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Strategies To Get The Childrens' Attention


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I am mentoring a trainee teacher at the moment and she really lacks confidence. When she needs to get a groups a attention she only uses a little voice. I've said to her that there are other ways to get the childrens attention other then with her voice. For example, start clapping a pattern that the children will start to follow, sing a short familiar tune that would always sybolise coming together, play simon says! But I need more ideas. What do you do to get the childrens attention??

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Just found this on web:


Four ways to gain the attention of the class.



When you're within hearing range of a few children, say in a normal-level voice, "if you can hear me, clap once, " "if you can hear me, clap twice," etc... usually I have the whole class's attention by the 4th time or so... sometimes I'll throw in a wierd direction like "if you can hear me, touch your nose..." the kids enjoy it and it works pretty well.

I've also seen teachers who will do a clapping pattern and the kids copy... again, this gets them paying attention quickly... something with clapping seems to get kid's attention fast.

One of the teachers I student taught with had a little bell she'd ring to get their attention. Simple solution.

Another one I've seen is simply saying "1-2-3 Eyes on me." You have to be a little louder, but it usually works... or simply counting "1, 2, 3, etc" really slowly, but loud enough that they can hear you.

• flick the lights • clap a pattern • sing a song • rain stick • chimes/bells • Give me 5 signal (eyes on speaker, mouth closed, ears listening, hands still, feet still- kids hold up high 5 sign) • Stop, look and listen • I can see that (name) is ready because (s)he's looking at me.... • peace sign • whisper • The 'Eye'

Still interested in what you do......

Edited by Guest
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Sorry just my little joke.... :o


Are you talking about a nursery environment here? It kind of depends what she is getting their attention for. If you mean to tell them it's time to do something like story time one way is to tell a few children quietly and they do the rest!


If you are talking more of keeping their attention then I would suggest props. She could maybe talk through a puppet. Explain to the children that the puppet gets really sad when people ignore him/her and so it would be really kind of them to always listen. Actually this would work for getting their attention too...

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Just read your second post Oli.

I must say that line a million times... 'I can see that XYZ is ready...!'


Also thinking about Brownies, Guides etc. In Brownies if a leader says Twitwoo the Brownies all go over to them! In all sections if a leader raises their right arm it is a signal to stop talking and doing whatever you were doing, to raise your own arm and to listen. As a leader it is really interestin to see it go round the hall! Similar may work in a classroom.

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It is a nursery enviroment, well nursery and reception so children aged 3-5. Just before lunch and just after lunch we sit them all on the carpet at the same time for about 10mins to read a story or do some singing. Quite often the children will be chatting when they come to the carpet and so I will use a strategy to gain their attention, to bring them together before we start a story or singing.

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Got you. Yes that is when I'd be saying 'Well done Fred, you're sitting really nicely waiting for the story.'


One other possibility but a bit of bribery.... we choose children at register time to help with the weather, tell their news, count the children etc. Our 'policy' is only to choose children who aren't calling out and who are sitting nicely and this is reinforced most days... I'm going to ask Harry as he's been sitting quietly and not calling out...'


Perhaps you could have a helper who gets the book or holds props or even have a few special cushions or chairs that children get chosen to sit on.


If singing is first, the children who are sitting quietly could be asked what they would like to sing or to be part of the song - say teh frogs in the 5 speckled frogs.

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Just thought of another favourite (at home with my 2 year old more but....)


I'm still waiting for everybody to be looking this way/sitting on their bottom/ready to sing etc. Oh dear I don't think we're going to have time for this story after all....

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We use the hands in the air thing, I never knew it was from guides!


Also use music to get all to sit sown at end of session, group times etc.


Is it me or is this an aspect that's getting harder? I am quite old so could be I've slipped into a different generation without realising!


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Just thought I'd join in. I find it sometimes depends on the class/group that you have but I use a variety of things.

I use and works is saying 'show me empty hands' gets their attention straight away. I also do lots of other things like clapping, put your hands in the air, show me 2, 3,4 ,5 fingers etc, eyes on me and lots of things that have already been suggested. Puppets and music are great aswell!

Think it really depends on when you want to get their attention.

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LOL Barb. I think you are right but I think it is because children are used to having TV, radio etc etc on in the background and zoning out. They also zone out from their peers playing to concentrate on their own activity I guess. We are much more child led these days allowing them to GASP talk in class and everything!! I mean that there is a general hub bub rather than silent rows of kids with a teacher at the front... I'm not ancient (37) but a lot of my primary schooling was still in silence!

Also I think we as adults give children far more choice now and kids don't know where they are. We don't dictate which of the activities they go to one minute and then the next they HAVE to listen to a story. Confusing I think.

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Ros Bayley's rap often works for me when we need to 'gather' in the nursery, it goes


1 2 3 4

Come and sit down on the floor

5 6 7 8

Hurry up and don't be late!


1 2 3 4

Is your bottom on the floor?

5 6 7 8

Are you sitting very straight?


Some times have to repeat the first verse to give everyone time to respond :o , but it usually helps to get everyone together.



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Yes Pandamonium,

I think youre right about the visual/audio background buzz.

And we do encourage them to be independent rather than passive learners so I guess this means they won't all behave like little robots to suit us (shame though!!!)

Somewhere I remember seeing the length of time children can concentrate at a group activity. Its something like 1 -2 minutes for every year of their lives I think?


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We do something similar to gather everybody at say register.


Show me your hands (children stop what they are doing, stand where they are and hold their empty hands up in the air - mostly!)


Then we all say, while clapping hands


1, 2, 3, 4 put your bottoms on the floor


Everybody moves to the carpet


5, 6, 7, 8 (clapping)


Cross your legs and sit up straight




Also 'hands behind your back, hands on your head'



Or when waiting for everybody to wash their hands and then gather on the carpet


Clap your hands and wiggle your fingers (Bobby Shafto book)

Clap your hands and wiggle your fingers

Clap your hands and wiggle your fingers

Now we've made a pattern


Look forward to hearing what others to do, always useful to have a few more up your sleeve!



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When you have got the children are sitting down and you want to send them away we play the looking game. When I make eye contact with a child they can leave the carpet. First I tell them we are going to play the Looking Game and remind them they need to be looking at me so they will know when they can go. Their attention and listening has improved since we have been playing the game.

Sometimes I whisper their names - the Listening game.

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this rhyme came out of a book of action rhymes for 3-6 year olds


Show 5 fingers let me see

Show 4 fingers touch your knee

Show 3 fingers touch your nose

Show 2 fingers touch your toes

Show 1 finger let me see...

With this finger point to me!


Works very well with my reception class!!

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One day my preschool children were taking a while to settle on the mat before story....I don't know where it came from..but on the spur of the moment I stood up, covered my eyes with my hands and said...


I'll close my eyes and count to three

When I open them, I'd like to see,

legs crossed, arms folded, backs up straight...

are you ready, 1,2,3.


I then uncovered my eyes and lo and behold, all children sitting perfectly still, looking up at me with great big grins on their faces.. ( some even had their eyes shut :oxD ) I responded with a great big "WOW aren't you all sitting still".


I only use this one occasionally (as a last resort) so that the WOW factor works each time for the children.


I also do the

"open them, shut them" actions whispering or without any words.



Hand actions

"open them, shut them"

"open them, shut them"

Lay them on you lap

"open them, shut them"

"open them, shut them"

Give a little clap

roll them, roll them, roll them,

Roll them up like this

wave them, wave them, wave them,

blow a little kiss

creep them, creep them, creep them,

up to your little chin

open up your mouth and POP

your fingers in.


normally stops at "pop" because all the children want to learn how to do a "pop" sound.



10 little fingers, they all belong to me ( wave both hands in the air)

I can make them do things,

would you like to see.

I can shut them up tight ( close fists)

Open them wide ( open hands)

put them both together ( like praying)

make them both hide ( put behind your back)

I can hold them up high, (above head) - use a high squeeky voice

I can lay them down low ( place palms flat on floor) - use a low deep voice

I can fold them quietly in my arms just so ( fold arms - ready to listen)







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Guest alisonjayne

we do hands on head, hands on shoulders, fingers on ears ,fingers on lips by the time they have got to lips they have settled and are quiet. We find we only need to raise our voice for the first couple of words.

To get everyone onto the carpet we count down from 10 this works most of the time, but I do like the rap that has been posted might give it a go.


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to get attention on the caprept after play,lunch, tidying up etc i clpa rhythms that the chn have to copy. I then try to 'catch them out' but clapping the rhythm of the words Don't clap this one back and then instead of clapping they say don't clap this one back! I have got quite an able Year 1 and Reception class but even the very youngest children don't get caught out any more! It really focusses their listening!

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I use the rap 1,2,3,4 ... mentioned earlier in the thread. But before I actually use this to get the children to the carpet, I start singing "Everybody do this..." to get their attention. THe children know that when they hear the song they put everything down and stand still waiting for the next instruction.

I also use the winking game as above to get the children lining up, washing hands etc.


Hope this is useful

Mel C :D

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By accident I discovered that the children repond very well to just actions...


when i want a quiet moment i just start simple actions like hands on head, then moving them to knees, then to shoulders out straight etc, no sequence very random actions.not saying anything at all


slowly at first, the children just started copying my actions and as I was quiet they were too.


Very quickly all children were participating and we were able to either make it into a game by making them faster an faster until no one can keep up or slower and ending with hands in laps for a story or songs.


I have also seen them using this in their play.


This has worked for us for all age groups, and abilities and I know has been started in the local after school club.



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Love the rap!!


Another version of the rap


sit your bottoms on the floor


fold your arms and sit up straight!

children love it!!!

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