Attention Signal Ideas!

We all know how important it is to have an attention signal--or a variety of attention signals--in the classroom. Check out these attention signal ideas that teachers shared on the Minds in Bloom Facebook page!

A while back I asked my Facebook followers to share their favorite attention signals. They were, of course, awesome and shared a bunch of them. There are so many really great ideas that I decided to post them here for more teachers to see. I hope you find something you can use with your students!

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I like ‘eyes up’ and the students repeat it back to you! -Kristin Spade

When I say, ‘Class, class,’ the kids respond, ‘Yes, yes?’ However I say it, they have to say it back the same way. High-pitched, sing-song, zombie voice, in a rap, whatever. I mix it up every day to keep it interesting! (from Whole Brain Teaching) -Dallas Anne Thomspon

I use aboriginal clapping sticks and play a rhythm that they have to repeat. -Kristie Griffiths

‎’3-2-1′ or I use a timer -Danielle Miller

Whole Brain Teaching has some great strategies. Google ‘Class Yes’ for some ideas I use often via WBT. -Karen Keaton

I clap a pattern, and the students repeat the clap back to me. -Wolfelicious

I say ‘Freeze, please!’ and everyone has to put their hand up, be silent, and give our quiet signal (school abbreviation “AACL” in sign language). –Teresa Brown

I got this idea after reading the Chugga Chugga Choo Choo book: I say, ‘Chugga chugga,’ and the class says, ‘Choo choo.’ Then I say, ‘Whistle blowing,’ and they say, ‘Whoo-whoo.’ -Erika Hansing Gentry

I have a word for the day or week. When they hear it they know to give attention to me. The word matches a holiday or something w are learning (i.e. groundhog, butterfly). -Bethany Thornton

I have heard a teacher say, ‘Apple,’ and the kids freeze and say, ‘Sauce.’ I have also used, ‘1, 2, 3…eyes on me!’ The kids would respond with, ‘1, 2…eyes on you!’ -Rachael N. Duke

One that works at my school is saying, ‘Match me’ while patting your head, then ‘Match me’ while tapping your ears, then ‘Match me’ while placing a finger over your lips in silence. Our P.E. teacher uses it all the time, and the kids love it. -Bessie Dietrich Goggins

I say, ‘Hands on top,’ and students put their hands on their head and say, ‘That means stop.’ Or I say, ‘Peanut butter,’ and they say, ‘Jelly,’ and then we all clap our hands together and say, ‘Sandwich.’ -Amy Angle-Greiner

I use lots of different ones. Clapping patterns that they have to repeat back to me; the whole brain ‘Class Yes’ response that has already been mentioned. I use pairs of things that go together: I say, ‘Peanut butter;’ they say, ‘Jam.’  I say, ‘1,2,3 – eyes on me,’ and they reply, ‘1,2 – eyes on you!’ I say, ‘Look like a scholar,’ and they clap their hands twice, fold them on their desk, sit still, and look at me. I ask them to show me the fab five, and they stop talking, sit still, cross their hands, look at me, and listen. We have talked about what good listening looks like and sounds like, so I will ask them to show me now what good listening looks like and sounds like. -Karen Dunning

I say, ‘Hey! Hey! Listen up! Listen up!’ and the students who hear me repeat the chant. If the students didn’t hear me say it, then they usually hear the other students say it. I then say it again, and the students repeat again. The class knows that this means to freeze and listen. It works very well. I’ve used it during assemblies, and it gets the attention of all the students…mine or not. -Jodi Ruiz

I count down ‘5-4-3-2-1’ while holding up my hand and counting down with my fingers. I start loud on 5 and lower my voice as students start listening. I can vary the speed based on how quickly I need their attention. -Caitlin Varley

Teacher: ‘Macaroni and cheese!’ / Students: ‘Everybody freeze!’
Teacher: ‘Chicka chicka!’ / Students: ‘Boom boom!’
Teacher: ‘Red Robinnnn!’ / Students: ‘Yummmm.’
Teacher: ‘Ba da ba ba ba!’ / Students: ‘I’m lovin it.’
Teacher: ‘Ready to rock!’ / Students: ‘Ready to roll!’
Just to name a few. I make sure and set clear expectations that they have to freeze and put their eyes on me for further directions. The kids love it and it works like a charm! -Meghan Kroupa

Many of these above plus: ringing a bell and they freeze; a sing-song echo, ‘Stop, look and listen!’ and they repeat; doing actions while saying, ‘If you’re listening to me, touch your nose’ (ear, etc.); action combinations (e.g. touch one hand). -Melissa Lord

I use a lot of the ones above, mostly the whole brain teaching ‘Class, class / yes, yes.’ But my students’ favorite is probably when I say, ‘Tootsie Roll, Lollipop,’ and they say, ‘We’ve been talking; now let’s stop.’ It took a little practice, but my fourth graders love it! -Meghan Rackley

I scream, ‘QUIET! YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY!’ …Only kidding. One more idea: At school assemblies, our principal shouts out, ‘BELUGA!’ The students clap their hands and arc them out (like a whale’s water spout) while saying, ‘Pssshhhh!’ -Erika Hansing Gentry

One that’s funny for a one time use is, ‘All the smart people look at me.’ 🙂 An adult did that once at a presentation, ‘All the good looking people look at me.’ -Susan Graham

Attention Signals

Got more to add? Please tell us with a comment!

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72 Creative Ways to show what students know

25 thoughts on “Attention Signal Ideas!”

  1. Teacher: Holy Moly
    Students: Guacemole!

    T: Goodness Gracious…
    S: Great Balls 'afire!

    T: ABC
    S: Easy as 123

    T: If you can here my voice clap once.
    S: They clap
    By the time a get to 3, I have everyone's attention…tip…I whipser when I talk.

    T:Oak Grove
    S: Eagles
    Change it to your school and mascot.

  2. I say" S-T" and the kids say "O-P STOP". They put one hand up for O and the second hand up for P and eyes on the teacher when they say STOP.

  3. Aubsent From Texas

    I quietly give a direction like, "If you can hear my voice touch your ears" Then I give as many as needed until all voices are off and everyone is following along with eyes on me. ex) pat your arms, rub your fingers, tweak your nose

    I also say (in an authoritative voice) "count down to voices off" The kids chime in with "3 (in a normal voice), 2 (in a whisper), 1 (mouthed, no voice), shhhh (fingers on lips)"

  4. I'm a substitute so have to use something quick and easy. I've had the most success with "Eyes up, Mouth closed!"

    When lining up I will frequently say, "Show me what a straight line looks like. Show me what a quiet line sounds like."

  5. Jasmine H. from Chicago:

    My kids' (3rd graders) favorite attention-getter by far is when I say, "Pick a pose and pause!"

    I pretend that I'm holding a remote when I say it, and they pretend to be whatever character they want on TV. There are only 2 rules: they must keep two feet on the ground (and be in their seat if they were originally sitting), and their eyes have to be on me while they're "paused." It's great because they respond QUICKLY to get to their paused position (which is awesome for actually hearing intercom announcements, or redirecting behavior). Also, shy kids can participate without really participating, and outgoing kids can be Frankenstein to their heart's content!

    Another one I say is "Word to the wise, let's see bubbles and eyes." Kids have to puff their cheeks (like they're protecting a bubble in their mouth) and leave the bubble there until my eyes have met theirs. Only then can they drop the bubble, but their eyes must stay on me. It works because they like making faces while they do it, and because if they're protecting said bubble, it's impossible to talk!

    The last one of my top three is one that I usually let the kids use to get each other's attention while responding to a question or speaking. In a sing-song voice I say, "Brenda, is everyone traaaaaaacking youuuu?" Brenda replies, (including some simple motion for all 3 syllables of her response, like tapping her nose 3 times, or snapping her fingers 3 times) "Tracking WHO?" and the class responds to Brenda (with the same 3 motions), "Tracking you!" They love feeling like an adult by getting everyone's attention, they get to pick their own motion or use the default 3 claps, and they get to change their voice/tone any way they like for the class to repeat.

    I know, I know, technically they should be saying "Tracking WHOM?" and not who, but if nothing else, we can publicly correct our phrase as a whole group when we cover that component of grammar as an authentic connection. 🙂

    Adding these three attention-getters have completely changed the dynamic of my classroom for the better!!

  6. I say, "Alright, stop!" They say "Colaborate and listen." They love it…I get a nice little ''90s flashback.

  7. Sing RESPECT (like Aretha)
    The kids respond, Find out what it means to me!
    They fall silent at the end of their response.

  8. Teacher: I love
    Students:Rock and Roll

    Teacher: My the force
    Student: be with you

    Teacher: What day is it?
    Students: hump day

    Teacher: class Red Robbbiinnn
    Students: Yum

    Teacher: Live long
    Students: and prosper

    Teacher: Class, Class, Class
    Students: Yes, Yes, Yes

    These are the one I used last year. I plan on adding lots of others to change it up this year.

  9. Amanda Xhilone

    I have found with younger students singing directions really gets their attention. I make it up as I go and the melody changes, but it entertains them and they stop and listen to what I say.

  10. One that our Principal uses during assemblies is he say "Who you gonna call?" and the student reply with "Ghostbusters!" then sit quietly.
    Another one he will do is 'he says "legs" they say "crossed" he says "hands" they say "folded" he says " eyes" they say "looking" he says "ears" they say "listening"

  11. At my school to get the Littles attention, we usually have them sit on the carpet and put bubbles in their mouth and then when their ready we (teachers) say, "To infinity" and the Littles respond with "And Beyond". Then after they line up to go outside or they go was their hands to play with table toys or play-doh.

  12. Thanks for the great ideas! I’m going to share the attebtion signal that most teachers in our school uses:
    Teacher: 1, 2!
    Students: Sit up straight!
    T: 3, 4!
    S: Hands on your lap!
    T: 5, 6!
    S: Look at teacher!
    T: 7, 8!
    S: Smile at teacher!
    T: 9, 10!
    S: Say, “I’m ready”, I’m ready!

  13. I’ve never seen someone else say, “Eyes Up!” Like the person above 😉 I do “Eyes Up!” and they say, “Voice Off!” 🙂

  14. One that I started using is “The floor and talking is lava in 3, 2, 1, 0” by the time I get to 0 all students are sitting on their desk, focused on me, and not talking. I like to use this before Number Talks because I have them sit on their desks for it. They love it!

  15. Pingback: Managing Classroom Crunch Time /

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