The Attentionology Traveler

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

Hi! I caught a bug in a classroom I recently visited, but it wasn’t the kind that causes the flu; it was another attention catcher – keeper…


See if you could use this tool too…

The bugs (three large plastic toy insects) were sitting on a table near the classroom library, probably leftover from a science project.  I got another attentionology idea looking at them, shown in my blog pic below.

I picked one of the bugs up to ask about it and a kid in class suggested that it was a love bug! In the English language “love bug” is a term of endearment. I don’t know (please tell me if you know) whether this expression translates well into other languages and cultures. If not but you like this attentionology trick, you can present it as part of an English language lesson.

The trick…turn plastic toy “love bugs”

Attention Bugs crawl across papers to help kids stay on task in class.


Here’s what to say to kids: “Attention Bugs LOVE to pay attention in school.  Attention Bugs are also Love Bugs.”

Get the class involved in the concept. “Do Attention Bugs only show up for Valentine’s Day because they’re Love Bugs?” you might ask. “NO! Attention Bugs LOVE to pay attention all year ’round!” 

Look for an inexpensive bag of plastic toy insects in a dollar, toy, or “big box” store. When you introduce this attentionology trick, tell the class that staying focused and on task is SO IMPORTANT, you’re giving an Attention Bug to every student. Pass out the toy insects and explain that students may keep the bugs on top of or inside their desks as Pay Attention Reminders.

Once you’ve introduced Attention Bugs to your class they become helpful classroom management tools. If a student starts to lose focus during a lesson, you can suggest that he/she quickly touch his/her Attention Bug to get back on track. Attention bugs can help eliminate lost time in class. 

Another trick…Know the English expression, “I’ll put a bug in his/her ear,” meaning I’ll offer a suggestion? Keep a plastic toy insect (the teacher’s Attention Bug) in your pocket or hand as you walk around class checking on student work. When you see that a student has made mistakes with a set of math problems or spelling words, for example, gently bring your Attention Bug near the child’s ear and whisper, “My Attention Bug hopes that you’ll check for mistakes before turning in your paper. Remember to pay close attention to your work!” 

Attention Bugs help students stay focused all year long!

You can also use your teacher’s Attention Bug to remind the whole class to stay focused at the outset of a lesson, like you see in my blog pic here.

Most kids love bugs, the harmless kind. Attention Bugs will get their attention.

Use word play when you show the bugs. For example, you can say, “The butterfly dances for joy when she spells a word right because she listened so well in flight.”  

We’re all challenged with teaching distraction-prone students. Create an Attention Bug craze in your class to help kids stay on task!

Traveling on…

Barbara The 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 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.

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