Upcoming Courses

40 Hour Workweek

Classroom Management, Equity Resources, Teaching Tips & Tricks   |   Jan 20, 2014

50 fun call-and-response ideas to get students’ attention

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

50 fun call-and-response ideas to get students’ attention

By Angela Watson

Call-and-response is a time-tested technique for getting attention, not just in classrooms but in the military, in churches, at sports events, and in traditional cultures in various parts of the world. Instead of repeating yourself, train students to respond to a fun or inspiring statement!

call and response

Here are some tips for creating your own call-and-response:

  • Clap or snap in patterns and have students repeat the patterns back. Using familiar songs and beats (from popular music or children’s songs) really gets kids’ attention.
  • Sing or play a song or rhyme. You can sing the first part and have students sing the second part. Or, chant/sing the beginning of the line and have students respond with the end of last word of the line.
  • Use regional or sports team call-and responses. A teacher in St. Louis uses “Who dat?…We dat!” Here in NYC, I’ve heard “Hello, Brooklyn…How you do?” (from a Jay Z song.)
  • Incorporate traditional call-and-responses from various world cultures. When I lived in D.C., I taught many children from Nigeria and Ghana, where call-and-response techniques are deeply rooted in the culture and extend beyond the classroom walls. “Ago…Amée!” (pronounced (AH-go, AHM-ay) is a great example to use in the classroom–hold the notes a little bit (Ahh-gooooooo…Am-éeeeeeee!) Here’s a traditional call-and-response song from Ghana (MP3 here).
  • Put a twist on the old “If you can hear me, put your hands on your head.” Teacher Stacey M. says she tells her students, “‘If you can hear me, put your hands on your head, on your shoulders, knees, etc’, but as I make the motions, I will say a different body part. So, they are watching me put my hands on my shoulders, but I am saying,’Hands on your hips’. It’s hilarious! It takes them a while to figure it out and really gets them to focus on me.”
  • Refer to the school motto or theme. Teacher John B. says, “We have a school wide attention signal. We are the Giunta Giants. The adult says Giun-ta and two claps. Students say Gi-ants and two claps.”  Tanya M. says, “Call the name of your school and they respond back with the mascot name.” Betsy M. shares this one: “Teacher: Warriors Believe!!! Students: Warriors Achieve! It’s our middle school mascot and works every time!”
  • Reinforce character education and life lessons. Anything you have kids repeat multiple times per day is going to get ingrained in their heads, so use the opportunity to teach something meaningful! Try: Never…Give Up! Work hard…Do right!
  • Ask your students to come up with their own. This takes 5 minutes and can be a great back-to-school activity or something to do after a holiday break to build a sense of community and get kids ready to learn again. Have students work in pairs or small groups to brainstorm a list of call-and-responses they’d like to use, and narrow the list down to their top 5. Have them submit the list to you for final selection. You can have the class vote on the one they like best, or use a bunch of the kids’ suggestions, trying a new one every month or so.
  • Use one of these 50 call-and-responses ideas to get you started:
  1. Meanwhile…Back at the ranch!
  2. Scooby Dooby Doo…Where Are You?
  3. Oh me…Oh my!
  4. Ready Set…You bet!
  5. If you can’t make a mistake…You can’t make anything!
  6. No bees, no honey…No work, no money!
  7. Hocus pocus…Time to focus!
  8. Hocus pocus…Everybody focus!
  9. Holy moly…Guacamole!
  10. Macaroni and cheese…Everybody freeze!
  11. What’s up?…It’s all good!
  12. Crystal…clear!
  13. One, two, three, eyes on me…One, two, eyes on you!
  14. To infinity…And beyond!
  15. What are we here for?…To learn!
  16. Hakuna…Matata!
  17. Zip, zip, zap…We’re all that!
  18. Hands on top…Everybody stop! [while putting both hands on head]
  19. Can I get a…Whoop whoop!
  20. Freeze! Everybody clap your hands!…[7 claps]
  21. Stop…Collaborate and listen!
  22. Piece of pie…Piece of cake!
  23. Are you ready, kids?…Aye Aye, Captain!
  24. Sponge Bob…Square Pants!
  25. Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?…SpongeBob Squarepants!
  26. L-I-S…T-E-N!
  27. And a hush fell across the room!…Shhhhh!
  28. Marco…Polo!
  29. Peanut butter…Jelly!
  30. Work hard…Do right!
  31. We are learning…All the time!
  32. Mona…Lisa! [sitting like Mona Lisa with hands in lap, mouth quiet, eyes on teacher]
  33. WWW Dot…Zip it dot com!
  34. All set…You bet!
  35. (singing) Bum, bada bum bum…Bum, bum!
  36. Here I come to save the day…Mighty Mouse is on his way!
  37. Eeny meeny…Miny mo!
  38. Every choice you make counts…Make choices you can count on!
  39. Ready to Rock…Ready to Roll!
  40. Self…Control!
  41. Good, better…Best!…Never let it…Rest!…Until your good is…Better!…And your better is the…Best!
  42. Class, class…Yes, yes! (vary the speed, tone, volume, etc. and have students match it)
  43. Hot fudge…Sundae!
  44. Who loves you?….You do!
  45. Banana…Split!
  46. Flat tire…Shhh!
  47. Focus UP…[kids bang on the desk twice and clap twice in a nice rhythm]
  48. Zip it, lock it [do the motion of zipping and locking lips]…Put it in your pocket [class does the hand motions as well and then puts the pretend key in their pocket]
  49. Shark bait…Oooh ha ha! [from Finding Nemo]
  50. Are you focused?…Yes, I am!

Want a ready-to-use version of these call-and-response ideas for your class? In my TeachersPayTeachers store, you can purchase a PowerPoint and printable cards to display and teach call-and-responses to your class. Everything is completely editable so you can customize the files and incorporate your students’ ideas!

What type of call-and-response systems do you use with your students? Share your suggestions in the comments! Or find more ideas in my post 15 creative & respectful ways to quiet a class.

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
Browse Articles by Angela

Discussion


  1. We find great success with using humming breath in the classroom. Humming Breath allows teachers to let go of frustration from children not listening to them while bringing the children into focus and self-awareness.

    Directions to Humming Breath:
    Take a deep breath in through your nose and as you breathe out make the sound “hmmm” like a gentle bumblebee.

  2. I am on a quest…to be my best.
    I will make…good choices today.
    I will respect…my teachers and others.
    I will give…my best effort in all I do.
    (from our school’s pledge)

  3. I use:

    Teacher : “alright stop!”
    Students: “collaborate and listen, (teacher name) is back and she needs our attention!”

  4. hear ye hear ye…all eyes on the queen
    the first day i used this i was wearing a tiny crown on my head! the kids loved it!!!

  5. I sing. R E S P E C T, response FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO ME!
    R E S P E C T, response TAKE CARE OF TCB!

  6. I love this idea! I’m a 7th/8th math teacher, and I want something related to my subject. I just came up with: “Can you divide by zero?…..NO WAY!” I’ll teach a lesson on why you can’t divide by zero on the first day of school, then this will be the chant all year. Dividing by zero comes up all the time, so this chant will not only be a call to attention, but also reinforce the oh-so-easy-to-forget math rule of division!

    1. You can use

      Please Excuse… My Dear Aunt Sally
      Pi …. r squared
      Pi… 3 point 1 4
      What you do to one side… you must do to the other.

      I could think of these for almost every lesson!
      (I’m a math teacher too

  7. I’ve used “123 eyes on me… 12 eyes on you” before with pretty good success, but my go-to lately is “When the hand goes up… the mouth goes shut,” and I put my hand in the air and they do the same as they stop talking.

  8. When kids r working and teacher makes modifications to the instructions
    Teacher says: Bazinga!
    Students stop and listen knowing they now have to either add something or make some changes.
    Students redpond: Bazunga!

  9. And a hush falls over the crowd. …husssssshhhhh

    Cris cross apple sauce….spoon in a bowl (students are sitting crisscrossed, hands in lap )

    I also use sign language for standing up, (left hand palm up, right hand index finger middle up, & punted fingertips down on hand. )

    Checkmark system, if kids are being loud, I walk over to board &put check, if they get 3 they get a bad report (specials class). Eventually if I just start walking to board they self quiet.
    They can get their checks erased if they are behaving well. If it’s an individual student, I have put a name on the board, & they have gotten checks themselves. (Which can also be erased)

  10. We have a pirate themed class. It’s a twist on class class…yes yes. I go crew, crew…aye, aye, Captain. I just recently stumbled upon:Crew, crew, crew…aye aye aye!

    1. I have a pirate themed classroom as well. I’m using All hands….on deck (kids stop whatever they’re doing, place both hands on their desks and look at me). We incorporate this into clean-up and transitions, as well as when we think-pair-share.

  11. In my 3rd grade classroom, I have to teach multiplication facts. I thought them a song for the facts and will start the song and the students finish the song. The students love it and want to sing the tune for the other songs as well.

      1. I do the same thing… I change We will we will rock you … to we will we will math you. I then throw out multiplication facts and they say the answer.. the kids love it

  12. As a teacher from central Ohio, home of the National Football champions, The Ohio State University Buckeyes (and twice my alma mater) we have a lot of team spirit! A go-to method here is O-H…..I-O. Works every time with all ages.

    Go Bucks!

  13. hakuna…Matata!
    To infinity… And beyond!
    M-I-c-k-e-y…m-o-u-s-e!

    (My classroom is Disney themed)

  14. I sing to the tune of if your happy and you know it:

    If you can hear me please raise your hand
    If you can hear me please raise your hand
    If you can hear me now, please kindly show me how
    If you can hear me just raise your hand.

  15. My class came up with these:

    T: Minion Minion
    S: Banana Na-na

    T: Minions are you ready?
    S: 2 x claps; 2 x lap claps; 1 x clap; YEAH!

    T: 5 Blue
    S: Woo hoo – chicka chicka – aaaah!!!!

  16. T: Minion Minion
    S: Banana Na-na

    T: Minions are you ready?
    S: 2 x claps; 2 x lap claps; 1 x clap; YEAH!

    T: 5 Blue
    S: Woo hoo – chicka chicka – aaaah!!!!

  17. I use these a lot when lining up.
    Ice cream…..Sundae!
    Banana……split!
    Charlie. …. Brown!
    Hands and…..Eyes!!
    Rock and…Roll! (That’s the cue to start walking out the door)

  18. I teach elementary art

    I say…”Art, Art”…students say….”Let’s Start”

    The only thing is the older students start saying Let’s fart. 🙂

  19. This is a very helpful list. I must point out that I find

    # 37 Eeny meeny…Miny mo!

    …a challenging rhyme based on its history. Many folks continue with “catch a tiger by the toe”. However, in our American culture another word, the n***** word is often used instead of tiger. I would find it impossible to continue using this rhyme in our diverse/multicultural world.

      1. I am from the south too and I don’t know if it still goes on, but in the 90’s when I grew up, it was said sometimes. 🙁

  20. T: waterfall
    S: ssshhhh
    Also,
    T: (in a quiet voice) If you can hear my voice clap your hands
    S: clap (once)

  21. I teach preschool and use this call back when the children are on line before walking down the hall:
    T: Eyes in front, feet on the floor, hands behind your back (or at your side depending on your school style) and say no more…..shhhh.
    After a while the children know it too and say it with me.
    I have REALLY gotten tired of the “put a bubble on your mouth” when the children puff up their cheeks.

  22. Some of these are super useful, but I have to simplify a lot of them for my kids since its their second/third language. I use:
    1-2-3…hands to myself (all children give themselves a hug)
    hands on knees…yes, please! (they put their hands on their knees)
    look at me… I see you!
    Are you listening? (in a small voice)… I’m listening!
    Attention! … one, two! (children sit properly)

    At the beginning of circle time, we always do:
    feet…together (put feet together)
    knees, knees… knees together (push knees together)
    shoulders up… I don’t know! (children shrug their shoulders)
    shoulders back… ah ha, I know! (children put one finger up)
    think… tall
    I want to… be tall (children raise both hands, sitting up straight)
    I don’t want to… be small (children put their hands on their legs, still sitting up straight)

  23. Batman 60s:
    Student: “Atomic batteries to brainpower… turbines to speed!”
    Teacher: “Roger, ready to start work.”

  24. Ultra Guardians maths
    Commander McParland: Alright Ultra Students
    , off you go!
    Us: Ultroger, Julie!
    (Plays Ultra Guardians theme on the whiteboard)

  25. Batmaid (Japanese high school Batman style):
    Teacher: “We don’t know who Baba-kun is behind that mask of hers, but she’s super sweet around the boys.”
    (The Batphone beeps)
    Ash-kun: “I’ll get her, senpai. Hey, uh… sorry to call ya outta that exam, but it’s the Batphone.”
    Baba-chan: “Adam West’s sooooo dreamy~ Alright Dia-yan, to the Batpoles!”
    (Baba-chan flips a switch on a bust of Ichigo Momomiya, making her geeky bookcase slide back revealing the entrance to the Batcave.

  26. Matt-taros: I have… arrived!
    Wayne-taros: Hey, you. Won’t you be quiet enough for me to string you along?
    Sid-taros: My strength has made you be quiet! Put a bubble in with this.
    Alan-taros: Hey, you! Mind if I shoot a be quiet shot? Can’t hear your answer!

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!