Since the beginning of school, I have been pretty frustrated with Merrick's inability to pay attention during "class". At first, I thought, "Oh my goodness! Maybe my kid has ADD!" But, when it came time to play Hot Wheels or make a marble run, his ability to focus was uncanny.
It was during this time that I had one of those, "I'm so grateful we homeschool!" moments. With just a little bit of research, I was able to put together a unit study on Attentiveness. Though it was very tempting, I knew I didn't want to punish Merrick during his times of inattentiveness during school. I didn't want him to associate school with bad feelings or experiences. Instead, I tried to find a way to put a positive spin on the situation. Instead of going the "Stop getting distracted!" route, I decided to say instead, "Are you paying attention like a monster?"
Here are some of the things we did during our Attentiveness study:
- Here are the main scripture we focused on during the week:
Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.
To help Merrick remember the scripture, I made a little handwriting worksheet for him to copy. You can click here to download the copywork.
And, since we're on the roll of giving away worksheets, here is a Read it, Trace it, Glue it worksheet I made. To download this printable, click here.
As I mentioned before, bringing monsters into the picture at any time helps draw Merrick's attention. I found a free (!) monster packet on Teachers Pay Teachers that really helped us with this theme. The packet was written to help with first day expectations and manners. We used the many monster pages that focus on listening.
During the week, we constantly talked about what it means to listen with our whole bodies. Here's the definition we came up with:
- We listen with our brain by thinking about what the speaker is saying.
- We listen with our eyes by looking at the person speaking.
- We listen with our heart by caring about what the speaker is sharing.
- We listen with our mouths closed.
- We listen with our hands in our lap.
- We listen with still bodies.
To download your free packet by Kathleen Pederson, click here.
To go along with this packet, we played a game we made up called Monster Freeze Frame. I put on music while Merrick walked around like a monster - as crazy and loud as he could be. When the music stopped, he had to stand completely still, hands by his side, and face me (I would stand in different places each time) with his mouth closed. What a simple game, right? It's crazy how much he enjoyed it.
Here's Merrick acting like a monster:
And listening with his whole body:
Yes, his shirt is actually that dirty. Don't ask. I have no idea.
A great book that went well with this monster-day-attentiveness-theme is In One Ear, Out the Other by Michael Dahl. We found it at our local library, but you can check it out here. What a cute book!
For a craft, we made telephones! Thankfully, I had a few green bean cans onhand. I simply bought a roll of thin string at the hardware store for around $3, got a hammer and a nail and voila! Instant phone!
To make the phone, hammer a nail through the top of each can to make a small hole. Cut a 10 - 12 foot piece of string. Thread it through the hole in each can. Tie a know on the inside of the can. Make sure the string is taut when "using" the phone.
I tried to use this craft to teach Merrick that you can't talk and listen at the same time (it's impossible to use the tin can telephone this way). As always, however, he proved me wrong. "Yes, you can Mommy," he declared, "Look." He proceeded to talk into one tin can and listen to himself through the other tin can. Darn.
- Another fun activity was having a treasure hunt. I bought a couple of very inexpensive prizes and placed them around the house. Merrick had to listen to each of my directions (hop like a bunny 6 times, then turn left) to find his prize.
You can find other game ideas like this one on the Kids of Integrity Attentiveness Page. This is where we found most of our ideas. Another great link is the attentiveness study at Hubbards Cupboard. She also has studies on bring orderly, teachable, and obedient.
Here are some books we found helpful during our study:
- Listen and Learn by Cheri J. Meiners M.Edu
- Listen, Buddy by Helen Lester
- Just Listen by Minifried Morris
I hope this helps! Let me know if you use any of the ideas or if you have some different suggestions! I'd love to hear them (because I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to do this unit again soon with my other two kiddos!).