The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Motivating Kids

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus!

Mid-Week Focus is all about quick and easy ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

Let’s share insight and practical ideas. Let’s blend fun with function, and let’s FIND NEW WAYS TO MOTIVATE CHILDREN TO DO THEIR BEST IN SCHOOL!

Last Wednesday, a couple of “school day starters” were “under the magic hat” in Mid-Week Focus. This week offers more creative ways to start your school day in motivational ways. Try these two tricks…


Peppi cheers on kids to take responsibility for learning.

Why do teachers need to “set the stage” for learning? I think it’s because kids today face so many challenges and demands in a distracted world.

Many children begin their school days hungry – literally hungry.

Smart teachers never assume that all students in any corner of the world take their seats in class “hungry to learn”. Kids need an extra dose of motivation. They need to feel that they are an important part of your class “team.” Winning teams often have cheerleaders…

Enter Peppi, (shown in my blog pic above) an adorable puppy puppet to use as your class cheerleader. Peppi cost all of $1.00 (US). Got to love those dollar stores! I named the puppet Peppi because the root word (in English) is pep, as in pep rally.

Any puppet can be a class cheerleader. Use one you have or buy one and name it to suit your culture. As you can see, Peppi’s “stage” is a pre-printed poster that reads in capital letters: RESPONSIBILITY – IT’S ALL YOURS! Sets of motivational posters, like this one, are available in some dollar stores, in teacher supply stores and online.

With this motivational trick, all you need to do is:

  1. slip the small puppet on one hand,
  2. hold the poster up with the other hand,
  3. stand behind a table (or desk),
  4. announce to the class that it’s time for Peppi’s cheer.

Before you begin the cheer, remind students that the whole class needs to participate by answering Peppi’s questions. Make Peppi’s paws move a little when you lead the cheer with your comments and questions. (Teacher’s part is noted by T – Students’ part in bold print is noted by S)

Here’s the CHEER…

T: Okay kids, it’s time to cheer for your responsibility in school. WHO?

S: ME!









T&S in unison: LET’S START!

When you start the day with a motivational cheer like Peppi’s, it’s as if you’re saying to each student, “Please know that you’re a special part of my team.” You’re telling kids in a positive way that, no matter how they may have felt when they first got to class today, it’s time now to take responsibility to listen and learn.

A word about age-appropriateness for the use of puppets in teaching…there’s no question that puppets appeal to young children. If you’ve every used puppets yourself or viewed children watching a puppet show, you know that to be true.

Olympic mascots, like this little bear, are part of the summer games.

What surprised me recently was the interest fourth graders showed when I used a bear puppet (shown in my blog pic here) to talk about animal mascots in the summer Olympic games.

I was prepared to “ditch” the puppet if the students seemed offended in any way. To the contrary, they wanted me to bring the puppet behind its Olympic scarf around the room and talk with it! Please let me know if puppets help you motivate students.


I use this trick to warm kids up for writing time,

“Shake those hands; shake ’em to wake ’em!”

but it’s also effective at the start of a school day.

Begin this “trick” by standing in front of your seated class. Raise your arms high above your head.

Ask if everyone is ready to “shake ’em to wake ’em.” Shake your hands to your sides and ask the class to shake theirs (being careful not to bump anyone). Tell the kids that “we’ll shake ’em to wake ’em! Let’s wake up to learning!”

Remind your class that “we use our minds (point to your head), our hearts (point to your heart) and our hands (shake them again) to get good work done.”

No matter the weather, no matter students’ moods, using creative motivational tricks is a smart start for a productive school day.

Stop by next Wednesday for more Mid-Week Focus. On Monday Attentionology will be back with more magic.

All the best,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers, Mid-Week Focus
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.
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Solution: Hold up "Listen Star," a toy magic wand that you’ve designated to be a cue for quiet. Tell the class, "When you see our friend, 'Listen Star' dance across the classroom sky, that’s your signal to HUSH for a moment."

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