Year-round Opportunity Bags Help Kids Learn Focus Skills

Use a small felt bag or better still, a clear plastic bag to make "Opportunity Bags" for children.

Use small felt bags or better still, clear plastic bags to make “Opportunity Bags” for children.

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus to introduce a terrific tool to help kids do just that…focus!

Let’s face it…many elementary school students (and teachers) who have just concluded a term are ready to focus on nothing but fun and relaxation! Any must-do chores…please!!!

Some students head to camp during school breaks or to other “vacation destinations.”  Some go by choice; others only because their parents/caregivers send them.

The good news for caring adults…“school’s out” doesn’t have to mean that “education is on vacation.” Learning can take place anywhere. In fact, it’s widely known that children learn best when fun blends with function.

One critical function in our 21st century global community is for adults to see to it that every child learns how to stay on task. Why is this important? Think of the daily news stories that describe tragic incidents that have occurred because someone was distracted!

Our work is cut out for us. Here’s an idea to try for that task. This tool works year-round, in school or out…

…Create an Opportunity Bag for Attention. Kids love Opportunity Bags because they’re similar to party bags for birthday celebrations or other special events.

It’s easy to make age-appropriate Opportunity Bags. How?…Here’s how…

For students in grades K – 3, use decorative cellophane bags with colors and designs that are attractive to young children. Decorative cellophane bags come in seasonal packs – 20 or 25 count – and are usually available at “dollar stores” in the US. This type of bag is also sold in party supply stores.

Make and/or choose objects for K – 3 Opportunity Bags for Attention that have obvious connections to listening and learning skills.

"Let's think of this hand as a way to show that we need to stay on the task at hand."

“Let’s think of this hand as a way to show that we need to stay on the task at hand.”

 A few quick and easy examples (more below):

* a paper ear to symbolize listening

* a paper hand to stand for the task at hand

* a paper heart with the letter A printed on it to show that “we LOVE paying attention”

Assemble K – 3 Opportunity Bags for Attention ahead of group time or as a class project. You may need to hold up each object and discuss how each one connects to paying attention. You may have discovered as I have that even young children understand symbols when they are introduced clearly.

For students in grades 4 and 5, I recommend using clear inexpensive cellophane bags like small “baggies” or clear bags used to protect newspapers from bad weather at delivery time.

It’s important that each student receive his or her own Opportunity Bag so that the experience is personal.

Choose other attention-related objects that suit your grade level. Have fun yourself and be creative in making and choosing items that add value to this attentionology tool. Consider:

  • star stickers to symbolize star listeners
  • chocolate kisses or other small candy as a sweet thank you for staying on task
  • small inexpensive pencil sharpeners to remind students to get to the point
  • small achievement certificates (Use a copier to print reduced-size certificates) to make the connection between paying attention and achieving goals
  • smallest value coin in your currency to remind students that a good education is a path toward earning power

When you distribute the Opportunity Bags for Attention to students in grades 4 – 5, it’s important to take time to discuss connections between the objects in the bags and paying attention, as you would with younger children.

Invite older kids to guess at the symbolism of each object and discuss the attention connections. Ask them to suggest other objects that could serve as symbols of staying on task.

My experience tells me that children in all elementary grade levels jump at the opportunity to get an Opportunity Bag for Attention!

Hope you’ll take the opportunity to check back here on Monday – Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers.

Talk with you again soon,

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
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Solution: Show toy airplanes, pretending to make them "take off" across notebook paper. Explain to the class that stories, like airplanes, require clear "flight paths."

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