There’s a New AP for that – A-TTENTION P-LEASE!

"May I have your attention please."

“May I have your attention please.”

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus to feature more attention-getting activities to:

1) set a positive tone for a new school term.

2) help your students (and you) get to know each other as members of a class “team.”

Here’s a quick trick…when you’re about to take attendance one morning, announce with enthusiasm that “there’s a new AP for that!” (AP is misspelled on purpose.)

Glance around the room and explain that the new AP isn’t the APP kind; it’s the letters AP standing for ATTENTION PLEASE!

Once you’ve introduced this new AP, you can simply refer to it whenever you need to regain students’ attention. Loud or distracted kids? Ask them if they need your new AP for that!

A teacher’s plate is so full at the beginning – and throughout – a school year that catching and keeping students’ attention may get taken for granted, and “getting to know you” activities may seem to be unnecessary “extras.”

Not so! Think about how important paying attention and introductory events have been in your own life, in personal and professional settings. Take professional development workshops, for example. Aren’t the best ones those that open with “getting to know you” activities that help participants feel welcome and prepared to pay attention?

Kids starting a new school year will love your new AP for that. Check out a few more easy ways to engage your class and help students learn about each other…


Set aside time for students in grades 3 – 5 to pair up and take turns “interviewing” each other.

This is a great way to help kids learn to ask questions to become familiar with others. Even students who have matriculated together since Kindergarten

Two boys are about to get better acquainted during KIDS INTERVIEW KIDS time.

Two boys are about to get better acquainted during KIDS INTERVIEW KIDS time.

often don’t know much about each other. This is especially true in schools where students live in multiple neighborhoods. Many classmates don’t spend after-school hours together or time on weekends. In some communities children live two separate lives – school and home.

To help your class prepare for KIDS INTERVIEW KIDS, post guidelines for interviewing someone or lead a class discussion about the process before interviews start. Guidelines may include relevant, recommended and appropriate questions to ask, such as:

1) What did you do while school was out?

2) Have you ever traveled somewhere special to you?

3) Do you think school will be hard this year? 4) What’s your best subject?

5) Where do you spend holidays? 6) What are your favorite foods?

7) What’s your favorite sport?

Optional: Add a writing component to this activity by instructing students to write down the questions and answers in each pair of interviews.

Questions answered not only help people get acquainted. Answers often help people connect. “You like to play soccer? Me too! Maybe we can play together.”




Focus students’ attention on goals at the start of school by inviting them to “soar to new heights like a beautiful butterfly.”

Hang up a store-bought butterfly image, or better still, involve the whole class in a team-building activity – make a giant paper butterfly:

1) Find, trace or draw a giant butterfly shape that’s made of sturdy cardstock.

2) Distribute colored paper to students.

3) Ask kids to cut out pieces to glue to the butterfly shape to create wings, body, head and antennae (a science lesson in the making, also!)

4) Hang the finished butterfly on a wall or bulletin board, low enough for students to reach it (lower than shown here).

5) Make a sign to hang near the butterfly that reads, SOAR TO NEW HEIGHTS IN SCHOOL THIS YEAR!

6) Distribute index cards and invite students to write their goals for the term.

7) Allow students to post their goal cards all around the butterfly.

Optional: Allow time for students to read each other’s goals. Review the goals at the end of the school term to see how many were met. Repeat this activity at the start of the next term.

More start the school year activities are available online. The Teaching Channel recently featured a K – 2 class that’s learning to pay attention and getting to know each other as a team by exploring dance, movement, space and poetry together, under a creative teacher’s guidance. Take a look.

No matter what activities we choose to use, building a successful team inside our classrooms begins with students paying attention. It’s good that there’s a new AP for that!

Stop by on Monday for 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.
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