Our auditory memory is our ability to retain and recall information we hear. It allows us to process and understand longer, more complex instructions, attend and listen and acquire new information. Children with reduced auditory memory can find it very challenging to follow instructions and retain learning. Helen wrote about memory and strategies to support auditory memory here.
So today I am going to write about some specific games you can play to help improve a child’s auditory memory, but do take a look at Helen’s post and encourage the child to use the strategies during the games. Also make sure you start at an easy level and gradually make it harder – you don’t want to make it so tricky the child doesn’t want to play the game!
Get a range of around 6 everyday objects – a spoon, a teddy, a bowl, a toy car etc, and ask you child to collect certain objects as they ‘shop’. You could use a little shopping basket or a bag so they can put the items in. Start at an easy level, say 2 items and as they find this easier move on to 3 then 4.
Adult: Can you buy me a spoon and a teddy please.
After each go, make sure you return all the objects. To extend this game, rather than asking for objects in front of the child, ask them for objects from around the house. For example a tooth brush (so they have to go to the bathroom) or a sock (from a bedroom). In this way they have to move around the house and remember what they have been asked for.
Do you remember playing “I went to the market and I bought a …….” ? Well, this is a chaining game. You take it in turns to add a piece of information to a list and each turn you have to recall the list in full. To keep it interesting you can think of items in different categories:-
I went to space and I saw…..
I went to the zoo and I saw……
I went to the park and played on….
You can also add another element to these games by adding a description to your item. So rather than just seeing a tiger at the zoo, you could see a tiger with stripes. Instead of just seeing a monkey, you could see a monkey eating a banana.
This is similar to chaining games, but you add information to each others ideas. You could make some interesting stories. Again, when it is your turn you have to recap the sentences that has been generated so far and then add a new pieces of information
“I played minecraft.”
“I played minecraft on Saturday”
“I played minecraft on Saturday and built a house out of sandstone”
“I played minecraft on Saturday and built a house out of sandstone and a creeper blew it up!”.
Remembering parts of a story
When you are reading with the child, before you turn the page over you can ask specific questions about the page you have just read. What was the boys name? Where did they travel to? What did they forget? etc This is a great activity as it also helps the child learn how to extract key pieces of information.
Recall of a spoken sequence
List items and see if the child can remember them. Start at an easy level, for example 2 items and then gradually increase. You could try
numbers e.g. 5, 1, 6, 9
colours e.g. red, blue, yellow, green
animals e.g. cat, dog, fox, sheep etc.
You could extend this and when you go shopping ask the child to remember a few items that you need e.g toothpaste, apples and bread. Then as you walk around the shops they have to remember and collect their items.
Broken telephone/ whispering game
If you have a few people, you could play a game of broken telephone. One person thinks of a sentences and whispers it to the person next to them. This continues until it gets back to the first person. The sentence is then said out loud and you compare it to the original to see if it has been changed.
Remembering a specific item
You could ask the child to remember an item at the start of an activity and then ask them what it was at the end. This requires them to remember over time.
Orienteering/ treasure hunt activities
Try giving the child instructions to find a hidden object. Again, initially you could give instructions one at a time, but as they improve you could give 2 or 3 instructions together. This could be made very motivating if you hide a treat or favourite toy!
e.g. “go to the kitchen door, take 4 paces into the kitchen and look under the bowl”.
If there is another adult or child available, you could ask the child to take a message to them. For example “Tell your brother tea is ready and he needs to come downstairs” “tell dad there is a letter for him on the table” If necessary you can let the other person know the message so they can help the child remember if they have difficulty.
Drawing to instruction
You could encourage the child to draw a picture and give them directions to follow. You can also turn this activity round and get the child to tell you what to draw and you then have a great language activity! You could describe something simple like a house, or a treasure map – whatever the child is interested in. You can always draw the outline and just get the child to put on specific details.
e.g. draw a square for house and ask the child to put on a green door on the left, then maybe 2 blue windows at the top etc Again you can increase or decrease the length of the instruction for the child.
So have a try! Remember to start at an easy level and gradually make it harder. Also find strategies that help the child and encourage them to use them in the games.