10 Ways to Get Kids' Attention Back

If you teach today's kids, you know how quickly you can lose their attention.  It only takes a few seconds for them to zone you out.  This is partially due to the world they live in.  They have tons of information coming at them all day. As they try to decipher all the messages and information coming at them, they have learned how to quickly scan the information and either engage with it or move on to the next message.

And if you're like me, I'm sure you've had them zone out while you were teaching.  You know you've lost their attention when they start squirming or looking away or talking among themselves. 

So when you lose their attention, here are 10 quick ways you can get their attention back and re-engage them with what you are sharing.

Can You Hear Me Now? 

Pause from what you are teaching and say this in a normal voice level.

"If you can hear me now, clap once."

(Let the kids clap.)

Lower your voice and say it again. 

"If you can hear me now, clap 2 times."

(Let kids clap twice.)

Lower your voice to a whisper and say this. 

"If you can hear me now, clap 3 times."

(Let kids clap 3 times.)

By the end of the 3rd clap, you will have their attention back.

Clap or tap in a pattern. 

Clap in a pattern.  

Example - clap or tap slowly twice and then clap or tap fast 3 three times. 

Have the kids repeat the pattern. 

You can vary the pattern.  Keep doing this until all the kids are quiet and engaged.

Bell Ring

Ring a bell as a signal for students to re-engage. 

Lights On and Off

Teach the kids to stop, look at the teacher and listen when the lights are flicked off and on.   

Teacher Says

This is like "Simon Says." When you are getting them ready to re-engage say, "Teacher says, touch your ear" or "Teacher says clap once" or "Teacher says, look at me."  Last person standing wins.

Still and Silent 

Stop talking, get very still and be silent.  Gradually the kids will notice and get curious about why you are not talking. 

Call to Action.

Teach the kids the responses to these questions and have them repeat them when you ask the question.  

Who is listening? I am listening.

One, two, three, eyes on me. One, two, eyes on you.

Hocus pocus! Everybody focus.

Hands on top. That means stop.

Zip, zip, zap! Hands on your lap.

Macaroni Cheese. Everybody freeze! 

Alligator chomp. Chomp, chomp! 

Everybody rock. Everybody roll. 

Hi ho, hi ho.. It’s off to work we go.


Get the kids to count down slowly from 5 or 10. 

Play animal sounds.   

Play sounds of mooing cows, chirping birds, howling monkeys, elephant calls, pigs oinking, etc.  

Criss Cross Apple Sauce

Teach kids to sit down, cross their legs and get quiet when you say this phrase.

Your turn.  What are some attention grabbers that you use?  Share them with everyone in the comment section below.