How can I get my bored students back on track and stop their chaotic carrying on? Curricula too often omit explicit instruction in coping skills. This we must make time to enrich in our own style. When boredom brews a procrastination vacation, seize these teachable moments to transport students from their imagined boredom on imaginative, real life journeys.

1. Put their waning attention on the spot.

Toss a stuffed animal over your shoulder onto a Twister mat. Students wearing the color it lands on do 10 jumping jacks or other exercise in place while you pull up famous landmarks on your interactive white board for them to identify. Give an impromptu signal such as whistling Dixie or flipping the light switch strobe-style for upper grade students. Call out a left or right body part as students scramble to lay out the mat and find a spot to land. Those left out get to exercise during the tour of landmarks or other famous places.

2. Bean bags help toss ideas around.

Try this exciting exercise in motor skills that keeps students thinking fast on their toes!

Challenge primary grade grade students with simple tasks such as passing or tossing and catching a bean bag as they recall phonics, math facts, or class rules. Switch up objects to extend concepts like texture, size, and weight.

Upper primary and middle school students can toss fish-shaped pillows for a fun Catch and Release prompt. When someone catches the tossed fish, they release their opinion or fact on water habitats or pollution, the fishing industry or any question off the top of my head before throwing the fish back.

3. Treasure hunts help uncover hidden meanings.

Sink or float objects in a shallow container for primary students to retrieve on command for example, finding the red objects, x number of objects, or objects that begin or end with a given rime. Grades 1-5 can “fish” for more complex challenges like solving math facts in an IWB activity or reciting poems. Number the underside of rocks. Have interchangeable task menus with corresponding challenges posted. Include one with IWB URLs. Containers with lids work best.

4. Go with a flow that drags everyone out to see and do.

Rip currents cause drownings by wearing people out as they fight against it dragging them farther from shore. Your interactive white board is private transportation to indulgent destinations! Take them on a five minute see or do voyage instead of leaving them adrift.

Perhaps you are leading middle school students on a voyage about ocean currents or the Pythagorean theorem.

Model aloud with wonder that it may take time to grasp this concept but once they do, they can bridge more concepts than they ever dreamed. Then show them some of what may lie beyond their grasp today but that is within their reach tomorrow. Find parallel real settings for your lesson and briefly venture there on your IWB. Ask for relevant suggestions for destinations, for example, world famous bridges. If they are unfamiliar with any, guide them to some of the top bridges like Great Belt Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, and Si-o-se Pol. Choose bridges located in regions currently in the news and segue to current event topics.

Younger students perk up at the promise of an “imagination vacation” upon completion of their task. Were they sorting or grouping? Drama is the mama llama of young children’s attention. Grab a sock puppet, and let the monkey lead them through relevant five minute interactive activities.

5. One for the road.

“I’m feeling kind of hungry. John Q., would you mind reading today’s lunch menu aloud?” Give students one minute to discuss their choices, thank John Q., and return to the topic.

6. “Interactive activities for sale while supplies last.”

If your class or campus uses reward currency like Cheetah Cash or Bear Bucks, add to the store menu a pricey five or ten minute interactive white board activity of their choice. For an additional amount let them invite a friend or parent to accompany them during lunch in the classroom with the teacher.

The availability of technology in the classroom makes it possible to show and do more today than ever. Providing ample opportunities to see and do is a sure cure for what my students and I humorously dubbed Bored Behavior Syndrome. Enriching students’ experiences by cultivating life skills and equipping them with coping tools for a lifetime gives them the attention they need to carry on in life.