Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My version of a homemade hearing screener...

I made this to screen a child in more detail than my regular screening tool uses. I have had some daycare teachers ask me how to see if a child can hear the "little sounds". Well, this is my version.....

Homemade Hearing Screener for Toddlers

Materials needed:

Bucket of dry real leaves or store bought silk leaves

Small metal bell

CD of animal and environmental sounds (sounds such as snakes slithering, rain falling, and wind blowing)


Small stones or pebbles

Dried beans

Uncooked rice


Empty water bottle with top

Plastic bowl

Glass or porcelain bowl


This screener is best used in a child’s natural environment when they are in a good mood. Try to avoid naptime or when the child is hungry. Allow the child to play and set up your items out of his reach at first. Make sure the room is quiet and there are minimal distractions. Start exposing the child to one sound at a time. There is no particular order in which to offer each sound. No more than 3 feet away from the child drop leaves into a large plastic bowl or bucket. Try to do this where the child cannot see you. Watch for any response. This can include a look up, a glance toward the noise, a “thinking” look on the child’s face, a “questioning” look on the child’s face, or a verbal response such as the child saying, “What’s that?” At this age a lot of children are verbal yet not using a lot or any words. Any response can show that the child can hear the sound. Next, ring a small metal bell. Remember to not let the child see you do this. Try not to let your own body language give away the “answer”. Scratch on a piece of sandpaper. Follow the same procedure as above. Drop small pebbles or rocks (those decorative ones from the Dollar Tree work really well) into a glass container one at a time. Let there be at least 3 seconds in between each drop. Repeat with at least 5 rocks. Repeat this with a plastic bowl. Do this same exercise with the dry rice and dried beans. With the rice and beans you can dribble them into the containers. Place some of the dried rice (no more than 10 grains) into a small empty water bottle. Gently tilt the bottle from side to side. This should make a sound similar to a “rain stick”. You can repeat this with the beans. With the paper crinkle it slowly into a loose ball. Open it up slowly and repeat. You can use different weights of paper like tissue paper, newspaper, wrapping paper, or magazine paper. Regular computer paper works fine. Using the CD of animal and environmental sounds is optional. It is best used in a group setting such as circle time or at home with siblings listening too. Keep the volume down fairly low. Listen to a sound and stop the recording. Ask everyone what they think it is. Listen to it again. Look to see if the child you are evaluating is trying to listen or just mimicking his friends. Listen to different sounds and label them by telling the children what they are listening to. Start over with sounds they have already heard and look for reactions. Mark down the reactions of the child you are screening with this activity and all of the above activities. If the child did not react to at least half of the sounds a referral to an audiologist for a full range hearing evaluation may be warranted.

You can record your findings on a homemade chart or just write them up in narrative form like a story. Remember to only document what you actually observe. Try not to write what you “think” the child heard. Try to stay away from saying “it looked like he heard something”. Instead write exactly what you see such as. “He raised his head from the book he was looking at and looked around and up at me”.

This screening procedure is not meant to replace a screener from a child’s pediatrician or an examination from an audiologist. If there are any further concerns please contact the doctor for a full hearing evaluation.

Created by Susan Betke, MAE ECE

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