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Have you ever tried to get a roomful of excited kiddos to quiet down quickly? It can feel like you are trying to herd a posse of wild cats. Just as soon as you think you’ve got it almost settled and ready to transition, one stray wanderer can set off the commotion again with a random comment, a silly gesture, or a funny question.
These simple tricks can help you settle a room quickly, and possibly have some fun while you’re at it! They will work for any group, classroom or not! Try them at Sunday School, on a play date, a birthday party, you name it!
- If You Can Hear Me: Say quietly, “If you can hear me, clap once.” Those closest to you will hear you and clap. Then say, “If you can hear me clap twice.” Kids that heard the one clap will be listening more closely and should hear this direction. This is usually enough to get attention so you can state your next direction, but you could continue on for as long as needed. You could even have a little fun with this one by changing up the directions! Get creative!
- Clapping Pattern: Think of a fun clapping pattern. Walk up to a few kids and say, “Repeat after me.” Clap the pattern. They will probably enjoy trying to copy it. This will gain more kids’ attention. Clap the pattern again, and more will join in until you have the attention of the room.
- Simon Says: Start a game of Simon Says. Don’t worry about having everyone’s attention at first. Just start. As kids start to play, the rest will join in. End with, “Simon says…listen for the next direction” and move on!
- Make it a Competition: Time how long it takes kids to quiet down. When they are quiet, announce their time. Tell them you think they can do better than that. The next time, time them again. You could even offer an incentive for reaching a goal time!
- Fun Phrase: Try calling out a phrase that has two parts. You call out the first part, and kids return with the second part. Even if you haven’t taught them this ahead of time, the following phrase should work:
- Eeny, Meeny (you say)…Miny, Moe (they say)
- Then continue with: Catch a tiger (you say)…by the toe (they say)
- More should be listening by this point: If he hollers (you say)…let him go (they say)
- Should have them all by now: Eeny, Meeny (you say)…Miny, Moe (they say)
Plus a few bonus ideas!
- Waterfall or Snowflake: Say “Waterfall” or “Snowflake” while raising your hands up, wiggling your fingers, and bringing your hands down. Make the quiet sign after by saying “shh…” (Thanks Barbara!)
- Mannequin: Say “Mannequin!” and freeze! The kids will do the same. Then, you have everyone’s attention and you can move on! (Thanks Barbara!)
Good luck! If you have more suggestions, I would love to hear them!