Tips & Tricks For Parents

Introducing Environmental Sounds at Home

In our everyday environment we are surrounded by an endless array of sounds. For example running water, alert beeps, door bells, footsteps, washing machines whirring, coughing, and sneezing.

Help your child to attend to and recognise these environmental sounds as they begin to explore their listening world. Here are some early listening activities to help your child to do this:

  • When you hear a sound draw your child’s attention to it. Say “Listen, I hear that,” and look to where the sound is coming from. Point to your ear to show that you are listening for a sound. Verbally imitate or recreate the sound to help your child figure out where the sound is coming from, for example a door knocking or a microwave timer ringing.
  • It is important to remember that many of these sounds also carry a particular purpose or meaning. For example, when your child hears a door bell, they need to know the next step is to open the door and welcome a visitor. You could try a prompt such as “I hear the microwave alarm go! Let’s take out the food!” or “I heard the timer ring. Are the cookies baked and ready?”
  • Draw your child’s attention to all the different sounds that can be heard inside and outside. For example running water, whirring fans, wind blowing in the trees, traffic noises, doorbells, the TV and radio.
  • Expose your child to sounds of different loudness level and talk about them. Find or create sounds that are loud—doors slamming or dogs barking, and those that are quiet—a clink of car key or a tick of a watch.


When your child begins to attend to environmental noises, set up games and early listening activities that they can do when they hear a sound. These include:

  • Racing: Push the cars down a racing track when you blow a whistle
  • Wake up game: A doll or person “wakes up” when they hear an alarm ring
  • Telephone ring: Set your phone to ring (or use your voice) and encourage your child to lift the receiver and say “Hello”
  • Wind chimes: Decorate an outdoor area with wind chimes made of wood and metal plates. Have fun with your child in making them move in the wind and make noises. You can even talk about closing the windows as the weather is windy, or talk about reducing the speed of the fan to quieten the chimes.
  • The MED-EL rehabilitation resource 100 Sounds to Discover is a CD with recorded samples of a 100 different environmental sounds. It includes pictures which can be used as flashcards to help your child associate what is making the sound. Contact your local MED-EL Representative to order.


Have fun exploring the noises and sounds in the world with your child!

Liked this post on early listening activities with your child? Help your child to recognize voices with these other early listening activities.

Have you heard about SONNET 2? Discover how our latest cochlear implant audio processor is made for your child.

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