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  • Establish a simple behaviour management technique that can be initiated with the key words ‘Whole Body Listening’.
  • Teach students how to listen to maximise learning.
  • Establish foundation skills required to identify and encode facial expressions and body language.
  • Teach students how to listen so that others can ‘see’ that they are listening. This is a fundamental social skill that improves relationships.
  • Materials Needed:

Materials Needed:

  • White board and white board markers
  • Poster paper and coloured markers for each group
  • Ribbon and Flips Construction Sheet 1 (1 per student) (OPTIONAL) (Cr**)
  • Whole Body Listening Poster (displayed at the completion of the session and not prior)


Review and Reflect “Last week we wrote up a list of all the things we wanted to focus on. Today, I’m going to teach you something that’s related to most of the things on that list. It can instantly improve your relationships and friendships with others. It’s called Whole Body Listening.”

Draw an outline of a person (a body-map) and ask the class “How do you listen?”

Draw the body part that a student has suggested onto the body map.

It’s very likely that the first comment offered will be “Ears!” To that you can reply, “That’s right, you listen with your ears.

But how do you listen with your ears?”

After some thought, someone might say something about the sound waves travelling through your ears.

Write their comment on the board, near the ear that was drawn. “Great start, but there are more. You actually listen with your whole body”.

Ask students to form groups. Each group will draw a body-map and figure out the answers to the question “How do you listen?”

The sample dialogue below may be useful if the small groups are supported by a facilitator.

Sample Group Work Dialogue

Facilitator (F): ‘How do you listen?’

Student (S): ‘You listen with your mouth’

Facilitator invites the student to draw a mouth on the body-map

(F): ‘How do you listen with your mouth?’

(S): ‘By not talking when the other person is talking’ (student writes response on the body-map)

(F): ‘How else do you listen?’

(S): ‘You listen with your eyes’ (student is invited to draw eyes on the body-map)

(F): ‘How do you listen with your eyes?’ …..

After 15 minutes, re-group, display the posters in a row and discuss. Note that all of the posters look similar. Reinforce the easy way to remember all of the body parts involved in Whole Body Listening. That is, that you can start from your head and move down to your feet. This is a top down approach.

Primary Facilitator: Using your hands as a visual aid and consistent language, explain that:

You listen with your brain to think about what a person is saying.

You listen with your ears to hear what the person is saying.

You listen with your eyes so that you can see how the person is speaking.

You listen with your mouth by not talking when someone else is talking.

You listen with your head and shoulders by pointing them towards the

person that is speaking.

You listen with your heart by noticing how the person might be feeling.

You listen with your arms and hands by keeping them still.

You listen with your legs and feet by keeping them still.


Ask to see Whole Body Listening. Comment on how it actually looks different. You can actually tell when people are whole body listening.

“Why do you think it is important to whole body listen in friendship?” Discuss.

“Whole Body Listening is so important and powerful that it’s actually the easiest way in the world to improve your friendships, relationships and it boosts your learning power too.”

“Boost learning power? Science has proven that the ears and eyes are designed to work together. If you Whole Body Listen during lessons, your brain will have the best chance of taking in and remembering new information. Try it for yourself and see.”

End Message

“During the week, try Whole Body Listening when you are with your friends, when you’re talking to teachers and to family. For example, when mum is talking to you about something like chores, or anything really, Whole Body Listen and see how it goes. Don’t tell people you’re doing it. Just try it for a while and see what happens. Next week we can talk about your experience.”

Throughout the course of the program (and ideally across every day and every lesson) use the cue words ‘Whole Body Listening’ to encourage this pro-social behaviour. Display the Whole Body Listening Poster in the classroom.

Optional: Consider teaching the students how to play ‘The Crazy Nose Game’ as described within the ‘Resilience Building Group Games’ section of this manual.


Students can take out their Ribbon and Flips Construction Sheet 1 (PDF) and draw a mini poster for the Whole Body Listening Flip.

* Whole Body Listening has been extended from the model presented by Winner (2003).

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