Because getting kids to line up shouldn’t be rocket science.
Lining up shouldn’t be a stressful, painful, or lengthy process. Yet, we know it can be a struggle, so we did some digging to find some great lining-up strategies, tested and approved by teachers. Here are some of the best ideas for getting your students to line up quickly and quietly.
1. Put a few kids in charge.
We love the idea from teacher Ody C. from the WeAreTeachers.com HELPLINE group. She designates kids to be line leaders each week. She has three leaders total—one for the front of line, one for the middle, and one for back. The students take their job very seriously, and they love helping other students stay on track.
2. Use a voice levels poster to keep students on track.
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.
4. Make it a friendly competition.
Here’s another tip from the WeAreTeachers.com 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 to help students track their progress.
5. Mix it up with a different order.
Sometimes it just 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. 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 lining up just being a rush to be first.
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.”
7. Try a 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.
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.
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.
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 visuals like arrows, shapes, or other designs.
Similar to the numbers-on-the-floor idea, you can also use arrows, shapes, or other icons to help students line up. We’ve seen some teachers trace and make cut-outs of their students’ feet. Otherwise, you can try any visual that will work for your kids.
13. Tell your students you are all spies!
This little fun game of pretend works for Nicole R., another teacher from the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group
. She will often tell her students that they are on a secret mission. So lining up is a really fun activity!
14. Choose a mystery walker.
What is a mystery walker exactly? It’s a genius idea from the 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 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.
About the Author
Stacy Tornio is a freelance writer with a focus on education. She's an author of nearly 20 books, including many educational family titles. Nearly everyone in her family is a teacher. So she decided to be rebellious and write about teachers instead.
15 Genius Lining-up Strategies to Make Your Life Easier