One classroom management tool effective for gaining attention, that I used for many years in school settings, is to clap a short rhythm sequence and have the children clap the pattern back to you. The children have to be listening and paying attention in order to succeed in clapping back the same sequence. It can be a fun game to play with preschoolers too. To make it easier for young children, try accompanying the clapping sequence with a few words or simple sentence, like clapping and saying the syllables in the child’s name. It really is a good way to switch on listening ears!
Another fun clapping (and listening) game for preschoolers is Hot/Cold. To play, hide an object in the room and as the chosen child tries to find it, you (and any other children playing) clap faster as they get closer to the hiding spot (hotter) and slower as they move away from it (colder), until the treasure is uncovered.
Finally, try introducing good old fashioned school yard clapping games. I have so many fond memories of clapping out ‘Miss Mary Mack’ and ‘When Suzy had a Baby’ with siblings and friends. For preschoolers, start simply with a familiar rhyme like, ‘Pat a Cake, Pat a Cake’, alternating clapping your own hands and clapping open hands together.
What school yard clapping game rhymes do you remember from your own childhood? Or hear your own children playing now?