Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Ideas to Help Littlies Line up

Are you finding that you're spending lots of time waiting for your students to line up?

Tried almost everything to help them get in line?

Ideas to Help Littlies Line up

Below are 21 ideas that may help your students learn to line up.  

Ideas for Helping Littlies Line up
Image from Mara Marie. Thanks Mara! 

How about these ideas then? 

1. When I taught Kindergarten and first grade, I tried many things. Take a photo of them lining up with mouths closed, still bodies and eyes looking ahead.

2. Tell your students that they are on a train and they have to be careful not to fall out.

3. Use a wink!  Wink at students who are in line and bring them to the front as leaders. the next time you line up, those who had trouble should remember to stay in line.

4. Praise the heck out of those students who are doing what is expected of them.

5. Make a class book on how to line up.  Use photos or have children illustrate the book.

6. Use plastic people or dolls to model how to line up with students who have trouble.

7. Create a chant with the class.

8.  Whisper instructions.

9. Learn a poem or song. "My arms are by my side, I'm standing straight and tall.  Eyes ahead, voices off.  I'm ready for the hall." This poem is by Megan Nichols.  I use to whisper; "Eyes to the ceiling, eyes to the floor, eyes to the door and eyes to me, let's go walking, no, no talking." It worked like a charm with K-1.

Here are some more songs your students can learn to help with lining up.

10. Mystery walker.  Pick a student's name but don't tell them. Watch them whilst they are walking and if they do a good job they are either praised or rewarded with a positive consequence or even a prize. Variation - Secret walker.  Choose 3-4 students (don't tell them) as you look up and down the line. Tell your students you have chosen x students as your secret walkers.  If students are starting to get unsettled, explain that you are checking on your secret walkers. When you get back to your classroom, use your behavior management rewards to acknowledge the children that were great walkers.  You may only pick one or two of the secret walkers. (Mary Smith McGraw)

11. Hugs and bubbles. Students hug themselves and catch a bubble in their mouth. (Tanja Bullins).

12. Hips and lips or buttons and duck tails.  Hips and lips; students place a hand on their hips and a finger on their lips.  Buttons and duck tails; students place a finger on their lips and a hand behind their backs as they walk.  these are great for Pre-K and Kindergarten as they need concrete instructions.

13. Try using language for different areas of the classroom and school.  You might like to describe these as quiet zones and talking zones. (Lisa Horton Messner)

14. Have students act out an animal or object like a mouse, a tree.  Have them think about how that animal or object would move and the sound that it does/doesn't make.  (Erica Shetler Watters)

15. Watch when children are doing the right thing and praise, praise, praise.

16. Flip and zip. wait until everyone has their mouths closed and no noises are coming out.  (Kristi Phillips Stutsman)

17. Use feet prints on the floor.  Adhere colorful feet to the floor with clear, thick tape or contact.  Children will know exactly where to line up each time. (Tanja Bullins).

Ideas for Helping Littlies Line up
                                        Image from Tanja Bullins, Thanks Tanja!

Click here to download your free feet template (different to the feet seen in the image above).

FREE feet/footprint templates for lining up from Clever Classroom

18. Line up in alphabetical order.  this should prevent arguing from the outset. Change the starting letter so that the leaders names begin with a letter other than a.  Theresa Hazard

19.  Discuss how and why we line up in a certain way. Have a general discussion about our responsibilities and expectations when we line up. make an anchor chart where appropriate.

This first day of school discussion really does set the scene.  To add to this, i would make a chart that lists the characteristics of a student who can line-up and walk quietly.  You might like to list five points and call it, "A 5 Star student lines up:" (include 5 stars and write points).

20.  Maintain classroom expectations.  Explicitly teaching the micro steps to line up is important but it is equally important to maintain the level of expectation so that you aren't wasting valuable instructional time. Any of the above ideas will help students remember what is expected of them.  here is a video that looks more in depth at the 5 components of expectations in the classroom.

21. Think about how you an individualize the skills needed for lining up.  Many of the above ideas will help with that.  Some children will need more one-on-one support with this.  You might like to help them write a recount after you have taken photos.  You may also need to make short term goals and objectives with them.  This could be done with a simple picture that you label together and co-construct a sentence(s) to match. For an on the spot idea, allow the student to own the situation by allowing them to search for three people who are doing the right things.  He/she could give high-fives to those students.  Alternatively, they could help you at the front by looking for students along the way that are spectacular walkers!

Lining up Videos

To see the entire video list, go to my 'Lining Up' YouTube Playlist. 

It can be hard for little ones to learn social skills and specifically how to line up, how you expect them too. 

Good luck with these strategies!  If you have another strategy, please leave it in the comments below and I will add it to the list for you.  

Let me know how you go with your students after using these ideas. 

For more help with classroom management ideas, you might like our Social Skills book list or our post on Classroom Management, Legos Style or even our Social Skills COMBO. 

Books that Teach Social SkillsClassroom Management, Legos Style  

Social Skills Flippy Books with Manners/Expectations Posters COMBO  

FREE Class Attention Grabbers from our Facebook Fans

For even more social skills ideas, visit our Pinterest board; Social Skills. 
Social Skills Pinterest board

Don't forget to download your free feet templates!

FREE feet/footprint templates for lining up from Clever Classroom


  1. What an awesome list. The chant I use is "One hand on my hip, one finger on my lip, now we're ready to take a trip". I think I saw it on Tara West's blog.

    Jem's Bright Buttons

  2. Emma, what a wonderful, informative post! I've been teaching for 25 years, and many of these ideas are new to me. Thank you SO much! Is there a way to follow your blog? I don't see the usual follower section along the side.

    Sharon Dudley, NBCT
    Teaching with Sight


Thank you for taking the time to comment on this blog post, it is very much appreciated. Be sure to follow us, to keep up to date with our new and exciting posts. Regards, Emma Farrell - Clever Classroom :)