M&Ms Please!

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

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate the eve of a day honoring the departed who’ve been a special part of our lives.

Most celebrated today, at least in the USA? CANDY!

Looking for a teaching trick that uses candy treats and helps kids pay attention in school? Meet Regina McKearney, third grade teacher, and her buddy – “Red,” a life-size M&M.

Regina McKearney and "Red" with welcoming smiles

(I’ve served as a writer-in-residence in Ms. McKearney’s class for three years. During each visit we exchange ideas and teaching resources and we share a concern about the growing challenge of catching and keeping kids’ attention.)

Big “Red,” standing guard at Ms. McKearney’s door, was new to me this school year. He certainly got my attention as I headed into a room full of the “Mighty M&Ms” – Ms. McKearney’s nickname for her class! How did this clever teacher score such an eye-catching icon?

Ms. McKearney says that she’s been a collector of M&M memorabilia since she was a child herself. Check out the M&M tablecloth in my blog pic below; it’s a popular student reading spot and classroom organization destination. 

Eye-catching M&M tablecloth

In all her years of M&M collecting however, Ms. McKearney explains, one long wished-for piece was missing…the lifesize M&M dispenser that now stands by her classroom door. Here’s the simple trick Ms. McKearney used to complete her collection…she asked and she received! Actually, her son contacted the Mars Candy marketing department and described his mother’s class of Mighty M&Ms. When the students returned from Christmas break last year, there was “Red,” waiting to greet them with his smiling face and big white shoes.

Stepping into a new semester, Ms. McKearney invited each student to write a thank you letter to Mars Candy and draw a picture of “Red.” She mailed the collection to the company with a group photo of her class standing by their new adopted mascot. The story doesn’t end there…the company returned Ms. McKearney’s courtesy by sending each of her students a personally written letter, picture package of various M&M characters and best of all…a box full of yummy candy!

Says Ms. McKearney, “My students learned valuable lessons from this experience. First, never be afraid to ask for something but always ask in a respectful manner. Second, handwritten thank you letters are a powerful, if almost lost, art.” “In this technology age,” Ms. McKearney notes, “it’s easy to send an e-mail but nothing can replace the personal nature of a handwritten note.”

If you have any M&Ms in your Halloween candy mix, enjoy their sweet taste and consider how you might use them as attention-getting tools.

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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  1. […] to their classrooms. One teacher I’ve taught with for several years welcomes kids with Big Red, a giant M & M “candy man” at her […]

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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