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The Struggle to Maintain Focus
Keeping the attention of a preschool or kindergarten class can be one of the most frustrating things about teaching. The slightest disruption can throw the entire lesson off-track and it can be very difficult to regain their focus. While it is important to have lessons that are entertaining and hold their attention, it is also very useful to have cues that will bring the attention back to the lesson instantly. If you have both, holding the students attention and completing the lesson objective will be much easier. Here is a suggestion for an entertaining vocabulary and sentence structure lesson, as well as some tips on how to bring the focus back to the lesson.
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Train Your Preschool or Kindergarten Students
When a class loses focus it can be very difficult to direct attention back to the lesson. It is important to have pre-determined cues that let the class know when it is time to get back to business. Asking them a question can be very effective. For example, show them what it means to be sitting nicely (hands on the desk, legs under the table, back straight) then ask them a few times in a row "Who's sitting nicely?" and give praise to the ones that are. Ask this a few times during each lesson and soon you will be able to drag them back from distraction simply by asking the question.
Another effective tool is the question/answer approach. If you work in a school with classroom names you could ask them "Where are you?" to which they reply the class name. Making both the question and answer, loud and rhythmic grabs their attention immediately. Additionally, adding a physical cue (for example, placing your hands on the desk) proves to be very effective.
It is important to be consistent with your cues because they tend to fade and lose their effect. A good way to do this is to start every lesson with the cue so they are focused and paying attention right from the beginning. This will ensure that it stays fresh in their memory and works every time.
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Vocabulary Tic-Tac-Toe Lesson
Tic-tac-toe, with a few additions, can be a great way to hold the attention of a class full of preschoolers or Kindergarteners.
First divide the class into two teams. Let them name the teams; they will be more invested in the game if it is "The Sharks" vs. "The Lions," instead of "Team A" vs. "Team B".
Next draw a giant tic-tac-toe grid on the white/chalkboard. If you do not have one at your disposal, the game can easily be played on the floor using tape.
Using words or pictures (depending on how advanced your students are) place nine vocabulary cards in each of the tic-tac-toe squares (for example, fire truck, dump truck, garbage truck, and so on- use thematic related words).
Have the students play "Paper, Rock, Scissors" to decide which team goes first. Let the first student throw a bean bag or a wadded up piece of paper at the tic-tac-toe grid. Ask the student a question about the vocabulary word in the square. Ex: Question: "What is this?" Answer: "It is a fire truck." You can also work on sentence structure, depending on the level of your students.
If the student answers correctly, place an X in the square and continue in the basic tic-tac-toe fashion.
This preschool lesson plan is a good way to increase classroom attention span, entertain the students, and complete a lesson on vocabulary.