Hands-on School Day Starters – Get Kids Ready to Focus!

Coach K applauding his 2014-15 team before Duke played Army on Sunday, 11/3/14. Photo courtesy of www.wralsports.fan.com

Winning coach, Mike Krzyzewski, uses applause to encourage his Duke University Men’s Basketball Team to win. Photo courtesy of www.wralsports.fan.com

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

Quick and attention-getting, like hands clapping, cheering us on to a win…

hands-on school day starters can help kids get ready to focus.

The win?

Success in school!

Put these hands-on school day starters to work in your classroom…

Lead Students in a Clap, Snap, Let’s Get Ready to Learn Cheer – Add a quick class cheer to your morning routine.

Instruct students to sit up and put their hands together to clap. Ask how fast they can then snap their fingers. Close the cheer with hands in the air and a call out – “Let’s Get Ready to Learn!”

Tell the class to be on the lookout each morning for your signal to cheer because it won’t come everyday; it will come as a surprise.

This in itself teaches focus.

Play Wake Up Little Cow! – Play Wake Up Little Cow as a School Day Starter with children in the early grades.

Wake up Little Cow! It's time to start the school day.

“Wake up Little Cow! It’s time to start the school day!”

Introduce Little Cow as early in the school year as possible by pointing out where Little Cow “lives” in your classroom. (A library shelf is a good home.)

NOTE: Any cuddly stuffed animal will work for this strategy; just change the activity name to suit your selection.

Here’s how to play…Walk over to where you have placed Little Cow in your classroom.
Lean over as if you’re talking to the animal and say, “Wake up Little Cow! It’s time to start the school day!” Ask the class to help you get Little Cow ready to focus by repeating what you’ve said to the animal. Then move Little Cow’s head and joyfully announce that Little Cow IS waking up and getting ready to focus!

Little kids love this simple, sweet school day starter. And, you can use Little Cow to promote good behavior, good spelling, good…whatever you choose her functions to be by having Little Cow “struggle” with tasks and inviting the class to help Little Cow do better.

Here’s a hands-on school day starter to catch the early morning attention of your third – fifth grade students…

Students sit on inventive seats and work collaboratively on creative learning projects.

Fifth graders working in groups to write a Students’ Pledge.

Lead a Recitation of a Students’ Pledge – Make a poster with the following pledge or one that you and your class write together.

Hang the Students’ Pledge on a bulletin board or wall in your classroom:


Help me to be curious about the world around me.

Help me to be prepared for the challenges I face today.

Help me to be open to difficult tasks.

Help me to be determined to complete my work.

Help me to be responsible in all I do.

Help me to accept people’s differences.

Help me to be kind in my thoughts and words.

Help me to be aware of my talents.

Help me to be myself and be the best that I can be!

USING the Students’ Pledge, rather than JUST POSTING it, helps students learn the words and take them to heart.

Get Kids’ to Focus on Healthy Eating with a Fun Hands-on Lunch Time Starter – While students are busy with work and not paying attention to you, slip a large stuffed animal like Harry Ape onto your chair with a sign, Please Eat a Healthy Lunch! that encourages

"Harry Ape" holds a sign to remind kids to eat a healthy lunch.

Harry Ape holds a sign to remind kids to eat a healthy lunch.

children to eat healthy at lunch time.

Act surprised to see Harry Ape in your chair and pick up the Please Eat a Healthy Lunch! sign.

Show the sign to the class and wonder aloud what Harry Ape eats at lunch to stay healthy. As time permits, ask the class to offer healthy choices.

NOTE: The effectiveness of teaching tools, including stuffed toys like Harry Ape, depends on HOW teachers use them.

It’s the strategy and the delivery that count.

It’s asking two key questions: What is my intent with this tool? How can I use it in age-appropriate ways with my students?

Please subscribe to www.attentionology.com and send comments with your ideas about school day starters that catch and keep K – 5 students’ attention.

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.
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