We pay attention when someone enters the room with balloons and the candles are lit on a birthday cake, when a whistle blows, and when someone is crying. Big things almost always get our attention, but adding small and intentional sounds, visual aids, and motions also do a lot to help leaders get, and keep, the attention of a group of children.
Pay attention to your space.
It’s important for classroom space to be familiar and comfortable, but that doesn’t mean it has to look the same every week. Taping a path on the floor and placing lamps around the room will get the attention of a child long before you turn the lights out and they gather to explore how God’s word is a lamp to their feet and a light to their path (Psalm 119:105).
Pay attention to key visuals in a story.
An element of surprise almost always gets our attention. Surprise your class by wearing an angel costume when re-telling the Christmas story, or bring a baby lamb to class the day they hear about listening for the voice of the Shepherd who knows them and invites them to follow (John 10:27).
Pay attention to the need to move.
For children, movement is as important as sitting and listening. Take your class on a walking discussion to explore the artwork and stained-glass windows in your church building. Tour the children’s library and remind them of the great books that are available, or head outside for a lesson on worry and God’s loving care for the flowers, and the birds, and each child in your class (Matthew 6:25-33).
Pay attention to rituals.
Rituals help children feel comfortable. Because rituals become familiar, children know what to expect and learn what they need to do to participate. Rituals include the saying of the Lord’s Prayer, taking the offering, or a call to worship. Help prepare children to pay attention to a ritual by lighting a candle or inviting a child to play a soothing sound on a rain stick, wind chime, or singing bowl.
Including attention-getting strategies in your lesson plan invites children to tune in to their surroundings and the people around them. It also helps them to tune in to the many ways God has spoken and been on the move throughout history and continues to speak and be on the move in their lives.