Recently, a comment was left on a previous post asking about using the bells in a lower elementary class. Since I'm not all that savvy with this blogging stuff, I couldn't figure out how to reply to the comment. Then I realized that it might be a question that a few other people have so I thought I'd just answer the question here.
The question was how to keep the bells from distracting the other students in an elementary classroom and I can only answer this from my own experience. We had a set of bells in our elementary classroom for a number of years and they were played daily. At first they were a bit of a distraction because they were a new addition to the shelves. For the first two weeks they were played constantly. Gradually the children got used to having the bells in the classroom and they were only played a few times a day.
Most of the time the bells were played with respect but every now and then someone would decide to play them roughly or very loudly. That was VERY distracting and the other children were very vocal about the proper way to use the bells. The teacher seldom had to say anything.
For the most part, bells in the elementary classroom are handled just like any other material. Lessons are offered and presented and the children practice as long and as often as they want. Also, just like in any other presentation, handling the material with respect is highlighted. If a child mishandles the materials.....they get another lesson in respectful handling.
Now, as I said in another post, it is often the teacher who is most distracted by the bells. I grew up in a household where someone was always playing something so a child practising the bells in the classroom has never bothered me. However, I have met other teachers who find the bells quite distracting. All I can suggest is that if it seems the bells are a distraction, look around and observe the other children. Are they really distracted? If so, what is it that is distracting them? Are they just listening for a moment before going back to their work? Do they settle down quickly after someone takes up the bells or do they begin to disturb each other? Observation is always our best tool in the classroom.
The bells are such an important material that I wish every school could afford a set for each classroom. However, being an administrator, I realize this is often not financially feasible. If you have a set of bells, for goodness sake don't hesitate for one minute to put them in the classroom.
Hope that answers the questions. If not, please let me know.