Sporty Activities Score Kids’ Attention

"Let's get sporty!

“Let’s get sporty!”

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus to highlight #15 of The FAB 15 A-GEs – Attention-getting elements…Games & Sports!

Attentionology recently featured games. Today’s focus is on sports.

Just about every kid jumps at the chance to watch or play sports. Ask K-5 students to name a favorite sport and most will quickly shout out with the zeal of fans at a nail-biter of a game.

Teachers, camp counselors, program directors and others who work with kids can tap children’s enthusiasm for sports to help achieve behavioral and educational goals. For example, when kids aren’t cooperating with you or each other, remind them that “we work together as a team here, like the pros on the __________ (name a sport/team).” “There’s no room for the me-me-me syndrome!”

Stuck with bad weather? Opt for sporty activities indoors that take kids outside, at least through their imaginations. Standing, stretching, pretending to swim, for example, gives kids a chance to work out the wiggles, laugh like “fish out of water,” and get ready to focus on what’s coming next in class or camp…

A play-by-play review of the FAB 15 elements that attentionology has explored to date puts fourteen and a half elements on the current scoreboard…

1) attracting appearance & presence 2) enthusiasm 3) voice 4) eye-catching visuals 5) word choice 6) color 7) music 8) entertainment 9) interaction 10) humor 11) surprise 12) dramatic movement 13) imagination 14) puppetry & personification 15) games.

Let’s add sports to the mix. Think of yourself as a “coach.” “Recruit” A-GEs – attention-getting elements – to be assistants in your program planning. 

A teacher’s or camp counselor’s world is mostly composed of spaces full of children, a curriculum or program to follow, classroom management guidelines and hours of work with the kids and after they’ve left for the day. Keeping one’s composure in this action-packed, time-compressed, noisy and demanding composition is a challenge – not unlike sports!

Let the sporty activities begin! Try this…

Give Math a Shot! SCORE BIG! 

Set up a small net and play a simple math game where students who offer correct answers to problems you pose get to shoot a small basketball. If they make the

"Sports stars, give Math a shot!"

“Sports stars, give Math a shot!”

shot they get to pose the next math problem. It’s a little like the US game of round robin, but the focus is on reinforcing math skills, building kids’ confidence and ability to think and act quickly.

Inexpensive soft small basketball sets are available in dollar stores and toy stores. I recommend setting up your basketball net on an as-needed basis, not as a permanent fixture in your classroom. Otherwise the game may lose its magical power to catch and keep kids’ attention.

Encouraging your students to be “HOT SHOT KIDS” has applications in all subject areas. Let kids take turns shooting some hoops, for example, to loosen up for a spelling test.

Connecting learning with the opportunity to have some fun with small-scale sporty activities in class is a proven incentive for K – 5 kids, rain or shine. You may even find that your most reluctant learners jump at the chance to shoot some hoops or play another game – becoming more engaged in learning as they score.

Try this…

Get Kids Moving to Get Ready for the Day!

Got kids that seem like they’re still asleep when they get to school or day camp? Pick up on kids’ interest in sports and lead them in some warm-ups to start the day. Why wait for Recess? In a few minutes’ time, you can help kids “pump oxygen to their brains!” A warm-up can be as simple as asking the class to do five jumping jacks in place. Jump for a class full of more alert students!

Sporty activities may also include creating class or camp teams. Invite kids to submit suggested team names. Write the entries on slips of paper; drop them in a bag or box (preferably one with a sporty design) and hold a random drawing for the winners. Once your teams are named, you can use teams to organize students into groups, motivate “team play,” encourage winning attitudes…the list goes on wherever you want to take it.

Sports themes make effective writing prompts too. Invite kids to write a story or poem about their favorite sport. Suggest that students download or clip news coverage about a star player or game to use as the basis for writing opinion about who’s the best player/team in that sport and why.

Use warm-ups to introduce a sports-themed writing time by announcing that the class needs to “warm-up for writing.” Ask students/campers to stand in place with space between them (to avoid injuries) and mimic the action of a sport, like swinging back a bat for baseball and hitting a home run. Kids love this!

Sporty activities draw children in; they’re attention-getters that can be game-changers in how well kids stay focused and learn.

Please look for Attentionology for K-5 Teachers on Monday.

Talk with you 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
Situation: Young students are getting noisy while you’re trying to teach.

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."

Related Posts: Let "Listen Star" Work Magic for You