Let “Listen Star” Work Magic for You

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

Take a deep dramatic breath; hold it; release the air slowly and as you do, push your hands out in front of you and then stretch your arms to your sides as far as you can reach without moving your feet or seat. Repeat. If you want to add variety, raise your arms high after you push them to your sides and then let them fall back down gently to close the exercise. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Congratulations! You’ve just engaged in a simple, healthy, effective attention-getting trick that works like a charm with K – 5 kids when you demonstrate first and then invite the class to do the breathing exercises with you.

Is it ballet? Not exactly, but professional ballet dancers incorporate similar moves in some of their dance movements and certainly include breathing exercises, like the ones you’ve just done, in their workouts.

Am I a ballet dancer? No, but the good news is that we teachers are not required to be practicing professional artists to successfully integrate the arts into activities that help catch and keep students’ attention. 

What are we required to do? One answer is to commit to learning new arts-related attention-ology tools and tricks and muster the courage to try them out in class! I’m convinced that teaching is a performing art anyway – meaning – you have to command your audience’s (the children’s) attention to help them stay on task and learn.

One arts integration activity I’ve created and successfully classroom-tested with students in the early grades is “Listen Star.” 

"Listen Star" has magical listening abilities

“Listen Star” is a large star on a long wand with bells hanging from the lower star points. I keep “Listen Star” upside down in a large bright party bag. When I first introduce “Listen Star” to young children, I pull the wand out of the bag and wave the star back and forth way up high where everyone can see it. I tell my classes that “Listen Star” has “magical listening abilities.” I say, “When you see and hear ‘Listen Star’ dance and fly across the classroom sky (in a little ballet of its own), that’s a clue, that’s your cue to hush – I emphasize the word H-U-S-S-S-H – so that you can hear me clearly and I can hear you.” “Let’s give it a try,” I suggest, and I wave the star playfully, as if it were alive, and make its bells jingle to delight the kids and test once again the star’s attention-getting skill.

Teachers of students in the early grades love “Listen Star,” especially because this engaging tool is so easy to make. (See below)


Materials You Will Need:

  • A dowel or, simpler still, a long straw
  • Light-colored card stock or pre-packaged large star shape (available at teacher supply stores)
  • Pencil, colored markers
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Optional: hole punch, 2 small bells, ribbon or string

Steps to Follow:

  • If necessary, draw a large star on cardstock.
  • Cut out star shape.
  • Optional: draw a face on one side of the star to personalize “Listen Star.”
  • Tape star to the top of the dowel or straw, leaving a long “wand” to hold.
  • Optional: punch small holes in the tips of the two lowest star points. Thread ribbon or string through the bell tips and the holes and tie to secure.

Voila! “Listen Star” is ready to fly and not just in school classrooms. Attention-ology tools and tricks like “Listen Star” also work in church schools, after-school settings, vacation stations, anywhere adults work with young kids. Let “Listen Star” help you.

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 are acting sluggish in class.

Solution: Show "The BIG E," for ENERGY, an enlarged letter E (or other first letter for the word energy in your alphabet), available in craft stores. Remind the class that energy is a must-have item to get good work done. Tell the class to show you "The BIG E!"

Related Posts: Show Off "The Big E"