Promoting Safety: Practice Observation and Listening Skills

By Megan Power on March 4, 2010

(Photo taken on the day of Chelsea King's disappearance.) 

For the past week my community has been devastated by the disappearance and murder of one of our 17 year-old high school students, Chelsea King. You can see the sadness and nervousness when you look into parent's eyes. As our community deals with this grief, parents are becoming more interested in teaching their children how to stay safe and protect themselves. I thought this would be a great time to teach about stranger danger and work on my students’ observation skills that can assist them academically, as well as in an emergency. Take a look at a few quick activities that work on students’ listening and observation skills.

My husband, Mike, is a police officer. He often tells how difficult it is for people, even adults, to be able to remember and describe a person or scene of an event. If you have five people describing a person, the chances are they will each give a varied description. Knowing this, along with focusing on adding details and descriptions to our writing, I decided to work on my students observation and describing skills with these activities.

Describe Me

In this activity I start by showing a picture of a dog for about 30 seconds. The students must be quiet and look at the dog. After the 30 seconds is up, the picture is taken away and the children have to draw the dog. We then talk about how close they were to the actual picture. Is the color of the dog correct? Is the dog facing the right way?

After they get the hang of it, we move to a person. Again, I show a picture of a person and the kids have to draw and write about what that person looks like and what they are doing. After sharing pictures and descriptions I show the picture again and we discuss how close we were to describing him or her.

This is an activity that can be done many times and the kids don’t get tired of it. An extension is to move to remembering and describing scenes, such as a park. Show students a scene of a park and then have them draw and describe what they see. Describe Me is a fun activity that promotes writing and really heightens students’ observation skills which is critical in real world situations.

Listen In

Here is another quick lesson student’s love. For this activity, I play different sound effects and the students draw or write what they hear. We talk about letting the sound paint a picture in their minds as a way to help them figure out what they are listening to. For example I will play a train noise and the students have to figure out what it is from the sound. An extension to this activity is to play a piece of music and have students draw what they picture in their mind as they listen to the music

Here are a few free sound effect and music websites.

Find Sounds- Search the web for free sound effects

Partners in Rhyme- Free sound effects

FreePlay Music- This site has an enormous amount of music

Here are two cute and simple observation videos that are a great way to start working on students observation skills in preschool.

Getting our young kids to use their senses to help them remember a person or an event, along with good stranger danger skills will really help to keep our children and our streets safer.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Chelsea King. She had a promising future and was stolen from us way to young. May Chelsea rest in peace and may the world learn from this tragic incident.



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