Activity time: 22 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Baseball caps or other kinds of hats
- Drawing paper (11x17") and pencils
- Sheets of felt in various colors; pens or markers for tracing ear shapes on felt; scissors (including left-handed scissors); flexible wire, and wire cutters; needles and thread, and hot glue gun
- Optional: Fabric paint, brushes, and newspaper to cover work surfaces
Preparation for Activity
- Acquire a hat for each participant plus a few extra. Your local thrift store may be an affordable source; to ensure hats are sanitary it is a good idea to run them through a washer and a hot dryer.
- If using fabric paint, cover work surfaces with newspaper.
- Optional: Download patterns for animal ears; one source is the Fleece Farm website.
Description of Activity
Invite the children to create hats with animal ears on them, to wear as a symbol that they are "all ears" and listening intently.
Invite participants to decide what kind of animal ears they would like to have on their hat. Large, floppy elephant ears? Round bear ears? Long rabbit or kangaroo ears? Oval deer ears? Triangular wolf or cat ears? Hanging dog ears? If you have illustrations or patterns to show the group, do so now.
Once they choose the type of ears they want, invite participants to design how their chosen ears will work. Show them the hats you have brought. Will they need wire inside to make the ears stand up? If so, how will the wire attach to the felt? Distribute paper and pencils. Ask participants to draw a pattern for their ears on a piece of paper, and then trace that pattern on felt to cut out for their ear shapes. Help participants figure out how to attach the ears onto their hat. In most cases, needle and thread will probably work best. Hot glue may be a workable option.
As participants work, ask them to reflect on what it means to be "all ears." Use questions such as:
- What do you do when you are truly listening to someone? (For instance, they might nod their head, ask clarifying questions, repeat back what someone said, say "I know what you mean," use non-verbal utterances like "mmm-hmm.")
- In what situations do they most wish that someone would actively listen to them?
- In what situations is it difficult to actively listen to someone else?
Invite participants to use their finished hats at home as a way of reminding themselves to truly listen or as a way to ask someone else to listen carefully to them. Ask if they might wear their "all ears" hat to show a family member or a friend they are really listening to the person, or that they need someone to listen to them.
Including All Participants
Be ready to help children at any step of this activity, from designing to pattern tracing and cutting to implementing their plan to attach the ears to their hat.