Auditory Attention Getters for Classroom Management

attention getters for classroom management Stocking a fun collection of attention getters is an important component to an effective classroom management system. In my previous post I shared some strategies for effectively getting student attention. (And it wasn’t saying “Shhhh!”)

One of the strategies I suggested involved using a variety of “sound effects.” A few people asked me for specific suggestions, so here is a list of my favorites!

auditory attention grabber


Zen Chime– This chime is available as a single chime, double chime, or triple chime. They all have a beautiful sound that carries throughout a room.

attention getter

Thunder tube– This is the coolest thing! When you shake it gently, you hear thunder! (And it’s got a big sound.) You can also make other fun sound effects like creaking, sawing, scratching, etc. It’s a great instrument to have for other uses such as special effects during Reader’s Theater. 

auditory attention getter

Triangle – A triangle is an inexpensive instrument that has a powerful sound. When I taught preschool, the triangle was our school-wide signal for attention. We kept one in each room (hanging on the wall) and all the children knew that when the triangle was sounded by a teacher, that meant “Hands on knees and freeze!”

auditory signal for classroom management

Tambourine – I mentioned in my last post that I use my tambourine in conjunction with many of my drama-based lessons. The children associate this instrument with Drama and that lends it a certain special quality. The nice thing about a tambourine is that it has a strong sound (can be heard over noise) and can also be played different ways – shaking, striking, etc.

attention grabber in classroom

Lollipop Drum – Oh, how I love this little drum! It’s basically just a cute version of a hand drum, but something about the lollipop look makes it a kid favorite. I depend heavily on my drum during movement-based activities. (To learn how I manage movement in my classroom, check out the movement guide in my TPT store.) By the way, if you order a lollipop drum, be careful about the size. They sell some as small as 6 inches in diameter- not a big enough sound for a classroom. I like the 10″.

auditory signal for getting student attention

Puppy Slide Whistle– A slide whistle is great fun because the pitch changes as you slide it in and out. This one is super fun because it looks like a dog! I love to use these to cue the start and stop of talk time (group talk, turn and talk, etc.) If you want one that is a little more “instrument-like” check out this Slide Whistle.

classroom management tool

Duck Call – Do your students like “Duck Dynasty?” If so, they will love this sound! Keep a duck call nearby and use it when you need students to get quiet and listen. It’s one of those “sometimes” sounds that catches them off guard and gets their attention.

auditory attention getter

Tick Tock Block – This is the coolest little percussion instrument! When you strike one side and then the other with the mallet, it sounds like a clock saying “Tick, tock, tick, tock.” It’s a great sound effect to have for storytelling and Reader’s Theater, but is also a good one for signaling attention. Start hitting it and counting down… “Tick/ tock 5, tick/tock 4, tick/tock 3... etc.) You can count down until students need to be seated quietly, packed up, finished with work or a conversation, etc. The possibilities are endless.

toys for classroom management

Toys! If you really want to have fun, use toys! For example, Chi-Chi Chihuahua is a yippy toy dog that barks and walks. He has an on/off switch on the bottom. Toys like Chi Chi are fun to turn on and set down on the rug when it’s time for children to gather there quietly. You can put rules in place such as where they should sit when Chi Chi is out or whether or not they can “pet” him. After 30 seconds of having a toy dog on the carpet, your whole class will be seated there quietly without you saying a word! (Kind of like another take on the class mascot idea.)

Fun way to get student attention

Jack in the Box – Here is another fun toy that gets student attention. With the box closed, start moving around the room and playing the music slowly. Students will notice and take the cue to do whatever you have taught. (Get quiet, sit down, etc.) When the jack in the box pops out, time is up!

IMPORTANT TIPS: For these sound devices to work well with your students, you must teach them your expected response. What are they supposed to do when they hear a sound? Do you want them to stop and freeze where they are? Do you want them to call a response of some kind? Do you want them to sit down in a certain place or put their hands in their laps?  Do you want them to get quiet? These things must be explained and practiced. If you want to use multiple signals (as I do) make sure to introduce them gradually. Don’t add another signal until they have mastered the first.

If your sound signals simple fall under the category of “sound of the day,” then it’s appropriate for students to have the same response each time. However, if you are like me, you might have a variety of responses:

Sound: Duck Call :: Student Response: (Students make a “duck tail behind their back with their hands and say “Quack! Quack! Quack!” then look at “Mama Duck” (the teacher) for directions. A silent response option is to have the children make pretend “binoculars” with their hands and look through them to the teachers (as if they are bird watching.)

Sound: Triangle ::  Student Response: Students put hands on knees and freeze! (Looking at teacher.)

Sound: Zen Chime :: Student Response: 1st chime is a signal to wrap up conversation. Second chime (2 strikes of the chime) means it’s time to stop talking and look at the teacher.

Sound: Barking toy dog :: Student Response: Silently come sit around the border of the rug with your hands in your lap and watch the dog for a minute before the teacher begins.

Sound: Jack in the Box :: Student Response: When they hear the music, sit in their chair quietly and watch the box, raising their hands up in the air. When the “Jack” pops out, students jump up and sit back down quickly and quietly, putting hands down in their laps.

Think it over: when do you have trouble getting your students’ attention? Choose a sound device especially for that situation and then teach the expected response. It takes practice but the kids can do it!

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