Apr 29, 2013

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6 Ways to Get Your Student’s Attention Without Talking

Classroom management isn’t simply a set of rules and consequences. It’s an ongoing process that is woven into every single part of your day. When all of the pieces of the puzzle come together, the classroom will run like a well oiled machine. In AOE’s Managing the Art Room class you will create specific structures and routines to help you manage your biggest issues in the classroom. For example, one of my favorite ideas (that I highly recommend) is using non-verbal prompts to get student’s attention quickly.

Get your student’s attention without saying a word by making one of these 6 ideas a part of your art room routine. Even better? Rotate a few of them in and out so student’s don’t become immune to one of the sounds. You can even choose one sound to always be the signal for clean up, and another for listening to directions, etc.

Student's Attention


1. Desk Bell: I recommend one tap for ‘eyes up here’ and three chimes for ‘it’s time to clean up.’ I couldn’t live without one of these in my classroom!

2. Sound Block: Use a special rhythm pattern to signal to students it’s time to be quiet.

3. Triangle: A non- abrasive way to add gentle noise to your classroom setting.

4. Wind Chime: Students will be mesmerized by the long lasting sound, which is nice when it takes extra time to get everyone settled down.

5. Music Wands: Tap this on the table or desk and a beautiful chime sound comes out. It’s like magic. Come back tomorrow for a complete review as I demonstrate this product in action!

6.Wooden Crow Sounder: Enlist a well behaved student to manage this device. Fun for them and effective for your classroom management!


What are some other non verbal cues you use in the art room? 

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  • D Hoffman

    I used a tip from a fellow grad student. Large metal coffee can and 3 large bolts. If the noise level is high, drop in a bolt and students get 2 minutes of quiet. 2nd time and 2nd bolt = 10 minutes of quiet. 3rd time = silent classroom. The bolts make a sound they can hear even at the back of the room.

  • cait

    I have a Buddhist singing bowl… my students love it!

    • Jessica Balsley

      I just watched the video – So cool. I have never seen one of these. Thank you for suggesting it to everyone here on AOE!

    • Carmela Marciante

      I have one but can’t make it sing by going round and round with the wooden mallet. So I resort to just tapping the side of the bowl, but I really wish I could make it sing by going round n round the edges.

  • Vivian

    I use a clap rhythm, to get student attention, but these are good tools and reminders, as changing it up right now, would be good.

    • Jessica Balsley

      Yes, right now is when we need to pull out all the stops! There is still a long way to go in the school year and kids think it’s almost summer.

  • Rachel Miller

    I clap beats for kids to repeat or I will play a simon says game. I would love to try the magic wand because I love nonverbal attention getters!

  • Nylah

    I resort to turning off the lights to get attention….the unusual darkness encourages kids to instantly hush and pay attention!

  • Kimberly Butts

    I have a “Shh” sign complete with a wooden ruler stick. I decorated it with bright colors and a fun border so that it would convey a pleasant “tone”.

    I also will stop talking completely, and write my message on the board. Then, just point to the message (Vanna style sometimes) and watch the class. The kids do the rest. Of course, this works best for those who can read more independently. Perhaps pictures would work well for the younger kids.

  • Kimberly Butts

    Holding up an impressive project sample works well for me too. I will say, it should relate to what you will be doing with the class because once they see it they will want to make it.

  • RWS

    Our school is big on a particular clapping response but it’s impossible for the kids to repeat if they have art supplies in their hands and therefore not very effective for me. My asst. principal suggested that I try a “choral response” at my post-observation meeting, and it was a great idea. I just started singing “Fi-irst, Gra-ade” and they repeat it in the same key “Fi-irst, Gra-ade”. Because it’s simple and not something they hear all day, it’s really done the trick!

    Another school I sub at says “Focus Up” in a singing voice, which the kids repeat and this works well too.

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  • ELG

    I set a kitchen timer five minutes before class is over, when it goes off the kids know its time to STOP and start to CLEAN. If they don’t they have to sit quietly with folded hands for the beginning of the next class, they HATE that!