Try the Flip Trick

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

I successfully tested an effective attention-getting trick at a family workshop I recently led on a sunny spring Saturday at the State Museum of Art. The workshop theme was “Inside and Out,” an abstract concept that challenged my planning skills.

Whenever I prepare materials for teaching or presenting a program in any venue – a classroom, art studio, retirement community center, auditorium, media center, outdoor recreation area – you name it – I always include an attention-getting tool or trick. Experience has taught me to never assume that my audience of children and/or adults will be all eyes and ears on me automatically!

I’ve discovered that the best attention-getting tools and tricks are auditory as well as visual. When I’m leading an art workshop I show my attention tool or trick when I welcome the participants and introduce the theme for the day.  I announce that what I’ve brought is a signal for participants to please pause in their work and get quiet for a moment whenever they see and hear it.

Playing with the concept of “Inside and Out” I thought of the Flip Trick. Here’s how it works:

Flip Trick

  • Select a large sheet of paper with one blank side and one printed side. I use 12″ x 12″ art paper which is card stock. The blank side is white and the print sides come in a wonderful variety of patterns and colors.


  • Hold the paper sheet up high for all to see and tell the group that the paper has an inside and an outside. The inside is the blank side; the outside is the patterned side. Usually the participants will nod their heads in agreement.


  • Ask the group to watch as you flip the paper sheet from the inside to the outside. As you say the word “FLIP!” in a dramatic voice, twist your hand so that the paper sheet turns around. The card stock will make a slight noise when you flip it; that adds to its attention-getting quality.


  • Repeat the flip process and ask the group to tell you which is the inside and which is the outside. If they’ve been paying attention, and they usually do, they’ll reply correctly.

Sometimes attention-getting tools and tricks are deceptively simple. The key is to use creativity in your design and/or selection and choose devices that are easy to make and/or manage.

Trying the Flip Trick is a reminder to me that good teachers are dreamers and schemers. We dream about helping our students master skills, information, and most of all, a love of learning. Our schemes are benign; they are the clever materials and methods we use for classroom management.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Young students are getting noisy while you’re trying to teach.

Solution: Hold up "Listen Star," a toy magic wand that you’ve designated to be a cue for quiet. Tell the class, "When you see our friend, 'Listen Star' dance across the classroom sky, that’s your signal to HUSH for a moment."

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