Attention-Getters In The Classroom

In my opinion, one of the most important management strategies in our classrooms is getting everyone's attention in a quick, efficient, and low-impact way. I try to change these up every year, since I am always learning about new and exciting strategies. Plus, I have found that the novelty each year makes it more effective for both me and my students.

For example, when I first came across Whole Brain Teaching, using the call and response of "Class? Yes!" was highly effective and completely new for all of us. Fast-forward five years and the kids have all used this before (for years and years) and I was ready to try a new strategy.

One of the other traps I am wary of falling into is the "shh"-ing routine. It is the default response to noise in our world, but I have found that it is not only ineffective, it can be downright aggravating when used too much. Have you noticed that? I find myself "shh"-ing from time to time and realize I am falling back into lazy habits and need to reinforce the strategies and routines I use for my classroom.

In case you're like me and like to switch things up, or if you're looking to add to your bag of tricks, I want to share some of my favorite ways to get your students' attention in class:

Singing Bowl

My dad traveled to Tibet years and years ago and brought a singing bowl back for me. My daughter loved playing with it when she was younger, and it occurred to me that I could start using it in my classroom. Based on their size, their tones are either higher or lower, but they all are soothing and non-alarming. Simply hit the side with the wooden mallet and as the note "sings", it will get softer and softer. We challenge each other to be completely quiet by the time the note is done. This one on Amazon is under $20. 

Rain Stick

This rain stick is another soothing, white-noise apparatus that is gentle, but easy to hear amongst the chatter in a classroom. My mentor teacher used this and it was one of the first things I purchased as a new teacher. It is simply the sound of beans moving down the inside of the stick, but it does the trick! I typically do three times, although you can set goals as a class for the number it will take to get everyone's attention. I picked mine up from Word Market, but that was about thirteen years ago, so I found this one on Amazon for under $20.

Wind Chimes

My teaching friend purchased a wind chime for me when we first started teaching together and I love having it in class. It is front and center in my classroom, so oftentimes simply moving my body towards it is enough to signal to my students to start wrapping up and paying attention. Plus, I love the calming chime. Just like the singing bowls, there are so many choices in tones and sounds. I loved this chakra-themed wind chime, but I have seen some really nice ones at Hobby Lobby and Home Depot, too.


We use Voice Levels in my classroom and each level, one through five, corresponds to a louder voice. Zero Voices is completely silent. I will call out "Give me five" and will count down from five to one. By the time I say zero, it needs to be Zero Voices. You can find more information on my Voice Levels HERE.

Door Bell

This doorbell is my newest strategy and I just love it! You may have seen these cuties being used before and I have been waiting to introduce this until I could play the holiday-themed music.... I am a complete sucker for holiday music! For under $20, you can bring this into your classroom and have the option of over 50 tunes to choose from. There are also four volume levels, which I love. The main receiver is one you can plug in and use, so I am able to bring this with me when I move to other classrooms. The light also illuminates, so there's a bit of a visual component. I look forward to having the students choose the tunes and will probably have the Morning Meeting Leader choose at the beginning of the week. That way, we have some consistency for an extended period, but the kids can feel invested in the strategy and keep it fresh throughout the rest of the year.

. . . 

One aspect that I want to mention is that all of these choices are easy enough that kids can take the initiative and use them on their own. Having a Noise Monitor as a classroom job is easy when any of these are an option. The monitor can use these tools when they feel the noise is above the level you have set. This is a great way to have the kids as leaders in your classroom. I have also found it encourages them much more than me being the one and only controller.... I fear I start to sound like Charlie Brown's teacher when it's only me all of the time! 

What are some that I am missing? This is just the tip of the iceberg, I know, but these have been the ones that have been the most fun for not only my students, but for me! They keep me from "shh"-ing, they keep the kids engaged, and they add some fun into our day.... what more could you ask for?

Happy teaching!


  1. These ideas are so creative and they are better than the traditional method of just "shhh"-ing the class!

  2. Stephanie, Thank you for sharing these great ideas! I'm going to order a doorbell NOW!