at understanding what people mean when they speak to them.

Visual Activities for Tone of Voice

Some children respond best to activities that allow them to work with images or to make sense of new concepts and information using graphic organizers. These activities are well suited to such visual learners.

Draw the Feeling

Give each of your students a large sheet of paper and crayons or colored pencils. Then, one at a time, read them the same sentence in different tones of voice. For instance, you might say, 'please pass me your homework' in an angry voice, a welcoming voice, or a tired voice. Each time you read the sentence, ask students to sketch a picture of the face they associate with the emotion they think you are expressing through your tone. Then, give them a chance to compare their sketches. You can try again with a different sentence, or you can let students take a turn talking in different tones while their friends sketch in response.

Graphic Associations

Break your students into small groups for this activity, and give each group a word to start with. The word should be something that can describe someone's tone of voice, such as 'loud,' 'soft,' 'slow,' 'gentle,' or 'squeaky.' Students should use these starter words to create a web of feelings and thoughts they associate with a voice that sounds this way. They should write the starter word in the middle of the page with a circle around it, then draw lines out from the central word. At the end of each line, they should write words that they associate with that word. For instance, for 'loud,' they might write, 'excited,' 'angry,' or 'strong.' Encourage students to discuss their associations as they work, then share the webs when they are finished.

Kinesthetic Activities

Other children work best when they are given the chance to use their bodies or respond with a dramatic flair. These activities are well suited to such kinesthetic learners and workers.

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