Auditory Attention Activities

auditory attention activities

Below, you will find information on how to improve attention and memory with auditory processing techniques, specifically through auditory feedback. We’re sharing information regarding an auditory processing tool and auditory attention activities to utilize auditory feedback to promote attention and memory within functional tasks. Attention to language, aspects of sound, and auditory memory skills can be impacted by auditory attention. This as well as auditory sensitivities can impact learning and functional participation in everyday tasks.

Auditory attention activities for kids and adults

On a daily basis, therapy providers witness the strong connections between attention and memory, and their influence on function. They’re also able to prescribe customized therapy programs that ameliorate each level of auditory processing needed to carry out a task. Activities that work multiple systems while strengthening the foundation of function help to streamline therapy and meet goals. This wholistic approach is a hallmark of the occupational therapy profession.

Auditory Processing

We’ve shared various auditory processing activities here on The OT Toolbox. Today, we’re chatting about auditory feedback and the part this plays in improving attention needed in learning. You can find additional resources and activities like this auditory feedback tool at the bottom of this post.

Tips and strategies to improve attention and memory with auditory processing.

Memory and Attention are the Foundations for Learning

Memory and attention work together in the brain to form the basis of our cognitive abilities. Attention is the ability to process information—sometimes selectively—and memory is the ability to store that information for retrieval as needed.

This foundation impacts everything we do, including basic cognitive tasks (such as brushing our teeth) and more complex tasks (like playing a musical instrument).

What is auditory feedback and how does this  skill play into auditory processing and its impact on attention and memory?

What is Auditory Feedback

Auditory Feedback is a natural process in the human body that helps us understand and modulate sound and speech signals in real time. When we speak, our ears receive the signal, and our brains make sense of it.

In the case of vocalizations, and to a greater extent speech, our brains modulate the productions in real time so that we can quickly adapt, ensuring our message is accurate.

Strengthening the Foundation

Simply using the auditory feedback system—or auditory feedback loop—is one way to ensure that memory and attention continue to work well. We do this every day by listening to sounds and speaking.

In order to improve these skills, we need to challenge the brain in specific ways. We know that the brain is plastic; it is a living organ that changes and adapts to the needs of the body. I

f someone stops using their left arm, the brain will strengthen connections to the right arm to compensate. Furthermore, the neural connections that aren’t being used for the left arm will start to deteriorate, which is hard evidence for the “use it or lose it” adage.

Practical and Results-Focused Brain Training

Disclosure: Affiliate links are included below.

Capitalizing on the audio-feedback loop and its ability to improve memory and attention in the brain is the business of Forbrain® Bone Conduction Headphones. With these headphones, a simple task can become a multi-faceted memory and attention-boosting transformation.

Bone conduction hearing is ten times quicker than air conduction and while using Forbrain, which includes a microphone and a dynamic filter, manipulated sound stimuli reach the brain quicker, and are presented in a way that’s naturally challenging.

Challenging the brain is synonymous with growing the brain!

The use of bone conduction headphones has been proven to improve therapy outcomes. One study suggests that there is a real basis for the claims that Forbrain can improve voice quality and the executive attentional mechanisms and memory. The results suggest that an auditory feedback device such as Forbrain® could be helpful in improving focus in those who have attention disorders such as ADHD, and those who have difficulties with speech production and auditory processing (Escera).

For more information on the bones in the ears, check out this list of bone names which covers all of the bones in the body.

Easy auditory Attention activities:

These auditory attention activities are easy ways to to improve attention through auditory processing. These strategies can be used at any age, and depend on the need. Learners that struggle with listening comprehension will find strategies that impact attention. Younger children will benefit from quick activities such as nursery rhymes and clapping games that impact auditory attention skills at an age-appropriate level.

It’s as simple as wearing the headphones while carrying out auditory feedback activities during therapy or during everyday tasks. All of these strategies impact auditory memory.

Examples of activities might include:

  • Reading a book or poetry aloud
  • Reciting nursery rhymes
  • Clapping games and movement activities
  • Practicing tone and pitch while singing
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Memorizing material for an exam
  • Performing exercises to improve posture and diaphragmatic breathing

Forbrain isn’t just for therapists or those of us in a therapy program. If you or someone you know can benefit from the improved memory and attention abilities that Forbrain provides, read more about using a bone conduction headset and grab one of your ownn here.

Tips and tools for better attention using auditory feedback and other auditory processing strategies.


Escera, C. (2015). A scientific single case study on speech, auditory processing and attentional strengthening with Forbrain® . Retrieved from Agency name website:

The Auditory Processing Kit is a tool to support learners by building skills in listening comprehension, auditory processing needs, and much more. The tools offer support to learners with hyper-responsive or hypo-responsive auditory systems. Therapists love the hands-on activities to support learning and active listening through play and handwriting tasks.

  • Listening Comprehension
  • Fine Motor Listening Skills
  • How to Improve Listening Skills Poster
  • Clap It Out Syllables Orthographic Activities
  • Beginning Sounds Letter Activity
  • Rhyming Words Activity
  • Activity Listening Activity
  • Hearing Skills Activity
  • Auditory Memory Strategies
  • What Does Active Listening Look Like?
  • Whole Body Listening Activity
  • Whole Body Listening Poster
  • Listening and Motor Skills Game
  • 2 Step Direction Cards
  • How to Support Hyper-Responsiveness of the Auditory Sense (handout and info sheet)
  • How to Support Hypo-responsiveness of the Auditory Sense (handout and info sheet)
  • Auditory Processing Tools Cards
  • Auditory Processing Speed -2 Digit Numbers
  • Auditory Processing Speed -3 Digit Numbers
  • Auditory Processing Speed -4 Digit Numbers

Use the handouts and posters to teach about the auditory system and auditory challenges, with strategies to support individualized needs. Get your copy of the Auditory Processing Kit today.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to


blank word search

What better way to work on visual perceptual skills AND handwriting, than by adding this blank word search template to your treatment plans? If you’ve seen some of the other St. Patrick’s Day activities on the site this week, then you can add this activity to your March OT lesson plans.

This blank word search is great for visual perceptual skills and handwriting skills.

The OT Toolbox has a lot of St. Patrick’s Day activities including this blank word search template.

Plus you’ll find more free downloads in our Spring Activities headquarters.


When my girls were young, I was forever searching for ways to make their homework more fun, especially while learning spelling words.  Straight repetition and memorization might work for some learners, but for the rest, there needs to be more engaging ways to improve working memory for retention of information.

How can you use this blank word search worksheet?

What I love about simple worksheets like this blank word search PDF template, is the flexibility and usability it offers. 

By thinking outside of the box, dozens of treatment ideas can be created!  (This type of activity analysis would be a great project for therapy students or new teachers).

  • Use current spelling words on your learner’s list for the clues to the wordsearch
  • Add thematic words to your grid (winter, animals, foods, colors, clothing)
  • Write random letters in the grid and use this as a scanning task (find all the A’s)
  • Have learners create a grid for other students to use. This works on critical thinking skills, as well as promoting neatness and accuracy
  • Use the printable blank template as a grid for working on letter sizing, letter formation, and neatness
  • Work on speed and dexterity by seeing how many letters/dots/numbers they can write in a given amount of time
  • Use dot markers for accuracy either with a blank grid or while searching for letters or words
  • Laminate the page for reusability and eco friendliness
  • Extend the activity by having students write a sentence after finding each word, draw a picture, or define the words
  • Younger learners do not need to be able to read or spell these words, this will be a copying and visual memory task for those who can not read
  • Try presenting this without including a word bank.  See how many words your learners can find without clues, or remember what words are on their spelling list
  • Enlarge this template onto a smart board for group work, encouraging students to come to the board, and write vertically
  • What other ideas can you come up with?

What is your objective using this blank word search?

As always, shift your focus and observations toward the skills you are building.  In this task it could be:

  • Fine motor: letter formation,  handwriting, grasping, copying from a model
  • Visual perception:scanning, figure ground, visual memory
  • Sensory: arousal level, pressure on paper/pencil, seating position
  • Speed and dexterity
  • social/emotional skills, following directions, frustration tolerance
  • Executive function: organizing work, work completion, task analysis
  • Strengthening, bilateral coordination
  • Any combination of the above, or something entirely different

If your main objective is visual perception, check out this huge visual processing bundle offered in the OT Toolbox.

what and how to document session using this blank word search page

Using this blank word search in therapy sessions covers a variety of areas and goals. But how do you document? And what do you look for when using a tool like this in therapy sessions?

Here are a few things to watch for when learners use this resource:

  • Document in real numbers, percentages, and actual data
  • Accuracy of finding the words
  • Timing for finishing the task
  • Amount of physical and/or verbal assistance
  • Grasping pattern 
  • Sensory skills/problems
  • Behavior, social function

The resources available for individuals/members visiting the OT Toolbox, are great for new teachers/therapists who feel overwhelmed, needing an organized direction for making awesome treatment plans.

Don’t forget seasoned professionals who are burned out, or looking for quick and easy printables, PDF templates, and activities.  Whatever category you fit in, whether you are a professional or parent, the OT Toolbox has you covered!  

more ideas for your St. Patrick’s Day themed lesson plan

Sticking with the winter theme and tired of Frozen songs and worksheets? Try our Spring Fine Motor Kit full of flowers, butterflies, rainbows, and Spring fun. These reproducible activity pages include: pencil control strips, scissor skills strips, simple and complex cutting shapes, lacing cards, toothpick precision art, crumble hand strengthening crafts, memory cards, coloring activities, and so much more.

Understanding why you are doing treatment, what goals you are working on, how to assess and grade each task, document the lesson plan, and troubleshoot the activities, are the most difficult (and important) parts of treatment.  Picking a worksheet is easy, knowing how to use it is where skill is involved.  That is why it is so awesome that these tools are readily available.  No need to keep reinventing the wheel.  

Use the resources available to you at the OT Toolbox, or wherever else you search for quality materials, then take a moment of free time to listen to the Spring raindrops. Grab those Spring fine motor printables, then settle in with a book and a cup of cocoa.

Free Blank Word Search

Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox so you can help kids thrive? Enter your email into the form below to access this printable tool.

This resource is just one of the many tools available in The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Each month, members get instant access to downloadable activities, handouts, worksheets, and printable tools to support development. Members can log into their dashboard and access all of our free downloads in one place. Plus, you’ll find exclusive materials and premium level materials.

Level 1 members gain instant access to all of the downloads available on the site, without enter your email each time PLUS exclusive new resources each month.

Level 2 members get access to all of our downloads, exclusive new resources each month, PLUS additional, premium content each month: therapy kits, screening tools, games, therapy packets, and much more. AND, level 2 members get ad-free content across the entire OT Toolbox website.

Join the Member’s Club today!

Free Blank Word Search

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    Victoria Wood

    Victoria Wood, OTR/L has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

    *The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for consistency. This information is relevant for students, patients, clients, preschool, kids/children of all ages and stages, or whomever could benefit from these resources. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.

    Sensory Strategies for Road Trips

    sensory strategies for road trips

    Here we have sensory strategies for road trips including ideas for road trip tips for kids with sensory issues and an oral motor sensory break that helps with sensory needs during car rides.

    sensory strategies for road trips.

    Oral motor sensory break for road trips

    If you’ve ever taken a road trip with kids then you know how nerve wracking a long trip can be for the kids and the parents.  Long road trips with the family are definitely fun.  They are certainly stressful and chaotic times with sibling love and revelry, but definitely memory-making.  Whether you have one child or 6, a road trip involves planning, especially when sensory needs are at play.

    You prepare the books, the activities, the snacks, the music, or videos.  You can prep it all, but no matter what, there will be craziness that only kids can bring. There are the potty emergencies that happen 20 minutes after you left the rest stop.  There are the drink spills that saturate the car seats.  There are spilled toys and fights that break out among sisters.  But through it all, you’re plowing 65 miles an hour to memories.  

    But, when all of this chaos is happening, you can take mini-sensory breaks that will give the kids a chance to calm down the fidgets and the wiggles.  As an occupational therapist in the school-based setting, I often times made recommendations to parents and teachers for kids who needed to move during the span of a class or school-day.  

    Unfortunately, when you are travelling long distances in a car on a road trip, you can’t always stop and get out to move and stretch.  There are definitely times that a rest stop is needed and those are the perfect times for kids to get out of the car and run a bit.  

    But, when you are stuck in a van or car for a while, sometimes kids just need to have a sensory break.  This is true for typical kids or kids with sensory processing disorders (and parents, too)!

    We made these snack bottles to help with calming sensory input using Twizzlers Twists.  Sensory Processing Disorder (and types of sensory needs, outlined in our Sensory Lifestyle Handbook) in children can present with many different sensory needs due to difficulties with modulating sensory input.  T

    he long car ride of a family vacation can cause sensory overload or a lack of sensory input to kids who need help regulating input. Whether a child with sensory processing disorder is sensory seeking, under-responsive to sensory input, or sensory defensive, oral motor sensory integration activities like chewy twizzlers, licorice chews, or fruit leather can help.  

    The repetition of chewing a licorice twist can help to calm and regulate sensory needs.  Not only are Twizzlers Twists the perfect car snack for sensory needs, they are easy to eat and Don’t Melt like chocolate snacks might!

    Oral motor sensory input for kids with sensory processing disorder or typical kids who need a sensory break and proprioceptive input during long car rides.

     To make a Road Trip Twizzlers Twists Snack holder:

    With kids, a road trip almost guarantees a messy car with crumbs and spills.  We wanted to create a container that would hold our Twizzlers  or licorice twists and keep the mess on the lower end.  A cute container is bonus, so we pulled out the ribbons and glue gun.  

    These snack holders will keep our Twizzlers or fruit chews ready for kids (and the parents) that need a quick sensory break during a long trip:

    Oral motor sensory input for kids with sensory processing disorder or typical kids who need a sensory break and proprioceptive input during long car rides.

    Gather a few tall plastic jars from the recycle bin.  We used recycled peanut jars and loved that the lids coordinated with our Twizzlers Twists!  

    Grab a strand of ribbon and the glue gun to make these jars something special.

    Oral motor sensory input for kids with sensory processing disorder or typical kids who need a sensory break and proprioceptive input during long car rides.
    Cut the ribbon to fit around the jar.  Using the hot glue gun, attach the ribbon.  You can layer on colors, or get the kids involved in decorating by using decorative tape or even permanent markers to decorate the snack containers.
    Now you’ll need Twizzlers candy.  We grabbed our Twizzlers Twists and  Twizzlers Pull N Peels along with all of the other must-haves for our vacation.
    Oral motor sensory input for kids with sensory processing disorder or typical kids who need a sensory break and proprioceptive input during long car rides.
    Fill the containers with Twizzlers Twists and Twizzlers Pull N Peels.  They are ready to grab and go on your next road trip with the family!
    Oral motor sensory input for kids with sensory processing disorder or typical kids who need a sensory break and proprioceptive input during long car rides.
    Oral motor sensory input for kids with sensory processing disorder or typical kids who need a sensory break and proprioceptive input during long car rides.


    More Sensory Strategies for Road Trips

    • Create a sensory story to talk about the trip in advance. Use the travel sensory story to guide use of sensory tools during the road trip.
    • Pack preferred sensory tools. These items can be placed in the vehicle or alongside the child while travelling so they can access the sensory tools during the roadtrip. 
    • Movement breaks! Stopping in advance of breakdowns is critical. Plan out stops in advance so you know when the next stop is. If possible, plan out stops according to location. Use local playgrounds as areas to run and play during road trip stops.
    • Chew on a straw
    • Plan on brain breaks at stops
    • Blow through a straw
    • Play car games such as I Spy, or find items in the scenery and make a story.
    • Create a sensory lifestyle with built-in sensory breaks based on motivation and meaningful activities (outlined in our Sensory Lifestyle Handbook)
    • Eat crunchy snacks
    • Drink a smoothie through a sippy cup with a straw-type top
    • Make a DIY road trip busy bag.
    • Use a “crazy straw” in a cup.  The smaller opening is great for oral motor input.
    • Make a sensory kit with fidgets or other sensory tools
    • Play “Simon Says” with mouth exercises: Suck cheeks in/puff cheeks out/Make a big “O” shape/Stretch out the tongue. You’ll find many on our Simon Says commands blog post.
    • Chew gum
    • Create a sensory diet specifically for the trip
    • Use a straw to suck and pick up pieces of paper.  Transfer them carefully to a cup using only the straw.
    • Weighted blanket or throw

    The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a comprehensive resource offering a strategy guide to create sensory diets and turn them into a lifestyle of sensory success!

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to