Attention Signals

Routine Name



Give Me Five

  • Teach what Give Me Five means and make sure students know to stop whatever they are doing when you say in a strong voice, "Give Me Five!" and raise their hand, giving you five.
  • To keep it simple, I just tell the kids that Give me five means raise your hand, stop talking, and listen. Some people add more like mouth closed, hands at side, but I just keep it simple and this one really works to get kids' attention. Of course, you have to model it and practice, practice, practice at the beginning of the school year. ( Catherine Trinkle)
Purchase a Zazzle poster or make your own!

Lights Off

  • Turning the lights off, immediately gets kids attention, and you are not competing with their voices. If that's not convenient, I have found a maraca, old fashioned school bell, or small wind chime also effective. I agree with Catherine (above), whatever you choose, it is the practice of the routine that makes it effective. (Nancy Alibrandi)
More ideas from Teacher Created Tips

Magic Signal

  • Raise one hand with two fingers pointing straight up, together. Maybe zip your lips with your other hand. Personally I'm a fan of Wong's "Give Me Five" and had used it for years, but I found that the kindergarten teachers at my new school use this "Magic Signal" to get kids quiet. It works like a charm, in the library, in the hall, etc. Find out if there's a common signal used in the classrooms at your school. (Regina Hartley)

Rain Stick

  • I received a rain stick several years ago and keep it in the library. It's made from a cactus branch with beans or pebbles inside, but it sounds like rain when you turn it up and down. Mine has colorful weaving around it. The kids find it so unusual, they hush up. Rainstick, Wikipedia (Regina Hartley)
Rainstick, Wikipedia
Rainstick, Wikipedia

Attention Signals

When you hear the bell:

  • FREEZE- Immediately STOP what you are doing
  • Eyes on the teacher
  • Voices are silent
  • Hands are free
  • Ears are listening for instruction

When you see Ms. K’s hand in the air:
    1. FREEZE
    2. Turn and face me; pay attention and keep your eyes on me
    3. Voices are silent
    4. Raise one hand in the air
    5. Be ready for instructions.

When you hear, “COLLEGE!”
  • You say, “CLARO!”
  • Eyes on the teacher
  • Voices are silent
  • Hands are free
  • Ears are listening for instruction

When you hear, "CLASS"
  • You say, "YES!"
  • Freeze
  • Eyes on the teacher
  • Voices are silent
  • Hands are free
  • Ears are listening for instruction

(This one is a part of Chris Biffle's Power Teaching classroom management strategy. His website is full of free downloadable resources, video examples, & posters. Check it out!)
(Keisa Williams)
Your hand (comes in handy)
Your voice
Chris Biffle's Whole Brain Teaching website.

Using Music

I tend to use "musical" attention getters. I do have a nice set of chimes I use, especially if kids are in among the shelves doing an activity or getting books. It's a distinctive sound that can be heard around the library. I tell the students thay have X number of minutes and I will ring the chimes to bring them back together.
Another thing I use is the old theme from the 60's TV show "The Addams Family."." (Am I dating myself?!) I sing the opening notes "Da-da-da-dum" and then the kids snap their fingers twice and give me attention. I also use the Manfred Mann's hit song "Do-Wah-Diddy." I sing, "There she was just a walkin' down the street..." and the kids sing back, "Singing doo-wah-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-do." It's fun and effective because it usually gives the kids a break from the ones their teachers use over and over. (Shelley Lazarus)

Singing Signals

A variety of call and response or songs used as attention signals. (Keisa Williams)
Singing Signals

Door Bell

I use a signal to let students know it is almost time to go & a signal that tells them to walk and line up. The signal is a door bell. It came with two different tones and I teach them the first tone means check out NOW because time is almost up and the second tone means line walk to line up at the exit door. IT has made such a difference with getting students checked out and lined up in a timely fashion without having to YELL across the library (Lea West).

"Me Too"!

Because students often want to shout out "Me too!" when I'm reading a book (I have a dog too! I've read this book too! My tooth fell out too!), I taught the students the "Me too!" sign in sign language. (Example here: and of course, the sign only works when your lips are MMM! ; ) I use this with my Ks and first graders. They love to do it while I'm reading and I love it because I can acknowledge them without too much of an interruption! (Amy Blaine)

If you can hear my voice...

Particularly useful with large group assemblies! No need to shout, the listening spreads. Say "if you can hear my voice, clap once." (CLAP) "If you can hear my voice, clap twice." X X "If you can hear my voice, clap three times." After the clapping, launch right in to what you need to tell them. Quick and effective.
(Marcia Dressel)

Since my library space has places where the kids go where I can't see them, when I need to transition them, or just announce something, I ring a chime and they all must walk to where they can see me, and stop and listen. (Laura Kleinmann)

1, 2, 3, EYES ON ME
Teacher calls out 1 ,2 ,3 eyes on me and students respond 1, 2 eyes on you.