Get Kids Laughing to Learn

What's under and in the magic hat? Elements to catch and keep kids' attention!

What’s under and in the magic hat? Elements to catch and keep kids’ attention!

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus to assess how more of the 15 FAB 15 A-GEs – Attention- Getting Elements can support K – 5 curricula and teachers’ classroom management strategies…

…Today’s A-GEs: Interaction and Humor. These elements aren’t just hiding under the Magic Hat; they’re in it!

The Magic Hat is an example of a teaching tool with what I call “A-GE ABCs.”

Here’s what I mean…a magic hat placed on a classroom table before the beginning of a school day by a teacher with a specific goal can do the following: a) invite student interaction b) add humor to a school day by making children laugh when their teacher “pretends” to be a magician c) reveal a lesson focus when the teacher lifts the hat.

A quick review of previous posts presenting A-GEs shows that so far we’ve looked at eight of the 15 elements:

1. attracting appearance and presence

2. enthusiasm

3. voice

4. eye-catching visuals

5. word choice

6. color

7. music

8. entertainment.

Teachers know that the value of these elements isn’t about them, it’s about the BENEFITS teachers get when they use these elements in lesson plans, transition times and school activities every single school day! On to the next element…

A-GE #9 – Interaction

It’s a “no-brainer” that children and adults stay more engaged in any activity, anywhere, anytime if they are interacting with other people, in person or by virtual

Children interact with their teacher, answering her question about a projected image they're responding to with enthusiasm.

Children interact with their teacher, answering her question about a projected image they’re responding to with enthusiasm.

communications. Research shows this, but it’s also a “no-brainer;” the best interactions are ones that make personal connections.

Teachers that have access to a document camera or Smartboard can generate in person and virtual interactions like you see occurring in my blog pic here.

Creative teachers can generate more interaction to keep kids’ attention by embracing new approaches for age-old activities,  like reading aloud to children.

One of the best principles of effective interaction is this…

…remember to talk WITH others, not talk TO them.

Plan ways to interact with your class that begin with the mind trick of “putting yourself in the kids’ shoes. Think about people who you interact with and who makes you “do your best” and “feel best.” What tools and “tricks” do they use?

Nothing breaks the barrier to productive interaction more than humor.

A-GE # 10 – Humor

Know a funny joke? I do too. Here’s one for teachers that work with the English language. I’m not sure it’d be as funny in translation to other languages of the world. But, let’s give it a try…

…A little boy came home from school one day and with a long sad face told his mother, “My teacher called me a scurvy elephant in class elephant today.” His mother was alarmed and she promised to call the principal’s office to investigate the situation. “Hello, this is Ms. Wetherspoon,” she said on her cell phone the next day from work. “My son, Ethan, told me when he got home yesterday from school his teacher, Ms. Greeno, called him a scurvy elephant.” “If I can get you to hold, I’ll check on that for you,” replied the principal’s assistant. When the assistant came back on her cell phone she said, “Ms. Wetherspoon, thanks for holding, Ms. Greeno called your son a disturbing element.”

Speaking of elements!

Here’s a quick trick that employs humor to relax and ready kids for learning at the beginning of a school day…Offer up what sounds like a spontaneous humorous poem. Introduce it by casually saying that you’re looking and seeing that many members of your class appear to be wishing they were somewhere…anywhere…other than in school! Say “I know what you’re thinking…”

Why oh why oh why am I….

sitting here in school…

…when I could be swimming

in my neighborhood pool!

I promise that your class will laugh.

Humor isn’t just the best medicine; it’s a classroom-tested teaching tool. For older elementary kids, try this humorous trick: The Complaint Line Isn’t Open!

What’s funny out your way? Please send comments.

Check back with on Monday for a new Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers.

Talk WITH you then,

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 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!"

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