Posts Tagged ‘Guided movement to help kids focus’

A Show of Hands

March 11, 2013

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

In my corner of the world Daylight Savings Time has just begun, marking the near start of spring. I love the resulting longer hours of sun in the afternoon – more time to spend outdoors digging in dirt to plant flowers.

Kids and adults alike “dig” digging in every season, don’t you think? In the spring, we dig to plant vegetables as well as flowers; in the summer heat, there’s digging in sand; in the fall gardeners dig to plant bulbs for the next spring; winter snow makes for digging out, at least for many.

Digging with my hands yesterday got me thinking about the awesome tools that our hands are – all of our hands – adults and children in every nation.

Digging plants seeds and builds foundations, and those thoughts of hands at work made me remember a visit last fall with a special group of first graders.

Their HAND-i-work offers a cool attentionology trick that you can use too…

A Tree of Seasons Bulletin Board is a "show of hands!"

A Trees of Seasons Bulletin Board is a “show of hands!”


Look at the row of beautiful trees in my blog pic here and you’ll see a show of hands.

This is easy-to-make art work, perfect for students in early grades.

  • Start the activity by inviting your class to raise their hands high with their fingers spread wide apart.
  • Ask them to note how their hands look like the branches of a tree.
  • Pass out large sheets of construction paper and instruct the kids to place one hand towards the top of the sheet and trace around their hand with a crayon or marker. NOTE: The teacher whose bulletin board is shown above had the kids dip their hands in poster paint and print the treetops – another option for you.
  • Pass out brown paper and have students cut long tree trunks to glue below the handmade branches.
  • Invite kids to choose which season they want their trees to be in and give them art supplies that they can cut and glue to the branches to suit their chosen seasons.
  • Post the finished Trees of Seasons on a bulletin board with a header.
  • Optional: Use the “visual feast” as a prompt for a writing activity related to trees and/or seasons.


"Our hands are amazing tools! Let's make them dig."

“Our hands are amazing tools! Let’s make them dig.”

Look at the teacher in my blog pic here.

She’s engaging the class in an attention-getting  HANDS-on activity that helps kids explore the amazing tools that hands are.

The teacher and students are acting out the process of digging.

This activity is leading into a discussion about the many ways we use our hands.

Think of it! The curriculum connections between hands at work and subjects in elementary education are endless and wonderful.

"Let's sort through these books to find something special for each of you."

“Let’s sort through these books to find something special for each of you.”


Are there any hands busier than those of a teacher?

Look at the teacher in my blog pic here, helping her students find books in the school library.

Have you and your students ever talked about the power of hands?

Throughout history, strong hands have created communities, cared for people, animals and the land itself, carved spectacular works of art, crafted communication devices…the list goes on and on.

Teachers and parents know, too, that one of the best things that hands can do with arms extended is give hugs. No doubt about it…hugging always catches and keeps 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


Wow Students with Simulated Sounds of Nature!

December 19, 2011

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

I wasn’t sure if my class would “buy in” to simulating the awesome sound of waves rising in the ocean and crashing on the beach – a quick activity I recently tried out to catch students’ attention before introducing a new writing assignment.

(As you know, my blog promises readers “classroom-tested” attention-ology tools and tricks. So, I knew that I had to try out my ocean simulation before sharing it with you.)

It was a WOW moment for me to see twenty-five fourth graders transfixed by my ocean simulation! I began with an invitation to visit the beach through our imaginations. 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.

Look at my blog pics below and you’ll see that every student followed my lead,

Arms stretched high simulate ocean waves rising.

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 it works for you.

“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.

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

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

Talk with you next week,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet