Simple Strategies For Getting Attention

How do you get all of your students’ attention?  As we move to student-centered learning, your students may be more engaged in small group work. Throughout your lessons, however, you may need to get their attention again.  How do you do it?

First of all, with any strategy you use, you must practice it before you actually use it.  My students love to do this!  It’s easy to see how they continue to improve.

Secondly, the success of each strategy depends on you, your group of students, their age, and their disposition. Figure out what works best. In a couple months, change it up with a new strategy.

 1. Get attention with something that creates an interesting sound.

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-9-29-03-pmWhat do you have readily available in your classroom?  One of the most interesting sounds I have in my classroom is a slide whistle.  If you have a big group of students, it quickly gets their attention.  Don’t have a slide whistle?  How about a tambourine or a kazoo?

(Check out West Music for interesting instruments.)

2.  Add a little rhythm to get attention.

Rhythm Clap (copyright © 2012 by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina)

(Clap on every syllable. Students echo your clap.)

I   like    ba-na-nas.      (I   like    ba-na-nas.)

I   like   po-ta-toes.        (I   like   po-ta-toes.)

I   like   to-ma-toes.     (I   like   to-ma-toes.)

3.   How about trying some rhyming conversations?  These help your students develop phonemic awareness too!

My Grade One students love “Hands on Top.”Smiling boy posing in front of a wall

Teacher says,  Hands on top! (put your hands on top of your head)

Students answer, That means “Stop!” (students do the same)

One, Two, Three, Eyes on Me is another rhyming conversation.

The teacher sings, “One, two, three, eyes on me.”  (so-so, mi, so-so, mi)

Hold up fingers as if you’re counting to three.  Point to yourself.

The students answer, “One, two, eyes on you!”(so, mi, so-so, mi)

Hold up fingers as if you’re counting to two.  Students point to the teacher.

My students then do “Peace and Quiet” by putting two fingers in the air (peace) and one finger to their lips (quiet).

 4.  Butterflies 

I lovimages-1e to pretend with my students.  Ask, “Where are your butterfly wings?  What color are your wings today?”  Pretend to paint each arm by gently rubbing it and naming a color.                                                        i.e  This wing is pink, but this one is purple.

Raise and lower your arms out to your sides as if you are flying. Inhale and exhale.

5. Candles

Finally, inhale while raising your arms from your sides to above your head. Touch your hands together above your head, then bring them down in front of you.  Exhale when your hands are in front of your mouth.  This is an effective way to calm students after a lively activity.

Having some strategies in place will help your classes run smoothly.

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Pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns

Pumpkin by hin255

Featured image courtesy of hin255/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

One of the “big ideas” we teach young learners is the concept of change. Babies grow up. Children can mark their height and see how they are changing. Little seeds planted in the ground in our little paper cups grow into plants. Small pumpkins grow into big pumpkins. Caterpillars turn into butterflies.

Halloween is filled with magical changes. Children put on costumes, and “change into” a princess, Spiderman, a witch, a ghost, or a character from their favorite Disney movie.

When we think of Halloween, we see the magical change of pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns.  When possible, I love to purchase a pumpkin for Halloween and teach children how to carve it into a jack-o-lantern.

In the classroom, it’s easy for students to use craft projects to show both a pumpkin and a jack-o-lantern. For a very simple art project, trace the outline of a pumpkin on orange construction paper. Students cut out the shape.  With colored pencils or crayons, they draw the ridges of the pumpkin on one side, and a face of a jack-o-lantern on the other.

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For more pumpkin craft ideas, check out my Pinterest page with simple cooking and craft ideas.

Here’s a simple chant to teach the words “pumpkin” and “jack-o-lantern.”

Show the students the plain side and say “pumpkin.” Then turn it around and say “jack-o-lantern.”  Once students know these two words, put it into this simple chant:

Jack-o-Lantern Chant by Kathleen Kampa

Pumpkin, pumpkin, (turn picture around) jack-o-lantern
Pumpkin, pumpkin, (turn picture around) jack-o-lantern
Pumpkin, pumpkin, (turn picture around) jack-o-lantern
Happy Halloween!

To add more fun, make a small pumpkin/jack-o-lantern and a big one. Students see the change from small to big, and from pumpkin to jack-o-lantern.

Here’s a simple Halloween song that my students absolutely love!

My dear friend Setsuko Toyama has made a beautiful rebus worksheet to help your students read both sight words and pictures.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Rebus Reading

Pumpkin, Pumpkin
(words adapted by Kathleen Kampa, music: traditional)

(Sit with students in a small circle. Sing quietly.)

Pumpkin, pumpkin, small and fat,
(With fingers, make the shape of a small pumpkin.)

Turn into a jack-o-lantern,
(Roll hands. Spread fingers out wide.)

Just like that!
(Tap two fingers on the palm of your hand as you say each word.)

(Sing the verse again!)

Spoken: Grow and grow and grow and grow
and grow and grow and grow and GROW!
(Slowly stand up while making a big pumpkin shape. If you’re standing in a circle with the students, make it bigger. Get louder! Crescendo!)

(Sing loudly.)

Pumpkin, pumpkin, big and fat,
(While standing, make the shape of a big pumpkin with your whole body.)

Turn into a jack-o-lantern,
(Turn around. Jump into a big shape.)

JUST LIKE THAT!
(Clap and stamp on each word.)

(Sing the verse again!)

Here is a simple recording of the song to let you hear the melody and rhythm.

For a professional version of this song and other Halloween songs I’ve written, click here.

Special Days and Holidays

I’d love to see your children singing and dancing to this song. I’d love to see their cute jack-o-lanterns. Share this idea with your friends. Tell me how you’ve used this with your students.

 

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Reading and Dancing Holiday Songs

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It’s October and we’re busy singing and dancing to Halloween songs. My students love getting up and moving to a song! At this time of year, we’re marching like monsters, skipping like skeletons, waltzing like witches, and jumping like jack-o-lanterns. If you want to find more Halloween songs, you can find teaching notes for songs like “Marching Monsters” on earlier blogs on this site.

On this blog, however, I want to share a handout and flash cards made by my good friend Setsuko Toyama. Setsuko is a well-known teacher trainer and author in Japan. On her worksheet, students match the same initial sound of the words, an important skill in developing phonemic awareness. They also have fun playing with alliteration, words that begin with the same sound. Many American nursery rhymes feature alliteration.

Marching Monsters worksheet and flashcards

I like having my students do craft projects from time to time. While they’re busy creating their artwork, I play music to fit the holiday. Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays CD has several Halloween songs that children can easily sing along to for your Halloween parties.

Check out my Pinterest page for lots of Halloween craft activities.