Write ‘Em Up! Get Everyone on the Autograph Rhyme Time Team

A poster with smart advice for K-5 students.

When kids need to settle down and focus on lessons, post and recite attention-getting ditties and rhymes.

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

The month of May signals the nearing end of another school term in K – 5 classrooms around the world. Ends of school terms can bring a whirl of activity and… hyperactivity in K – 5 kids.

Recite short and fun attention-getting ditties and rhymes to help students settle down and focus on lessons during busy school days.

Join the Autograph Rhyme Time Team – Offer kids a unique opportunity to join the Autograph Rhyme Time Team.

Background: I had some library reading time between classes that I was teaching recently. I picked up a book of autograph rhymes that took me back to my own earlier years and brought me forward with a new attention-getting trick…

Create an Autograph Rhyme Time Team booklet – Start the school day or spend a few minutes at transition times sharing autograph rhymes and guiding the class in creating your own Autograph Rhyme Time Team booklet. Start by introducing students to age-appropriate selections from Yours Till Banana Splits (Splits).

Educators continue to debate the two-sided role of technology: 1) cause of children's inability to sustain concentration, 2) valuable teaching tool.

Use technology, if it’s available, to record the class autograph rhymes. Challenge students to find or create graphics or illustrations to go with their rhymes and ditties.

This collection of 201 autograph rhymes was compiled by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen. (Morrow Junior Books, New York) Splits is full of writing that invites everyone to join the Autograph Rhyme Time Team and make up their own rhymes for a “team” booklet.

Autograph rhymes, as Cole and Calmenson explain, harken back to school yearbooks. Remember them…albums full of photos framed by the autographs of friends and teachers and little rhymes and ditties about friendship and good wishes, predictions and silly stuff?

Kids love silly stuff, and they love to sign their names to their writing, as the following three-liner from Splits explains:

Ha, ha, ha!

It makes me laugh

To sign my own autograph.

____________________ (sign your name)

During each Autograph Rhyme Time Team time, read or invite a student to read one rhyme aloud and then open the floor to students creating a new rhyme or ditty to add to your class’ booklet. And…

Let's face it...kids need extra reminders to be safety smart at the start of a new school year.

Make curriculum connections as you and your class create rhymes for your Autograph Rhyme Time Team booklet.

Make Curriculum Connections – Make curriculum connections as you and your class create rhymes and ditties for your Autograph Rhyme Time Team booklet.

If students have trouble thinking some up, offer some that I’ve written or edited with curriculum connections, and make up your own to suit your needs and interests.

Try sharing these… (Safety) Red light stop/Green light go/Yellow light wait/Being safety smart is great! (Math) Roses are red/Violets are blue/Math can be hard/Does one plus one equal two? (Math) Some say the number eight is great/I know of a juice called V-8/Oh no; it’s time to take a test I hate! (Writing) Can’t think/Brain dumb/Great ideas/won’t come/Bad ink/Worse pen/Best wishes/I know I’ll write, but when?

Create Graphics or Illustrations for your Autograph Rhyme Time Team booklet – Challenge students to find or create graphics or illustrations to go with their rhymes and ditties.


Yours Till, a long rhyme about devotion to friends in the book, Yours Till Banana Splits, includes a line with a play on the word, butterfly.

Catch attention with fun, funny ones like these from Splits

Tell me fast/Before I faint/Is we friends/Or is we ain’t?

There are gold ships/There are silver ships/But there’s no ship/Like friendship.

There’s green tea, black tea/Hot tea, iced tea/But there’s no tea/Like loyalty.

Yours till soda pops/Yours till meat balls bounce/Yours till bacon strips/Yours till butter flies.

Ask your Class for Help – When you first invite your class to join the Autograph Rhyme Time Team, explain as the editors of Splits write in the book’s introduction…

we (know) we (will) need a little help from our friends.

Classmates are friends; teachers are team leaders.

A booklet that is unique to a group is extra special, whether or not you start your Autograph Rhyme Time Team project now or save it for next term.

Use technology, if it’s available, to record the class rhymes or assign a student to be class recorder of the autograph rhymes. You maintain the collection.

Write ‘Em Up and Autograph On! – When you and the class decide that the booklet is ready to be published, circulate the pages in class so that all students can…what else…autograph their wonderful writing! Make copies of the booklet if possible and distribute one to each member of your class…

A little album with page after page/That we’ll enjoy reading now and in our old age.

Please send comments about group projects that have been effective in your class.

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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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."

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