Classroom Management Ideas

Line-Up Strategies

Purpose of Activities: To put forth a number of ideas to aid teachers in having elementary students line up and/or move through the school in a safe, quiet, and controlled manner.

Suggested Grade Level: Ideas may work for a variety of different grade levels.

Description of Tasks/Activities: As any teacher of elementary-age students can attest, getting students to line up quietly and safely can be a daunting task to even the most experienced teacher. This can be even more challenging for the physical education teacher, many of whom find themselves responsible for picking up and delivering children to and from their classroom to physical education. Doing this eight to ten times a day shows the need for instructional protocols which positively encourage and motivate students to line up and move through their school safely, quietly, and in a controlled manner. Hopefully you'll find the activities below to be of help in this regard.


NEW!! - Walk to Bach-  I work with kindergarten children, so when it is time for us to make a line to go from one classroom to another, I have them "walk to Bach."  While the children are sitting on the carpet, I play Bach's music and one at a time, have them walk to the door in a calm and orderly manner. On other occasions, we might "stroll to Strauss" or "march to Mozart." The idea is to have them listen to the beat and tempo of the music and walk to the beat.
Once my students are in line, I sing:(to the tune of: If You're Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands)
"Put your finger on your lip, on your lip;
Put your finger on your lip on your lip;
Put your finger on your lip,
And make sure it doesn't slip
Put your finger on your lip
On your lip."
I have the most quiet line in the whole school!
Submitted by: Abigail Glitterbug

1. Ten Hut - After they are in the line (we line up on two parallel lines to leave), I say "Fall Out". They can then be messy on the line, i.e., step off, not be in line, chatty, etc. I then say "Ten Hut!!" and they are to "snap to attention" by quickly slapping their legs, straightening up, being directly behind the person in front of them, and getting totally quiet. When they do this without being "messy" I give bonus points. This begins as a "contest" and always ends up with both teams in a tie. I make a big deal to their teachers and sometimes we perform for teachers or parents in the hall.
Submitted by Leslie Lynk who teaches at Greenbriar West Elementary School in Fairfax, VA.

2. Colors - When it is time to leave the activity area ask first for the students who are wearing something red, then blue, then green, etc. to line up. o Ask students line up according to eye color. "Those who have hazel eyes can line up now", etc. o Ask students to line up according to hair color (i.e., brown, red, blonde, etc.)
Submitted by Mark Manross who is the Executive Editor of PE Central.

3. Alphabetically - After gathering students in front of you ask the students to line up alphabetically by last name (first name may work as well). This is a good cooperative activity so give them a little extra time to do this. Encourage them to use quiet voices while doing this. May want to time this to see how long it takes and see if they can beat their record the next time.
Submitted by Mark Manross who is the Executive Editor of PE Central.

4. Behavior - "I like the way Marvin, Jenn, and Crystal are sitting nicely, you may line up. Make sure you walk." Then have 3-4 more go and if all are doing well ask remaining to line up by walking. Of course if there are line leaders then they need to go to the front as they will surely remind you! o "Tommy, Sally, and Mazy would you show us how to walk, keeping your hands to yourself, and form a straight and quiet line at the door." Have them do that and compliment them for doing well if they do what you asked. Then ask the class to copy exactly how they did that. If they do it well, compliment them. If not, have them practice!
Submitted by Mark Manross who is the Executive Editor of PE Central.

5. Exiting Assessment in Line - As students leave the room in a straight and quiet line ask them to tell you one thing they learned about from the lesson that day. For example if you worked on pathways (curved, zig zag, straight) then ask them to tell you a word that describes that movement. You may want them to tell you something that is curved, zig zagged, or straight that they know of in their classroom (i.e., a pencil for straight).
Submitted by Mark Manross who is the Executive Editor of PE Central.

6. Playing - When it is time to line up the teacher says "I see". The students respond in unison "What do you see"? The teacher says "I see all of my students quietly walking to line up on the blue line". After they get in line say "I see" again and tell them you see a perfectly straight and quiet line with hands to themselves.
Submitted by Mark Manross who is the Executive Editor of PE Central.

7. Cool Down Lining Up - After getting them into quiet lines have them spread out a bit so they can do cool down exercises either standing up or laying down. Make sure they are quiet and they do appropriate stretches. Quiet music really helps with this activity.
Submitted by Joselle Edwards who teaches at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania.

8. Secret Student - At the beginning of the class, secretly pick one child in the class to be your "Secret Student" for the day. If this child moves appropriately in line, the whole line "wins". Since the class doesn't know who the secret student is, they are usually motivated to do their best. Recognizing the successful "Secret Student" encourages their positive participation even more. This works especially great when you let the classroom teacher know that the "Secret Student" was very successful, and that that whole class did wonderful. Note: if the "Secret Student" does poorly, it is best not to mention who that student was to the rest of the class. Just letting the class and classroom teacher know they weren't successful this day will make the students who didn't do well think about how they could have helped their classmates in a better way. You can always take this student aside a little later and discuss how their actions hurt themselves and their classmates. This is also a good activity by which to discuss cooperation with the students -- on both the part of the "Secret Student" and those classmates who may get upset and begin to blame a student who they they think was the unsuccessful "Secret Student".
Submitted by Allen Russell who teaches at Columbine Elementary School in Grand Junction, CO.

9. Activities to keep students attention while in line - Sometimes it is easy to get students into line but then it is hard to keep them quiet while they are in line. To accomplish this try these two things:
---As students are standing in line have them make shapes with their bodies like wide or narrow. Alphabet and number shapes work as well. It is best to finish with the number "1" or the letter "I" as then they will be ready to head onto their next destination.
---Have them point to the muscles on their bodies that you have previously reviewed in class (i.e., abdominals, trapezius, etc.).
---Have them point to their eyes, ears, nose, knee, etc. to get their attention off of talking to their neighbor. This is especially good for the younger students.
---As students walk back to their class have them figure out their heart rate.
Submitted by Casey Jones who teaches at Kipps Elementary School in Blacksburg, VA.

10. Numbered Lines (Exiting and Entering) - Paint numbers on the long line of the basketball court. (1-30) In the beginning of the year the students are given their Physical Education number. They are assigned that number usually by last name in alphabetical order. When they come in for class they sit on their number and when class is done they go back to that number and leave in "ready to resume learning" in their classroom. Additionally, the numbers can be used to divide into teams. 1-12 and 13-24 or odd and evens, etc.
Submitted by Kathleen Leadley who teaches at Wilder Elementary School in Green Bay, WI.

11. "Magic L" - I teach physical education to grades 1-3. I've used the "Magic L" to help my children lineup. They know that we don't leave the classroom until everyone has formed an "L" with their left hand. The first day of school we discussed the correct direction an "L" goes...if they do it correctly it will also designate their left hand. Before they can put an "L" up they have to be looking forward, "lips" are closed and ears are "listening. They have also discovered "L" for line and "L" for Lunger, my last name.
Submitted by Jo Lynn Lunger who teaches at Ben Franklin Elementary School in Wichita Falls, TX.

12. Lots of Ideas -
---One way is to ask questions, for example, If you have an older brother, line up, older sister, younger sister, only child, etc.
---Also I use syllables. For example, if your last name has more than three syllables, you may line up and then I work my way down to one.
---I ask about pets and grandparents, cousins (number of, kind, boys/girls, etc.), this also helps you find out a little about your students life and where they are coming from.
---Another way I have them line up is to ask them if their mom, dad or guardian drive a vehicle with more than one window in it. After they figure it out they, of course, all line up but you get some interesting looks and some students really try to figure it out.
Submitted by Cyndi McClure who teaches at Bethel Elementary School in Wynesville, NC.

13. Birthdays - Children line up when their birthday month is called. I use the month we are currently in as the first month called, obviously changing it as we go through the school year, ending with summer birthdays. The last month, called, though is the "I forgot, I don't remember, I don't know" month. I make a point of finding out when those children's birthdays are to help them out next time.
Submitted by: Marion Dmdunk@email-removed

We want more line-up strategies! Please contact us with ideas you didn't see listed. You might just help tons of teachers!