Look, Listen, Love That Word!

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

Quick question…what’s your favorite word? For many, the answer is the word FREE. It’s so popular that advertisers of products and services worldwide use the word FREE frequently to catch our eyes and ears. But, what about educators? How do we and how could we use this attractive word to catch and keep K – 5 students attention in school?

This question popped into my mind a week ago when I spotted a handwritten sign in the media center of the school where I was teaching at the time. FREE BOOKS the sign read as it sat in black and white on top of a shelf near the door. Sitting on the shelf below the sign was one lonely book – a testimony to the power of the word FREE. I could tell that there had been a lot of books available for the taking and that all the other books on that shelf already had new homes.

I’ve seen FREEBIE tables in teachers’ lounges in many schools but not in settings like the media center that are open to students as well as staff. This wider reach gave me an idea to share with you…

Old, out of print, used books and magazines aren’t the only thing K – 5 educators can offer for FREE to interested takers. Why not make the word FREE a more frequent companion in media centers and classrooms by changing up what media specialists and teachers give away!

For example, you can whip up a box full of FREE ADVICE. Write helpful hints for achieving success in school (and life) on index cards or simply on slips of white paper (like fortunes inside cookies) and place them inside a colorful box. Then place the box in a conspicuous place in your classroom and post a FREE ADVICE sign by the box to attract attention. Your students can help themselves and benefit from private readings of your helpful hints.

You might try offering FREE JOKES in a similar way. You may even be so bold as to offer FREE EXTRA MATH PROBLEMS, also on cards in a box, and see if you get any takers. No joke! Maybe you can generate more excitement around FREE EXTRA CLASS WORK by offering FREE PRIZES to any students who complete the tasks and turn in signed work.

It’s fun to play with the word FREE. You may even invite your class to offer FREE SUGGESTIONS about best classroom practices. I’d recommend this activity for grades 3 – 5. Be sure to ask students to suggest tools and tricks that will best catch and keep their attention. What better source of inspiration for teachers than the students we serve!

For younger children in grades K – 2, you can set out a colorful bucket of pennies with a sign that reads FREE PENNIES – TAKE ONE PENNY – MAKE ONE WISH. Wishes are free anyway but wishing on a penny plays on the old-timey idea of a penny for your thoughts. This leads to another idea for an activity you can share in a circle with students in early grades. Invite children to take turns telling about something special they received for FREE. Be prepared for some surprising answers!

Speaking of surprises, you might find more if you introduce a new creative writing prompt that asks students in grades 2 – 5 to describe in words what they wish would be FREE.

In a word, the word FREE can offer educators endless possibilities!

There’s an old adage, “The best things in life are FREE,” but I’ve been thinking as I’ve been writing this week’s blog – Teachers have precious little FREE TIME. The best of life takes dedicated time to develop – like the children we carefully teach with fun and functional attention-getting tools and tricks.

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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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: Students continue to use lackluster verbs in their writing.

Solution: Show toy cars and pretend to make them zip across a page, telling the class that good writing includes action words (verbs) that have "zip." Ask the class for examples of "zippy" verbs like zoom, race, flash, rush, etc.

Related Posts: Start Students' Engines for Writing