Catch Attention Creating Ah-ha Moments!

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

Think back to the last time you uttered the words, “I didn’t know that!” “Ah-ha moments” can happen at any age. Good feelings usually accompany “ah-ha moments,” don’t you think, because new learning, new understanding, new appreciation of something satisfies a curious mind. Yes, I think it takes a curious mind to experience “ah-ha moments,” but children are born curious. That’s good news for teachers. Yes, children are “new chapters, waiting to be written.”

“Ah-ha moments” can be self-generated, meaning that the discovery is private, but more often than not they occur when we’re looking at and listening to someone who is teaching us, in school, at home, elsewhere in the community.

I love hearing kids call out, “I didn’t know that!” It happens when I hold up a big beautiful welk, a common sea-snail shell found in many countries that border an ocean, when I read a poem from a seaside collection. (See poem below) Look at my welk; it looks like a giant against the ocean painting in my blog pic below!

Is it a seashell or a spinning top?

What don’t the kids know until I show it? Two things – the name of the shell and the origin of its name. I tell the kids that the root of the word welk is from the Indo-European word wel, meaning “to turn or revolve.” Look again at my welk and see how it appears to be turning like a top.

Tell Me Your Secrets 

Tell me your secrets, pretty shell,

I will promise not to tell,

Humming, humming, soft and low,

All about the sea, I know.

You are murmuring, I think

Of the sea-weeds, green and pink,

Of the tiny baby shells,

Where the mother mermaid dwells.

Pretty shell, I’m waiting here,

Come and whisper in my ear.


Show and Tell is mostly associated with young children, but Froma Harrop, the popular columnist with Creators Syndicate, reminded readers recently that children of all ages do well with Show and Tell. Harrop was writing about French children because her column featured the new book by journalist, Pamela Druckerman, titled “Bringing up Bebe (Bebe is the French word for baby): One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.” One of Drukerman’s observations as an American living in Paris – French parents spend a lot of time reading to their children and showing things to them.

Here’s a Show, Tell and Ask Trick to Try – Find a collection of objects that date back to a by-gone era, like the bone shoehorn and other objects in my blog pic below. The shoehorn and matching face mirror (face down), for example, belonged to my great-grandmother.


What's a shoehorn, that thing with a handle on the old wood chest?

At an appropriate time, depending on your Social Studies curriculum, set your found objects on a classroom table for a game of  Show, Ask, Tell!

It’s an “ah-ha moment”-in-waiting when you select objects from your personal experience to share with your class in a show, ask and tell manner.  When kids see my great-grandmother’s treasures, I can show, ask and tell about these objects from personal experience.  I can show the shoehorn and ask if anyone knows what it is. Based on the students’ response I can go on to explain that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people – especially men – used shoehorns to assist them in putting on their shoes each day. (Add in a science connection: shoehorns functioned as levers to elevate the back of the foot so that each foot could slide into a rigid shoe.)

You get the idea; the idea is to help kids learn about where, as a society, they/we come from. The key, of course, is to select objects from your corner of the world that will have some relevance to your students  – where you’ve lived and/or where you are now – to share. This makes the experience authentic, and your personal choice of objects will add depth to your impact on students.

“Ah-ha moments” involving K – 5 students can happily lead to more extensive investigations. When kids learn something new that interests them, they’re eager to know even more. Smart teachers can create “ah-ha moments” to generate stronger interest in core subjects, including the currently popular (at least in the US) S.T.E.M. subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), like I suggested above in my shoehorn=lever example.

You may be familiar with the phrases, “Children learn by doing,” and “Children learn what they live.” As teachers and parents, we have an obligation, don’t you agree, to offer our children a colorful palette to provide for their education and development. Together, we can create memorable “ah-ha moments.”

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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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: 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"