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Name of Activity:

Lining Up Strategies

Purpose of Activity:

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:


Materials Needed:

Lining Up Strategies in PDF form by Karen Bagby

Description of Idea

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 dayshows the need for instructional protocols which positively encourage andmotivate 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. If you have a favorite "lining up" protocol, we encourage you to submit them to

Lining Up Strategies (PDF) by Karen Bagby

1. Ten Hut

When the kids are lining up to leave physical education class, I tell them if they are quick and quiet, they will get to play 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.
  • Ask students line up according to eye color. "Those who have hazel eyes can line up now", etc.
  • Ask students to line up according to hair color (i.e., brown, red, blonde, etc.)

Submitted by Mark Manross who is the Executive Director 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 Director 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!

  • "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 Director 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 Director of PE Central.

6. Playing "I See"

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 Director 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.

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, trapezious, 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 from 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.ÊAfter 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.

14. Boy-Girl

I have my first graders line up in a boy-girl pattern. The leader of the day, of course, is in the front, and the rest of the students know that if a girl is in the front, a boy will be next, and so on. This corresponds with our Math assessment where I teach AB patterns. Of course, a class could line up in an AABB pattern as well.

Submitted by Lynn K. Saintsing who teaches at Hasty Elementary School in Thomasville, NC.

15. Sports Skill Highlights

After children are finished with PE class and they are in line waiting for their teacher, I give them a chance to share their Sports Skill Highlight of the day! This allows me to see what they learned during the day and is a nice closure. For example, they are allowed to tell their skill of the day, such as, "I punted the ball a long way!", "I stepped with the opposite foot when I threw the ball at the target", "I threw a perfect spiral pass to my partner!", etc. If children worked together that day they are encouraged to present their highlight together. Any child can volunteer to give their sports highlight of the day.

In addition to being a nice closure, it allows children to practice speaking in a clear and concise manner. I expect the other children to listen quietly as their classmates tell what they did or learned that day.

Sometimes it is a nice idea to let children act out what they did or learned so they are not allowed to speak. They must use slow motion replay to see if the rest of kids can guess what they did. This is a nice way to let non verbal children participate as well.

Submitted by Heide Barcalow who teaches at Edgewater Public School in Edgewater, FL.

16. Tap Off

At the end of class when it is time to dismiss and line up I say "Ready for Tap Off"? Their task is to get in line quickly and put their right hand on the shoulder of the student in front of them, with their arm outstretched straight, and then put their left hand over their mouth. When I see that they are ready I call "Tap Off" and they count 1, 2. On 1 they bring their right down from the shoulder in front of them, and on 2 they take their hand off their mouths. This ensures spacing in line, getting quiet, and it gives them something to do while waiting to be dismissed.

Submitted by Ranae Pollicino who teaches at Walter Hill Elementary School in Swedesboro, NJ.

17. Sign Language Song

After the students line up for dismissal we do a short sign language song. First we do the movements and sing the song, and then we do it silently just mouthing the words. This has worked well with my K-2 students. We do the following song.

"Friends, friends, all my friends are here with me."

I had a teacher that knows sign language teach me the movements.

Submitted by Ranae Pollicino who teaches at Walter Hill Elementary School in Swedesboro, NJ.

18. Give me Five...

Students coming to or leaving the physical education class are sometimes a bit hyper and excited. To get their attention and to calm them down, we ask them to "give me three, give me one, give me four, etc.". We expect them to clap their hands according to the number called out. This gets their attention quickly and the noise stops abruptly. We then continue to give further instructions by telling them that "Now that I have your attention, I need you to listen to the following instructions.

Submitted by Ken Dyson.

19. The HALL Song

This is a cool song that the first grade teacher and I use at my school for getting kids lined up and ready to go.

"My hands are hanging by my side, I'm standing straight and tall.

My eyes are looking straight ahead, I'm ready for the HALL."

When you say HALL, all children should be quiet and lined up and ready to leave the room. After doing this a few times with the kids they sing it along with you.

Submitted by Val Shuknecht.

20. Letter Line Up

After P.E. class is over and it is time to line up and dismiss, I have the students sit either in personal space or on a circle on the gym floor. To begin, have students look at the shirts they are wearing. I then tell them if their shirt has any writing (letters or numbers on it) they may line up. This works well for kindergartners. For 1st and 2nd grade, I ask for specific letters. If they are wearing something that does not have letters, then I have
them continue lining up by the different shapes that they can find on their shoes or clothing.

Submitted by Judy Gustafson who teaches at Wingate Elementary School in Grand Junction, CO.

21. Invisible Paint

Once the children (K-2 aged is best for this) are lined up in a quiet line, tell the students you are going to paint them with the Magic Paint. Move from the front of the line to the back, moving your hand in a painting motion. Once they are painted they become invisible and they can't be seen or heard! They love this, they ask what color the paint is! I usually look at the dominate color being worn on their clothes and make that the color paint of the day! If someone talks or moves out of line they lose their paint and their "paint pts" for the day! Each class can earn a # of paint pts.

Submitted by a PE teacher in Buffalo, NY.

22. Follow the Teacher

This technique has helped me cut down on the problems I have had in the past with students not staying in line or pushing classmates while traveling or standing in line. While walking to the field or gym I lead the line. Tell the students to watch you're hands and do what I do. Be creative by putting your hands on head, shoulders, knees,
hips, ears, etc. You can even do locomotor movements in line. Most students are too busy watching the teacher to get themselves in trouble.

Submitted by Michael Spohn who teaches at Belchertown Public Schools in Belchertown, MA.

23. Quiet Mice

Choose one girl and one boy to be mice. These two quiet mice walk around the other students that are sitting in a straight line and look for the person who is sitting quietly, on the line, good posture, and facing the front. Once these students find two other students doing this they tap them on the shoulder and take their spot on the floor and now their are two new quiet mice. This activity works and the students can't wait to get their school shoes on and get in line facing the exit door.

Submitted by Beth Wieck who teaches at the Overbrook School in Nashville, TN.

Activity #6 was taken from the book entitled Children Moving: A Reflective Approach to Teaching Physical Education authored by George Graham, Shirley Holt/Hale, and Melissa Parker. McGraw Hill Publishing has granted exclusive permission to PE Central to reprint this activity. Further reproduction of this task is strictly prohibited unless permission is obtained from McGraw Hill Publishers. To order the book or to seek permission call McGraw Hill Publishers.

Submitted by Mark Manross in Blacksburg, VA. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 2/17/2015.
Viewed 168022 times since 5/22/2012.

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Lining Up Strategies

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