Catch Kids’ Attention with Nature’s Power

Lift arms up to simulate the rise of ocean waves about to crash down.

Lift arms up to simulate the rise of ocean waves about to crash down.

This week’s Mid-Week Focus features the power of nature to catch kids’ attention.

No matter what season of the year, many students always agree that the beach is a wonderful place to be.

Simulate the Sea – Even if you live a good distance from the ocean, you can quickly engage students by serving up the powerful sounds of nature – ocean waves – through simulation.

Call me “crazy” but it was a WOW moment for me as a teacher to see twenty-five fourth graders transfixed by my ocean simulation the first time I tried this trick!

I began with an invitation to visit the beach through our imaginations.

I explained that we were about to hear the sound of the sea, waves rising up high and crashing onto the sandy shore…

…Then I gracefully raised my arms together from my right side to over my head, making a whooshing wave sound as I did so.

What happened next?…

My next move – arms still together, I “crashed” them down in front of me and to my left side, making a paaa-chooooooo wave landing sound as my arms sped through the air.

"Paaa-chooooo!" Pretend waves crash on the beach.

“Paaa-chooooo!” Pretend waves crash on the beach.

Every student followed my lead, raising their arms and lowering their arms like waves in harmony.

A couple of kids even stood spontaneously and pretended they were surfing! “Look at me!” they shouted, their arms outstretched to balance on their imaginary boards.

Easy and Effective – I was amazed at the effectiveness of an attention-getting trick that requires nothing but a little guided movement and voice.

Try this trick; see if it works for you.

Bring the Outdoors Inside – Ask students to pay attention to sound and the other four senses by simulating nature. This trick is a wonderful way to bring the outdoors inside.

If you teach in the US, particularly, I wonder if you’ve noticed as I have that many kids seem to lack enthusiasm for spending time outdoors in activities other than organized sports.

I’ve had children in grades 2 – 5 stare blankly at me when I’ve asked them to name their favorite place outdoors, a place to write about – the beach, a river, a park, the woods, a mountain trail near a lake, even the closest yard or school playground.

I believe that teachers can help children change their thinking from, “I don’t really like to be outdoors” to “Let’s go outside, any way we can!”

Simulating the ocean and other powerful forces of nature, like the wind in a snowstorm, helps children connect with the outdoor world as you gain their attention in class.

Seasonal Sounds – Following is a writing activity suited for grades 3 – 5 that creates more opportunities to simulate the sounds of nature. You can modify this activity for younger students.

  • Begin the activity by writing phrases on the board that personify each season of the year, assigning sound words (underlined) as action words in the phrases. For example, summer sunshine laughsfall whisperscampfires crackle and hissspring sings songs of renewal.
  • Ask students to write four headings on new sheets of notebook paper, as follows: Sounds of Summer, Sounds of Fall, Sounds of Winter, Sounds of Spring. Under each heading have your students write sound words and phrases that they associate with each season.
  • Optional: Invite students to begin writing a story that takes place in one of the four seasons. Encourage the class to use words and phrases in the story that connect with the five senses.

Pausing to enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature’s power, by actually stepping outdoors or creating sound simulation in class, can be an antidote to the stressors that confront and sometimes consume us – students, parents, and teachers alike – each day.

What’s been your experience helping students connect with nature’s power? Please send comments and subscribe here.

Stop back by on Monday for Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers.

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