Put New Colorful, Fun, Funny Attention Tools to Work Each Day!

What time is it? It's time to pay attention! Let me show you today's Attention Tool!

“What time is it? It’s time to pay attention! Let me show you this afternoon’s Attention Tool!”

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

“What time is it?” You ask your K – 3 class.

Answer: “It’s time to pay attention, and I want YOU to see the special Attention Tool for School that I’ll be using right now,” you continue…

ON THE CLOCK – You point to a colorful, fun cardboard cutout of a clock ($1.00 – dollar store purchase) centered on a friendly tiger, or some other decorative design. “Look,” you continue, using the tiger design as an example, “the clock is in the paws of (give the tiger a name) Timoteo Tigre.” “Timoteo has a big grin, because you all are focused on him, and he loves that.” (personification at work to catch and keep kids’ attention.)

You follow this observation with, “Let’s give a shout out for time to pay attention! Say, ‘¡Hola, Timoteo Tigre;’ that’s Spanish for Hi Timothy Tiger!” “Everyone with me, ‘¡Hola, Timoteo Tigre! It’s time to pay attention!” 

Now the students are ready for lesson time. This is a perfect “hook” for Spanish study, but a decorative hand-held clock can help you lead into any subject or activity.

Ordinary objects, like clocks or kitchen timers, become powerful attention-grabbing tools when you present them in extraordinary ways, as I’ve described above.

KITCHEN TIMER RINGS IN ATTENTION TIME – A funny-looking kitchen timer offers another attention tool-for-the-day option. The one I use is shaped like a large tomato. Hold up your timer; call it a funny name, like “Crazy Tomato;” twist it to begin the timer ticking; and then move it back to zero to make it ring. Wait for your class to laugh and then remark that “Crazy Tomato” has just rung in attention time!

The sound of a timer’s ring is short-lived but the effect can be long-lasting. When I use my “Crazy Tomato” I simply hold it up and make it quickly ring when I want to catch and keep the class’ attention. I’m careful not to overuse the tool to avoid taking too much time away from instruction, or to prevent the timer from losing its power as an attention tool.

Check out more new colorful, fun, funny attention tools to work for a day at a time…

COME IN FOR A LANDING ON LEARNING – Help young students grasp the concept of settling down to focus on a task at hand. How? Use a toy airplane to dramatize “coming in for a landing.”

"AT-101, this is Control. It's time to make a landing for learning!"

“AT-101, this is Control. It’s time to make a landing for learning!”

Tell your class that you want to share “today’s attention tool.” Hold a colorful toy plane in your hand and make it “fly around you.” Announce that it’s time for the airplane to “come in for a landing on learning.”

Ask the class to help you in the control tower. “Repeat after me, class,” you say. “This is (your name), Room (number) Control Tower to Flight AT-101. It’s time to come in for a landing on learning.” The class repeats your command.

Make the plane simulate a landing on a nearby desk. If you choose a student’s desk, note that the landing for learning happened on ______________ (student’s name) desk. “Wow! The pilot must think that ________________ (student’s name) is ready to get to work,” you conclude.

If students’ attention wanes later in the day, refer back to your fun, funny, attention tool for the day. Remind the class that “all airplanes have landed for learning. Our minds can’t be in flying off  just now; we need to stay focused and on task.” 

If you work with students in Grade 3, consider discussing your use of an airplane as a metaphor for minds, perhaps during writing time. Like a plane, our minds are sometimes in flight, sometimes grounded. Ask the class what other metaphors they can create that connect with paying attention.

Toy airplanes can also become symbols of a traveling story, to help students develop storytelling and communication skills.

"Today's Attention Tool - my friend Petey, the Pug Pup, has a bag full of  'Good Work Bones' to give to good workers!"

“Today’s Attention Tool – my friend Petey, the Pug Pup, has a bag full of ‘Good Work Bones’ to give to good workers!”

GOOD WORK BONES REWARDS – Paper bones as rewards for paying attention in class are a big hit as Attention Tools with K – 2 kids.

Children quickly relate to stuffed animals that teachers “bring to life” through the magic of simple dramatic techniques, like making a toy dog “wag its tail.” I tell my young students that, “Petey, my Pug Pup, wags his tail whenever he sees children doing good work in school!”

What’s cool about all of these attention tools? They take minutes to pull together, and just minutes to use. Their impact is priceless, and timeless.

School days are full of time segments – morning work, math time, reading time, lunch time, etc.

WAVE TO THE PLANETS IN OUTER SPACE – When it’s science time, no matter what unit of study your class is on, you can use another colorful, fun, funny attention tool to get kids ready to learn.

Here’s the “hook”…Announce that on the way to science study today, you’d like to invite the class to take a quick trip with

"On our way to Science Time, class, let's wave to the planets!"

“On our way to Science Time, class, let’s wave to the planets on a quick trip to Outer Space!”

you to Outer Space. All eyes on you, hold up a graphic of the planets. (Plastic coated placemats that show the planets may be found in “big box” stores.)

Holding the graphic in one hand, ask the class to “wave to the planets.” If time allows, ask what else students see in Outer Space. This helps develop observation skills; readiness for more in-depth science studies in upper grades; and the ability to sustain concentration.

When the class is fully attentive, simply say, “Our spaceship has landed for another science lesson. Let’s get to it!”

WORDPLAY CATCHES ATTENTION – Children enjoy word play, including plays on words that you can connect to any subject, including science.

For example, see if your students can follow what is almost a tongue-twister. Tell your class something like, “Before we get to Lunch Time, we’ve got to get to Attention Time, so that Science Time right now will be a Good Learning Time!”

Ask who was paying attention and can repeat the wordplay back to you.

It’s about time for more good ideas on how to catch and keep K – 5 students’ attention. Please send comments and subscribe to attentionology.com.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Look for Mid-Week Focus on Wednesday.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara  The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
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 continue to use lackluster verbs in their writing.

Solution: Show toy cars and pretend to make them zip across a page, telling the class that good writing includes action words (verbs) that have "zip." Ask the class for examples of "zippy" verbs like zoom, race, flash, rush, etc.

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