Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!
Today is “Labor Day” in America; different countries recognize their workforce on dates other than the first Monday of September. Across the world, though, it’s fair to say that many adults, including teachers, spend part of their national “Labor Day holiday” fixing something up.
I was reminded of this last week on the heels of Hurricane Irene – a storm that spelled disaster for a huge chunk of real estate first in the Caribbean and then in the US, from North Carolina up the east coast to New England and upstate New York. For victims of Irene, Labor Day this year will be remembered, not as the last weekend of summer vacation, but rather as post-Irene clean up time.
Nothing like a hurricane to catch and keep the attention of children and adults! Most of the attention, of course, is on the destruction and resulting emotional and economic heartache. But one Irene story in the news last week caught my attention because it featured a joyful discovery after the storm. The story was about the amazing quantity and variety of shells that wash ashore in hurricanes. A photo with the story showed two young children and one adult bent over something special in the sand. I could almost hear the younger child saying with delight, “Look what I found!”
Now look at the boy in the middle of the group of third grade students in my blog pic below. Doesn’t he look like he could be saying, “Look what I found!”, too? He and his classmates were on their school playground last spring, digging for rocks and other gifts from “Mother Nature” to bring inside and write about with me.
Pleasantly commanding your class to stop and check out what you have in hand when you shout out, “Look what I found!” is a fun and functional attention-getting trick suitable for grades K – 5. As you express excitement about found objects or found information or found items that had been lost, or…the list goes on…you model the joy of discovery for your class.
Here are a few specific applications of “Look what I found!” that you might try with your curriculum:
Science – You can focus on the importance of reusing found objects as part of a unit on Environmental Education by bringing in something you found that you’ve figured out a way to reuse. For example, I picked up a big round piece of cardboard this weekend at a home improvement store. It was on the ground near the pine straw truck and the store employee nodded his okay when I inquired about taking the big circle home. I plan to turn it into a giant clock to use for storytelling time. Before I do that, though, I’ll show it to some K – 2 grade students and say, “Look what I found on the ground in an unexpected place!”
Reading – Share the pleasure of tapping into one’s family history by bringing an old book to class – maybe one that you found hidden in an old box in the attic or a loved one’s home. I have my grandmother’s book of poetry on a shelf next to my desk. It was a gift to her from my great-grandfather. My students’ eyes grow big when I tell them how old this book is before I challenge them to find the oldest book in their own home. I ask the students to write down the title, author, publisher, year of publication, and if possible, borrow the book to bring to school. This book-based activity is a great way to help third, fourth and fifth graders make a new connection with history and social studies.
Game of Discovery – Turn “Look what I found!” into a game for your students. After you show the class something special that you’ve found, invite the children to do the same. You might call this a variation of “Show and Tell” but the focus is on the joy of discovery, so it becomes “Find, Show and Tell” and you can plan the game to suit your grade level.
In a world full of distractions, it sometimes seems that children today (and adults) are too busy to pause as much as we could to savor simple but special discoveries. As teachers, we have the opportunity to help children do just that by looking, finding, thinking about discoveries together. In the process we can help students develop a better ability to pay attention.
Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!
Talk with you next week,
Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet