Teaching materials for Sustained Attention program

This teaching material is designed to teach children sustained attention through activities, and then by systematically generalizing to activities across environments and situations.

Teaching objectives:

  1. Helps develop the most fundamental learning how to learn skill.
  2. Increases duration of attending to environmental stimuli.
  3. Helps increase student’s engagement in the learning process.

Prerequisites to Sustained Attention Program:

  1. Basic contingencies (understand the relationship between work and reward)
  2. Basic compliance and Beginnings of Learning how to Learn Behaviors (such as able to sit still, listen to teacher’s instructions and tolerate negative feedback or restart of a task)
  3. Basic matching skills
  4. Basic imitation skills

Materials needed:

Prepare two identical sets of pictures with labels that children are familiar with.
*You might laminate the background board and put Velcro underneath all the target labels.


  1. Put one set of pictures on whiteboard or wall for teachers’/parents’
  2. Give another identical set of pictures (the set with Velcro) to the student.
  3. Teacher/parent points at one of the labels in the board.
  4. The student needs to pay attention to what you are pointing at and rip that label off from their own set of pictures and place it in a container.
  5. Task is completed when the student rips off all labels from their board.

Common problems:

When the student is not paying attention, say looking away or busy playing with their own stuff, and miss out on what you have pointed to, redo the WHOLE task till the student is able to pay attention throughout the entire activity.


In order to have the student understand your expectation (contingency), at the beginning, you can put two identical sets of pictures closely and gradually increase the proximity, helping the student to follow and attend to more easily.

You might try to physically prompt the student to rip off the labels if they don’t understand what to do.

You might point to the labels with an exaggerate movement to allow the student to see clearly what to do. Point to the label and stay for a longer period of time allows the student to process the information.

You might decrease the number of labels in the board if there are successive failures.

Extension Practice:

If the student’s attention span increases after practice, you may increase the complexity of each presentation. For example:

  1. Increase the number of labels in the picture, or
  2. Adjust the timing of the movements to increase task difficulty level, such as point to the labels at a faster speed or shorten the duration of time your finger points to the labels.
  3. Add auditory information as distraction. For instance, point to the labels while telling a story.

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