September 11, 2002
Quieting a rambunctious group can be a challenge, but I've had success in several primary grades with these simple tricks. I teach the children to copycat movement patterns, saying 'do what I do' while moving my arms up and down, patting my head, touching my nose, etc. Initially I do one movement, and then switch movements about every 5 seconds. Later, I will do a pattern of movements. Children need to watch and tend to stop talking as they concentrate on imitating. I praise children for copying quietly. In addition to getting their attention, this gives them a simple movement break, and if I combine activities that cross and uncross the midline it helps their sensory systems and improves their thinking skills. Another trick, especially for a noisier group, is to clap patterns and have them imitate. I teach the game during group time first and then from anywhere in the room, I can clap a pattern, and children begin imitating. I continue the same or varied patterns until everyone is quiet and joins the game. This strategy practices sensory processing as well as auditory attention and memory. Moving in the hall can be hard, but I have achieved almost silence by having the children 'Put a Bubble in Their Mouth.' They puff up their cheeks and close their lips. If they talk, they have popped their bubble. (Just watch that they don't hold their breath!) When we arrive at our destination, we all get to pop our bubbles. I remind them that bubbles don't make noise when they pop. We practice with real bubbles before the first time.