Cornucopia of Attention-Getters

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

My research and new creative work are paying off…I’ve collected and designed a cornucopia full of more great ideas that can help you catch and keep elementary students’ attention.

How about an actual cornucopia as an attention-getting tool in the month of November when harvest-time images in schools across the United States and Canada connect with the celebration of Thanksgiving!

Check this out: Invite your students to give thanks for the opportunity to learn by choosing from a CORNUCOPIA FULL OF EXTRA CREDIT ACTIVITY APPLES in your classroom. Follow these steps:

  • Advise your class to be on the lookout for a Cornucopia of Extra Credit Activity Apples coming soon to a bulletin board near you. Creating anticipation is a key to attention-ology!
  • Buy or cut from brown construction paper or cardstock a large cornucopia. (Seasonal illustrations are usually available at teacher supply stores. )
  • Buy large pre-cut apple shapes or cut large apple shapes from red construction paper or red cardstock.
  • Write one educational activity on each apple in dark marker. Sample activity: Create a math problem involving pumpkin pies. Write the problem as a word problem and as a numerical problem on notebook paper. Prepare to present the problem to the class.
  • Post the cornucopia and activity apples on a classroom bulletin board. Post the apples with double-sided tape that’s easy to remove. Make and post a sign above the cornucopia that reads, “Cornucopia of Extra Credit Activity Apples.”
  • Invite students to pick an apple and complete the activity for extra credit.
  • Optional: Use a variety of fruit shapes and colors instead of all apples.
  • Optional: Use a basket rather than a cornucopia and fruits and vegetables that are indigenous to your region of the world. In fact, in grades 3 – 5, one of the extra credit activity apples or other produce could be to research holidays that express thanks for native foods in different nations.
  • Recommended: Limit the time you leave up the Extra Credit Cornucopia in your classroom. Time limits can play an important role in catching and keeping K – 5 students’ attention.

Speaking of Thanksgiving-time attention-getters in the US and elsewhere, here’s another idea, one for children in grades K – 2 that connects with a cornucopia full of corn…

Let’s call this activity PAUSE and IMAGINE the STORIES this DOLL could TELL. Follow these steps:

  • Find an authentic corn husk doll or a photograph or illustration of one online or at the library. If possible, find two dolls, one of a girl and one of a boy.
  • Show the doll and explain to your students that corn husk dolls have been fashioned in the tradition of playthings created for Native American and other populations of children since people began growing corn more than a thousand years ago.
  • Tell your class that the craft of corn husk doll making has been passed down to children from generation to generation, creating a family tradition.
  • Ask if any students have ever discovered a family treasure in a grandmother’s attic, closet or drawer.
  • Invite the children to pretend that they just found a long-lost corn husk doll, nestled among an old piece of clothing.
  • Now invite students to pause and imagine what stories the doll could tell. Encouraging students to take time out, to pause, is an effective attention-getting trick.
  • Pre-writers may be asked to make up a story out loud in small groups or with the whole class.
  • Early writers can be challenged to write their stories on paper.
  • Optional: Display the corn husk doll or images for students to use as models for their own doll drawings to illustrate their stories.

Please feel free to add to this cornucopia of attention-getters with your comments! Thanks, and remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

Barbara The 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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