Attention-Getting Teaching Tools are in the Bag!

Use a small felt bag or better still, a clear plastic bag to make "Opportunity Bags" for children.

Use a small felt bag decorated with a funny creature to create a bag of writing prompts.

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

Attention-getting teaching tools are in the bag…


Colorful, interesting, fun and funny bags of all kinds beg for attention.

Bags, plain and fancy, can become focal points for learning activities.

Use bags as hooks into lessons. For example…

Bag of Alien Writing Prompts – Select a paper or fabric bag with an alien or other funny character on the front.

Use the bag to hold paper slips with story starters for students to choose at writing time.

As a hook into the writing lesson, announce that you discovered an “alien (or other character) invasion” of story starters on your desk that morning.

Students will enjoy the ruse.

Tell them that a message arrived with the bag, begging for attention on building students’ core writing skills.

Walk around the classroom and invite students to reach into the bag to catch a story starter.

Place the bag in a prominent place during writing time.

Create Opportunity Bags for Attention – Introduce your students to a cool tool to spur creativity and foster the important ability to stay focused

An "opportunity bag" with contents that represent activities for school vacation time

Invite kids to drop small objects that connect to learning skills into “opportunity bags.”

and on task.

In grades K – 3, use decorative cellophane bags with attractive colors and designs, available in dollar stores and party supply stores.

In grades 4 and 5, use clear inexpensive cellophane bags like small “baggies” or newspaper covers.

Drop in small objects that connect to listening and learning skills, and plan time to discuss each object and its connection to paying attention with students.

Good choices for Opportunity Bags that beg attention on attention itself  include:

  • star stickers to symbolize star listeners
  • chocolate kisses or other small candy as a sweet thank you for staying on task
  • small inexpensive pencil sharpeners to remind students to get to the point
  • small achievement certificates (Use a copier to print reduced-size certificates) to make the connection between paying attention and achieving goals
  • smallest value coin in your currency to remind students that a good education is a path toward earning power

Use bags to decrease distractions. How?…

Beg for Attention with a Distraction Bag – 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.

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 a large clear, easy-to-open plastic bag with a title page that begs for attention and imparts a strong message.

Kids immediately get the humor in it.

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!”

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.

Use them to create a new sense of focus on getting good work done in school.  

Distraction bags are especially timely because the word distracted keeps popping up, not just in safety and business news, but also in school.

“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…”

In years past, the term, distracted students, usually referred to children who were diagnosed with attention deficit disorders.

No more.

Distracted students who struggle in school now come in all descriptions.

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

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.
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