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Lining Up

By Mark Warner
Age Range: 5 to 11

This page gives ideas for getting children lined up quickly and quietly, while also having fun and learning something!


This idea was contributed by Janice C

Have you ever found yourself lining students up for gym (music, art, lunch) a minute or so early?

To fill the minute and practice an important skill, have the students line up in alphabetical order of their last names, their first names, or the second letter of their last names etc.


This idea was contributed by Julie Bolton

When lining up for lunch get the children to count in 10's from any number to 100 and back to zero eg 3, 13, 23 etc. Also try counting in 2's in even numbers and then in odd.


This idea was contributed by Jill Mullaney

When lining children up, ask them to creep as quietly as they can (one member from each table).

They all remain extremely quiet in order to catch the other children out. It is a very good way of lining the children up quietly (and they love playing it!).


This idea was contributed by Becky C

You can reinforce knowledge of adverbs and take a few minutes to line the class up for break, lunch etc by playing adverb exits:

e.g. if your name begins with A, line up anxiously B, boldly C, cautiously etc.

OR Alphabet exits: decide on a category, the children line up as soon as they've given you an example, in alphabetical order:

e.g. Food: avocado, butter, cake, doughnut, egg etc


This idea was contributed by Patti Latkowsky

I like to make my students use their listening skills when lining up, so sometimes I whisper their names or table numbers. Also sometimes I call out the months of the year (not in order), they come when their birthday month is called. Or I use their clothing, "Anyone wearing black socks" or "Anyone wearing long sleeves". I always add something silly like "Anyone wearing skis, or a tophat".


This idea was contributed by Catherine May

For older children lining up, ask them to line up in order of their date of birth, starting with today's date. The challenge is that they have to communicate without talking! They can, of course, do the same with names, height, hair colour, etc.... bear in mind that it might take a few minutes though! A lovely peaceful end to the morning.


This idea was contributed by Kate

This is just a good way of focusing their attention! Chose three (or more!) simple actions and number them ( e.g. 1- hands in the air, 2- wiggling bottoms etc!...). Then say the number (or hold up fingers for a silent version) and make it a competition to do the corresponding action. Build up the number of actions every day and see how many the children can manage.


This idea was contributed by Janet Lashmar

This idea encourages children to line up by listening and observation skills. e.g. someone whose name begins with b (use phonics or letter name). If there is more than one in the class use the second letter etc.

For early years children, use statements such as this person is wearing white socks, a hair bobble. It encourages children to observe in more detail.


This idea was contributed by Suzanne Barnett

A good idea for lining up that I have seen is to sing a song such as 'If you have a p sound, a p sound, a p sound, if you have a p sound come and line up'...

We use the Jolly Phonics Scheme so we reinforce the song with the sound action too. The children are quiet and listening for their sound and the sound of their friends too.


This idea was contributed by Anne Brown

If you have your class in line and they are waiting, an excellent way to keep them quiet is to play Chinese whispers. Whisper something, maybe something to do with the days lesson, into one persons ear at the front or back of the line and see what travels to the other end! Usually a completely new statement!


This idea was contributed by Sonia Smith

I have taught the children in my class their name in sign language. I randomly pick a name and sign it with my hands. If they recognise it, they put their hand up and I let them leave the class. If they don't, I carry on with another name until the whole class is done.


This idea was contributed by Vikki Billing

Whisper a secret to the the first child in the line and ask them to pass the secret whisper to the back of the line. Last time I played this game my original secret 'I have three hamsters' turned into 'I love green peas!' Children love chinese whispers and this game could also be played during circle time.


This idea was contributed by Chiara

A very good way of lining the children up and walking quietly is to take them on a journey. Explain where they are going, what they might see and why they have to be quiet. e.g. They might be going to the jungle and they may wake up some of those wild animals who wont be pleased!!! Ask the children to explore their surroundings using all their senses. This activity can be introduced during a drama session. Children can then report back during any free time during the day. There are many journeys to make and you can also ask the children where they would like to go.


This idea was contributed by Sharon Wright

If you have a house system or teams system in your school, have the children line up according to their group. Award points for the quietest, straightest etc. There is nothing like peer group pressure to get children to line up at bell time!


This idea was contributed by Sue Williams

I have found that mental maths is a good way of occupying children while waiting in a line, and can easily be differentiated to suit the child.


This idea was contributed by N Akram

I have found children enjoy doing mental maths and find this challenging. I tell them i will be doing different mathematical operations depending on the class. They have to carry on doing the sum mentally until i ask for the answer. For example, I say... "start with 5 -double it -add 10- divide it by 2 multiply by 4" etc etc. You vary the number, you can only do addition and subtration using words - add, total, altogether, subtract, etc.........


This idea was contributed by Mayrene Ryan

To save time and inappropriate line behaviour when lining up (such as pushing or arguing who was first) I post the line order. The children line up from shortest to tallest. That way they can more easily see and attend to what is occuring. Since the line order is posted, there is no quibbling about who goes first. Neither do the children complain about their place in line. It's also a valuable management tool for substitute teachers. I still use many of the other methods listed as to excusing the children to go to line but they still get in their line order.

When walking in our hallways, we play a game. Many times teachers leave their room door open so the game we play is an individual one. As each person walks by the open door, s/he is to look inside to see if anyone looks at him/her. If they are spotted, they lose. If no one notices, then they win. So it's possible for the person in front of you to walk by unnoticed but you may be seen! I tell the children that they need to walk by as normally and quietly as possible. Trying to sneak by or run by would attract attention. The children love to do this. I play the game, too!


This idea was contributed by Basil Kupersamy

This works for me...Others saw it and use it in their class and it is now incorporated in the school as a whole. When the teacher wants the children's attention, count back from 5 to 1....in this time they need to proceed to their seats....at 1 they freeze where they are...while those that are seated are frozen...the teacher could direct others to their seats and then when they are all seated and silent...ask them to line up in the same manner....To them its a game, but I get what I WANT!!!


This idea was contributed by Joanna Potter

This never fails to work with my class. I get the two children who are "stars of the day" to line up first and form the beginning of two lines. Then the rest of the class have a lining up competition. The winning line is the line that has been able to line up silently. The winning line then goes out first. My class love this game and they work well together to be first!


This idea was contributed by Amanda

When lining up my class, I use this as 'Thinking Time'. Think of... something that begins with s... the colour red... something that flies... what you're doing at the weekend, etc. And any other combination. The children now come up with their own lists and always ask, "Can we think of something?"


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