Lining up shouldn’t be a stressful, painful, or lengthy process. And yet, it can be a struggle. We did some digging to find some great lining-up and hallway management strategies, tested and approved by teachers.
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First, check out our video on lining-up strategies:
And here are some of the best ideas for getting your students to line up quickly and quietly and stay that way!
1. Put a few kids in charge
Designate kids to be line leaders each week. Teacher Ody C. from the WeAreTeachers Facebook HELPLINE has three leaders total—one for the front of line, one for the middle, and one for back. The students take their jobs very seriously, and they love helping other students stay on track.
2. Use a Voice Levels poster to keep students on track
A Voice Levels poster is a good visual reminder to post near your line-up location.
Learn more: Free Printable Voice Levels Poster
3. Encourage good behavior through chants
This teacher has great line-up chants and posters that she uses to remind her students of good lining-up and hallway behavior.
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers/Pinterest
4. Make it a friendly competition
Here’s another tip from our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group: Jaimi turns lining up into a friendly competition among teams. The goal is to be prepared as quickly as possible. For an added incentive, we suggest monitoring in a visual way, like adding stickers to a chart or Popsicle sticks to a cup for each group, to help students track their progress.
5. Mix up the order
Sometimes it helps to mix things up so your students are always on their toes. Create a new order for your students to line up each week or month, depending on what your students can handle. When you introduce the new order, really emphasize the importance of good line behavior. This is a simple strategy, but it can keep your students alert instead of just rushing to be first when lining up.
6. Assign numbers
You can either assign numbers directly to students, or you can also call out students’ names as you go. For example, “Brax, please line up on number 10.”
Buy it: Line-Up Dots on Etsy
7. Try a classroom song
Try to choose a song that is short and sweet. The goal is to have all students lined up by the end of the song. This will help them stay on task from start to finish. The alphabet song works for Mary, as she mentioned in our HELPLINE group.
8. Encourage students to “pass it back”
This quick game is a fun idea from Katie. With pass it back, you have the student at the front of the line start by putting their fingers on their lips. Then they turn and “pass it” to the next person. This continues quickly and quietly until it reaches the last child. This has really helped her students stay focused and on task in line.
9. Try a timer
Whether you have a simple digital timer, a sand timer, or just the stopwatch on your smart phone, encourage your students to line up quickly. Tell them you’ll have to add time if they’re too loud. Encourage them to beat their time or consistently meet expectations of a certain time.
Learn more: Best Classroom Timers
10. Get yourself a doorbell
Teachers all over social media are talking about the magic of a doorbell. It really helps provide a strong audio cue for students when it’s time to line up.
Learn more: Ideas for Using Wireless Classroom Doorbells
11. Call on students one at a time
Many teachers already have sticks, cards, or other methods they use to call on students. This can work well to get students to line up too. By using something you have already incorporated in the classroom, it can provide just the focus you need.
12. Use stickers as foot-markers
Similar to the numbers-on-the-floor idea, you can also use footsteps, arrows, shapes, or other icons to help students line up. If you have a classroom theme, use an image that goes with the theme, like jellyfish for an ocean theme or bear tracks for a camping theme.
Learn more: Clever Classroom
13. Tell your students you are all spies
This fun little game of pretend works for Nicole R., another teacher from our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group. She will often tell her students that they are on a secret mission. So lining up (quietly) is a really fun activity!
14. Choose a mystery walker
What is a mystery walker exactly? It’s a genius idea from WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group member Mary C. She tells her students she will select a mystery walker every time they’re in the hallway to get a small prize, ticket, or to make a fun choice for the class. But the catch is that the person has to have good lining-up and hallway behavior.
15. Reevaluate the rules
We hear it from teachers time and time again. They had great classroom management strategies for tasks like lining up, and then things went awry—maybe because there’s been too much indoor recess or there was a recent long weekend. Never fear! Just set expectations and go over the rules, just like you would in the first days of school. Sometimes students need those reminders, no matter what time of year it is.
16. Use a walking rope
For younger kids, a walking rope that has a hold for each student is one way to help them remember to stay in line. The handles provide tangible feedback and the colors can help you assign each student a place in line.
Buy it: Walking Rope at Amazon
17. Bring nonverbal reminders with you
Hallway behavior can quickly deteriorate. Hang nonverbal reminders on a lanyard around your neck and use them to prompt student behaviors wherever you go.
Get it: Printable Non-Verbal Reminders at Twinkl
18. March to Mozart
One of the simplest lining-up strategies is simply playing music. Cue classical music and have students line up to the beat. A slow, graceful line-up for Swan Lake or a quick march to Mozart. It’s a great way to introduce your students to various composers and types of music.
Learn more: The Teacher’s Corner
19. Brag on your students
Reward tags are bracelets or tags with compliments that can be given out to students quickly and worn for the rest of the day. Carry brag tags with you during longer hallway runs, and use them to reinforce important hallway behavior.
Learn more: Reward Tag Ideas
20. Max out at three steps
Keep lining up as simple as possible with this three-step process from Natalie Lynn Kindergarten. Her three-step process to get ready, stand, and line up safely is quick, easy to remember, and covers all the bases in terms of behavior.
Check out more ways to have kids line up in three steps from Lucky Little Learners.
21. Use chicken-airplane-soldier
It’s not just for learning how to do a backstroke in swimming. Before you head out into the hallway, lead students through a round of chicken-airplane-soldier to get them to settle their arms by their sides. Their hands will end up right where they should be.
Learn more: Make Moments Matter
22. Teach the hair stare
Looking down from above, we can see when students aren’t facing forward. But from the student’s point of view, it’s not as easy to see. Encourage students to “stare at the hair of the person in front of you” or “do the hair stare” to make sure they’re all facing the right way.
Learn more: Make Moments Matter
23. Be the caboose
Rather than leading the line, consider being the caboose. Set a line leader and train them on what to do. Then you can take the back of the line and give lots of feedback to students who are doing the right thing.
24. Create a sensory hallway
Sometimes walking in line is hard, so give students a way to move in different ways with part of your hallway that’s a sensory hall.
Buy it: Sensory Path Kit at Amazon
25. Create stopping points
As you lead your line through the building, you’ll need places where you can stop and straighten up. And there’s always that one student who needs to catch up. The Inspired Teacher recommends establishing places where students stop and wait, especially along routes that you walk every day, like to and from specials and the cafeteria. You can either post stop signs at the checkpoints or carry a small stop sign and hold it up at each point.
Learn more: Pinterest/Cassie G
26. Use fidget toys as hall passes
There are always a few students who struggle with lining up and walking in line no matter how many times you teach, reteach, and remind. If you’re looking for lining-up strategies for these students, The Inspired Teacher suggests a fidget toy that they can pick up on their way out the door. As long as it’s a fidget that isn’t a projectile, students can keep their hands busy while walking in line.
Buy it: Fidget toys at Amazon
Do you have more lining-up strategies? Come and share them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
For more classroom routine hacks, check out 35 must-teach classroom routines and procedures.