Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

ATTENTION!!! Ten Techniques for capturing the attention of a chatty class!

Hello everyone,

I've been asked about tips for catching and maintaining the attention of your pupils, especially with a fizzy class, so I've put together a brief list of techniques I tend to use on regular basis with my little chatterboxes.

In the ideal world, we would cruise along from lesson to lesson without ever having to worry about someone who's not looking,  who's not listening, who's fiddling with the twistables or who's gone for a wander around the room! But that's not the reality my room anyway!

For lesson transitions, brain breaks and even to gather some focus mid-lessons, I love to use a variety of songs, rhymes, chants and calls to get everyone's attention.

Here are my top ten:

1. Shake Your Sillies Out
After break, or after a lively activities, we like to shake our sillies out. Children stand and we recite this rhyme while shaking your hands and arms.
"I'm gonna shake, shake, shake my sillies out,
I'm gonna shake, shake, shake my sillies out,
I'm gonna shake, shake, shake my sillies out,
And wiggle my waggles away!"

If you need to extend it, try 'Tap, Tap. Tap', 'Stamp, stamp, stamp', 'Clap, clap, clap' etc!!!

2. Finish Fiddling
For anyone who's fond of fiddling before you've finished explaining something, I like to recite this:
"If you touch before I say, you will find I take away." (If you're feeling musical, sing it to Rain, Rain, Go Away!)  Repeat as necessary!

3. Criss Cross
We sit on the mats a lot, for plenary before and during Aistear, for reading activities, for circle time etc. To get everyone's attention and to remind everyone of how we should be sitting, we sing:
"Are you criss cross, are you criss cross?
Eyes on me? Eyes on me?
Hands on your lap! Hands on your lap!
Quietly, quietly!"

Or, if there's a little straggler taking their time in joining the class on the mats, we sing:
"We are waiting, we are waiting,
For our friends, for our friends,
To join us, To join us,
On the mats, on the mats."

Both sung to "Frére Jacques"!

4. Call and response
I call a series of statements and the children call the responses. They're fun and lively and the children really enjoy them!

Teacher:                                              Students:
Ready to rock?                                   Ready to roll!
Macaroni and cheese?                        Everybody freeze!
Peanut butter?                                     Jelly time!
Hocus pocus?                                     Everybody focus!
123?                                                   Eyes on me!
To infinity?                                        And beyond!

These suit my current infants but there's plenty more of these to be found online!

5. Hands on top.
If I'm looking for an immediate standstill, I call "Hands on top", to which the children respond, "Everybody stop". I have a few visual cues for this around the room too. 

(image source:

6. Leave it to the Rainmaker

For my first teaching practice placement, (dare I say it, this time eleven years ago!!!) I purchased a rainmaker, in the most random little shop in Derry. I've had it ever since and I've used it every year, no matter what the age group!

(You don't have to buy one, a pringle box and some peas works too!)
Because it makes quite a gentle sound, the children have to listen carefully to hear it (though waving it in the air sometimes just has to be done - guilty!!). It works a treat for signalling the end of an activity or for calling the children to the line, to the mats or to a particular station without ever using your voice!

7. Have a sing-song.
There's nothing like a little routine song for signalling the end of an activity. My infants love this song. Once you model it a few times, they are quite capable singing it aloud themselves if you give them the cue!

"Twinkle, twinkle little star
Time to clean up where you are
Put your work back in its place
With a smile upon your face
Twinkle, twinkle little star
Time to clean up where you are"

8. Freeze frames

This is an easy one, simply shout, 'Ice Pops' or 'Ice Cream' and your little ones have to literally 'freeze'!

9. Salami 

The first time I tried this was a few years back and I'll never forget the look my SNA gave me, I think she may have thought I'd actually finally lost my marbles.
For immediate attention, call "SALAMI" .... it stands for, Stop And Look At Me Immediately!
You'll risk sounding bonkers, but it works!

10. Pirate Call

There's two of these I like. The first being when teacher calls: "Ahoy Ahoy me hearties" and the children respond "Aye aye Captain". 
Or secondly, the teacher calls, "Pirates say?", to which the children reply with "Arrrrrrr!"
Fun but effective!

Hopefully these are helpful to those of you who were looking for ideas! It's nice having a variety, even for your own sanity!

If you have any other ideas or suggestions to have, be sure to share them!

Over & out,



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