Work with Wow Moments in Teaching

Catch kids' dreams of outdoor adventures.

Catching kids’ dreams of outdoor adventures is one way to work with wow moments in teaching.

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

Wherever you live in the world, nature…awesome nature, presents seasonal sounds that can help teachers work with wow moments in teaching.

This time of year in the northern hemisphere, seasonal sounds may be full of fury…

snowstorms raging, waters rushing, ice storms terrifying distracted drivers…the list goes on.

In the southern hemisphere in December, a different story unfolds with seasonal sounds.

Each season offers teachers opportunities to work with wow moments in teaching.

One of my wow moments came in the form of a quick activity that I tried to catch the attention of twenty-five fourth graders before introducing a new writing assignment.

I wasn’t sure if my class would “buy in” to simulating the amazing sound of waves rising in the ocean and crashing on the beach.


It was a WOW moment for me to see the students transfixed by my ocean simulation!

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

"Shake those hands; shake 'em to wake 'em!"

Arms raised high simulate ocean waves rising.

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.

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.

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.

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

Try it; see if you can work with this wow moment in teaching.

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

Asking students to pay attention to sound and the other four senses by simulating nature 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!”

I designed my ocean simulation to be an attention-getting trick and also a tool to help children connect with the outdoor world.

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.

Set up a Vacation Station that features Poetry Paradise.

Pausing to enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature can be a welcome antidote to the bad news that confronts and sometimes consumes us each day.

Seasonal Sounds – 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 laughs, fall whispers, campfires crackle and hiss, spring 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, by actually stepping outdoors or through sound simulation inside class, isn’t just a way to work with wow moments in teaching…

this manner of embracing nature may be a welcome antidote to the bad news that confronts and sometimes consumes us each day – students, parents, and teachers alike.

What are your wow moments in teaching? Please send comments.

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

Talk with you next week,

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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