Drop Distractions in the Distraction Bag!

"Good morning! Please drop your distractions in the DISTRACTION BAG before we start the day."

“Good morning! Please drop your distractions in the DISTRACTION BAG before we start the day.”

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus to feature a new attentionology tool…


If you’ve been following the news lately, you may have noticed, as I have, that the word distracted keeps popping up.

To paraphrase recent story leads: “Automobile crash blamed on driver distracted by text messaging…” “Corporate quarterly review laments lost work time from workplace injuries incurred by distracted employees…” “Disappointing school test results linked to attention problems in children…” 

Many teachers today face some students who are prone to slouching in seats, gazing off during instruction, struggling with anxieties, calling out, and growing restless more readily than students in past years. The word distraction may very well be popping in these educators’ ears.

These teachers need a DISTRACTION BAG that they can use to engage kids in consciously de-cluttering their minds as they enter class or get ready for the first lesson of the day. How? By using the bag to act out the process of ditching distractions…dropping them out of sight…out of mind.

Research suggests that what I call the D-Q – distractibility quotient – has skyrocketed dramatically since the year 2000. No doubt about it…distracted students struggle to pay attention…

If children in grades K – 5 today have trouble paying attention in elementary school now, imagine the challenges they will face as they age into higher grades and adulthood later. Attention problems are not limited to children in elementary classrooms. Loss of focus now plagues people over 50 years old as well, according to research conducted by AARP.

These concerns are not limited to those who have been “officially” diagnosed with attention deficit disorders. Author, Maggie Jackson has written a book titled, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Says Jackson, “we’re facing the limit of human ability to cope with stimuli in our environment.” Some call this phenomenon an “information overload that has become an attention crisis.”  Some call it the “culture of distraction” and “information-fatigue syndrome.” 

Call it what you like, the root cause of the “attention crisis” is almost always identified as technology-based stimuli that come in droves and can scramble the best brains.

Clearly, technology is here to stay and smart teachers embrace technology in the classroom when it’s practical and possible to do so. But, sometimes low-tech is best. A DISTRACTION BAG is obviously a “low-tech” attention-getting tool. Does it work? I’ve tested it out and it’s a winner.

Take a closer look at how simple it is!

A DISTRACTION BAG can simply be a large clear, easy-to-open plastic bag with a title page that identifies its purpose.

A DISTRACTION BAG can simply be a large clear, easy-to-open plastic bag with a title page that identifies its purpose.

A DISTRACTION BAG is nothing more than a large clear – and clearly identified – plastic bag that a teacher can easily open in front of students. Kids immediately get the humor in it. Remember, humor is a huge FAB-15 A-GE – attention-getting element.

All you have to do is hold up the bag and announce with a strong voice, that “before we start the day, class, I’d like everyone to drop your distractions in the DISTRACTION BAG I’m holding here. Tell you what…I think the bag can catch all of the distractions we want to ditch for now, so I’ll open it on the count of three, and you throw your distractions towards the bag.”

After the class joins in the instant act, simply say, “Thanks so much. Oh, that’s much better. Now I have a good sense that you are all ready to focus on learning!”

As time allows, make the connection with your K – 5 kids, in age appropriate ways, that dropping distractions into a DISTRACTION BAG is a great way to de-clutter our minds and create a new sense of organization and focus.  

You might offer students in grades 4 and 5 an analogy between de-cluttering a mind, for example, and de-cluttering one’s desk. Kids might even be cool with keeping a personal DISTRACTION BAG in their desks.

Large clear, easy-to-open plastic bags are inexpensive. Turn them into DISTRACTION BAGS and you have classroom management and teaching tools that are worth their weight in gold!

Hope you’ll stop by tomorrow for Part II of International Festival of Attention-Grabbers – Vietnam.

Talk with again on Monday with Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers,

Barbara The Lovable Poet














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Posted in 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.
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