Teaching Kids about Distractions


Lately I have worked quite a bit with my elementary students to teach them about how to improve their Attention & Focus skills.    I have focused on my 4th and 5th grade students – and this has been quite the under-taking!

Like all skills, I wanted to help my students understand what distracters were – then progress toward having them identify what kinds of distracters may be more prevalent for them individually.   I taught them about outside the brain distracters” – environmental influences on their learning,  and “inside the brain distracters” – cognitive or emotional influences on attention to learning.

We have done several activities surrounding this topic.  Here, I am posting a document with 3 parts:  1)  Definition of the Types of Distracters, 2) a self-reflection sheet for kids to identify which specific elements may influence their ability to attend, and 3)  some game cards to discriminate between “inside the brain” and “outside the brain” distracters.  The link is at the end of this blog post.

First, we explored the definitions of these two distracter types, with page 1 of the linked attachment.  We talked about examples from each category, and brainstormed our own examples.

Distractor types

Then, I enlisted the help of a much-loved game in my classroom, “What’s in Ned’s Head.”  If you are not familiar with this game – there are countless uses!  Here is a link to the game on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Fundex-2460-Whats-Neds-Head/dp/B000096RFF 

We used this game to discriminate between the distracter types.  Here is how my Ned’s head looked as we explored our Distracter Types:

Neds Head

On the file attached below, you will see that on the 3rd page, you cut out the Distracter examples, and if the example is an “inside the brain” distracter, the kids shove that little paper right into Ned’s nostril or ear!  If it is an “outside the brain” example, we taped it right to the outside of his head.  This was a ton of fun for the kids!

Example slips

Finally, we used the 2nd page of the attachment for each student to think about what specifically distracts them at school.  I also asked each child to take this sheet home and ask their parent(s) and siblings in their home what are some “inside” and “outside” distracters that impact them at work, school, etc.

Distractor Self Application

So-  here is a link to the full PDF document:  Distractor Types

In an upcoming post, I will share some ideas to teach kids about “Distracter Blasters!”  Best wishes…. Jill