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7 Fun Attention-Grabbing Tips for Your Classroom

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 4 min read

How do you quickly get the attention of your class, without yelling over the top of them?

We’ve all had those days… it’s a full moon plus it’s a windy day (teachers out there will get what I’m saying) and your previous strategies for gaining the attention of your class just don’t seem to be working. You find yourself getting more and more frustrated, your students seem to be getting louder and louder. And, before you know it, the end of the day is near and you feel as though you have achieved nothing all day – apart from trying to get your students to listen!

By having a variety of attention-getting strategies up your sleeve, you’ll be able to draw upon these to ensure the smooth running of your classroom. Be careful not to get stuck using the same strategy though! I found that if I used the same attention grabber too much, it became part of the background noise and my students stopped responding. For more information about effective transitions, read Emma’s blog – The Secret to Effective Classroom Transitions.

Here are seven of our favourite ways to gain the attention of your class in a fun way!


(1) Use a Timer

Use an interactive timer for the classroom. Decide how much time you are going to allow your students to work on a particular task. Then, display the interactive timer on the board and inform the students when the timer has finished, they must move onto the next task or sit quietly with their hands on their head.

Here’s an example of an activity timer we have available on the Teach Starter YouTube account. Simply start the video at a time that suits the task you are giving to your students!

If the timer finishes and there are some students not moving on to the next task – you could give them a little reminder.


(2) Call and Response

This is a very popular strategy to gain the attention of your students. The teacher calls out a statement, then the students need to respond. If this is a strategy you’d like to check out, have a look at our Attention-Grabbing Phrase Cards.

At the beginning of each week, display the phrase that will be the attention grabber for that week. Each week change the phrase so that the students have enough time to get used to one saying!

You could also vote each week on the one the class wants to use. My class used to love having the power to vote!

 

(3) Complete the Compound Word

This idea is best suited to the early years, but they love it! The idea is the students must complete the compound word. You may like to use our Compound Task Cards for the classroom to assist students!

Here are some examples:

  • Teacher says – star, students say – fish
  • Teacher says – pop, students say – corn
  • Teacher says  – cheese, students say – cake
  • Teacher says – apple, students say – sauce

Students in my class used to love having to come up with the other word in my compound word of the day!

Compound word task cards


(4) Musical Transitions

Using a musical instrument or music is another great way to gain the attention of your students. Whether it be a rainmaker, bell or chime that is lightly played until all the students are quiet! Again, I think it is important to mix this up a bit so that the students don’t become used to the sound.


(5) Mirror Movement

All you need is your hands for this one! I used to just stand at the front of the class and do different movements. For example, putting my hands on head, putting my finger on my nose, putting both hands in the air, putting hands on my shoulders, pulling my ears etc. I would continue this until the whole class was copying my actions.

This was one of my most effective ways to gain the attention of a very noisy class. Students would notice a friend doing the actions and would instantly stop and start copying as well.

With no noise from me, I was able to gain the attention of my class very quickly!


(6) Clap and Repeat

The good old clap and repeat. Some teachers love it, others don’t!

You can mix it up a bit if you like, you clap a pattern and the students need to repeat it. However, I would change the pattern every time. It’s a good last-minute one to have up your sleeve.


(7) Sing It

If you always wanted to be a rock star – here’s your chance to shine! Use lines from popular songs! Kids love coming up with their own, especially if it is a song they all know! Here are a couple of examples:

  • Stop… collaborate and listen.
  • Stop right now… thank you very much!
  • Hakuna…. matata!

I use to also simply sing – “stop, look and listen”. Kids would repeat! They knew this meant to stop what they were doing, look at me and listen!

Or there is “1,2,3 eyes on me” and your students would then sing back – “1,2, eyes on you!”

We would love to hear from you!
What works in your classroom? Let us know in the comment section of this blog.

25 Comments

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  • Last/ EALD Teacher
    ·

    Thank you for these great ideas. Much needed. Do you have different examples of clapping patterns. Jan

    • Tom (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Hi Jan, I always try to mix things up when using clap and repeat. I would just improvise a clap pattern to keep my students on their toes! We don't have examples of clapping patterns at this stage but feel free to request a resource at the following link. https://www.teachstarter.com/request-a-resource/

    • Last/ EALD Teacher
      ·

      My friend suggested clapping da da t da da and the students respond by clapping da da.

  • Emma
    ·

    One signal to attend that my kids are loving at the moment is: I say, “who you going to call?” They say “ghostbusters!” It’s my most effective signal to attend that Ive used

    • Paul (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Love it, Emma! Hopefully, there's nothing strange in your neighbourhood!

  • Vanessa Valois
    ·

    I can't seem to access the link or find the attention grabbing cards anymore? Can you please provide this resource again?

    • Paul (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Hi Vanessa, This resource is currently being updated. We apologise for the inconvenience. It will be back online very soon!

  • Erin Crocker
    ·

    Link doesn't work?

    • Paul (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Hi Erin, This resource is currently being updated. We apologise for the inconvenience. It will be back online very soon!

  • Trent Jackaman
    ·

    I like the look of the attention-grabbing cards, but the link doesn't work. Could you please provide a working link?

    • Paul (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Hi Trent, This resource is currently being updated. We apologise for the inconvenience. It will be back online very soon!

  • Holly (Teach Starter)
    ·

    Great idea Kate! Thanks for your comment.

  • Emily Morris
    ·

    Teacher: "Hands on Top" Students (put hands on heads): "That means stop!"

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      I used this one in my class too, Emily! Was always a winner. Thanks for your comment.

  • Kate
    ·

    I say, "Frozen sharks!" and the children need to quickly clap their hands together above their heads. I also use, "Wallaby ears" (with a different action) and other animal phrases. The children love it! Thanks for your ideas too.

  • David Westaway
    ·

    Many of our callbacks were inspired by our unit on Fairy Tales. 1) Run, run as fast as you can... You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man. 2) Fee fi fo fum (done in my best giant voice)... I smell the blood of an Englishman. 3) Little pig, little pig, let me come in... Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin,

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      What a fabulous idea David! Thanks for sharing.

  • Maria Dso
    ·

    I start saying "if you can hear me, clap once", and some of them clap once, "if you can hear me, clap twice", and they clap twice... "if you can hear me, put your hands in the air" and they put their hands in the air.

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Great idea Maria!

  • Tarryn McDowall
    ·

    i like the this "clap once if you hear me" then pause "clap twice if you can hear me" pause looking around to see if students have caught on. then "clap three times if you can hear me" by this stage majority have stopped and are waiting

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Thanks for this idea Tarryn!

  • **********************
    ·

    That's a great one, Tania! I can imagine the kids absolutely love it. Thank you for your comment! Kind regards, Cassie (Teach Starter)

  • Tania Faulkner-McKenzie
    ·

    There is a male teacher in the class next to my office - through the wall I hear him sing 'Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?' and the class reply enthusiastically, 'Spongebob Squarepants!' - an effective and fun way to grab children's attention!

  • Valerie Sheets
    ·

    Sometimes I use one,two,three eyes on me.They immediately respond with one,two eyes on you . its like a military cadence..Most of the time it works and grabs their attention!

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      I used this technique as well Valerie! Such a simple way to get the attention of your students! Thanks for your comment. Kind regards, Holly

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