Increasing Attention Span in the Classroom: Activities & Games

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

As teachers, you may be challenged by your students' overall attention span or ability to concentrate in the classroom. However, there are many quick and easy activities you can incorporate to build students' capacity for maintaining focus.

Getting Children's Attention

We live in a time where, as teachers, we often find ourselves competing for the attention of our students. Computers, tablets, and smart phones have granted our students virtually unlimited access to information while simultaneously decreasing their natural attention spans. However, there are games and activities we can incorporate into our classrooms to help increase students concentration and focus.

Attention and focus have to be built up over time in students
focus student

Indoor Freeze Tag

Getting students engaged in physical activities is a great way to help build up students' attention spans, especially when you design activities that require students to use their large muscle groups to be successful. Engaging students in activities where they have to concentrate on their physical position helps build their attention span and focus. Freeze tag is one you can easily modify to do in your classroom with students, especially on days where the weather might trap you inside.


  • laminated, colored sheets of paper to use as floor markers
  • create a pose for each color marker.
  • a set of review questions that students can answer without pencil or paper


  1. Arrange the floor markers around your classroom, making sure there is a marker for every student.
  2. Play music for thirty seconds to a minute. Have students dance around the room, and when the music stops, have them stop on a marker.
  3. Have each student strike a pose based on the color of marker they landed on. They must stay frozen in that pose until you unfreeze them. You can post the moves on the board for reference.
  4. Start the music again and repeat the process.

You can do various things to allow your students to unfreeze. For example, if you were practicing multiplication facts, you might have three students correctly do a multiplication problem before the rest can unfreeze. You could make them answer history questions, or even spell a word. You can even require that the first three that 'unfreeze' answer the question!

Take pictures of your specific poses and post them during the game

Concentration Breaks

One way to build up students' ability to concentrate in the classroom is to deliberately give them concentration breaks during instruction, especially during longer activities or long periods of classwork. This helps the brain to reset and rest so that it can come back to the task at hand with renewed focus. The more you practice these breaks, the more effective they become. It also begins to train students to realize when they need a concentration break and gives them some options for what to do when they need one.

Tongue Twisters

A fast and easy concentration break is to get your class saying tongue twisters! Due to the challenging combination of sounds, you truly have to concentrate on a good tongue twister. You can create a presentation with the words of various tongue twisters to project on your board at a moment's notice. Take two or three minutes, and have students pair with a partner. Have them keep repeating the tongue twister over and over, encouraging students to say it as fast as they can while still reciting it correctly. After three minutes, class resumes!

Missing Numbers Sequence

Another great concentration game you can play in less than five minutes with your students involves number sequences. Create various number sequences with a range of complexity appropriate to the students in your classroom. Project a number sequence on the board, and ask students to find the missing number. If you want to make it competitive, use the groups already set up in your classroom and keep a chart of running point totals!

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account