At the beginning of the year, lining up in Kindergarten can feel a bit like herding cats. How to I teach my kindergarteners to line up without running, pushing, or complaining about where they are in line?
Well, believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
There is one classroom management trick that I use every single year to teaching lining up procedures and transitions in Kindergarten.
Not only does this trick work wonders for lining up in Kindergarten, but it is also great for transitioning from tables to carpet or activity to activity.
Best of all? This classroom management trick requires zero prep from you!
It’s As Easy as 1-2-3!
I teach my kindergartens to line up using this procedure on day three of school, AFTER they have already learn and practiced our procedures for walking in line and the hallway.
Why wait? I don’t want to overload my Kindergarteners’ brains with new information. Once they have started to establish a routine for walking in line, they are ready to begin learning prcoedures for lining up and transitions.
The way I teach lining up in Kindergarten goes like this:
First, I call one student to show us how to stand in line. They are our line leader. This just helps prevent racing to the line to be first, and give students a chance to review procedures.
Then, I hold up one finger and say, “One – get your body ready.” This means that they get into listening position, whether that is sitting criss cross or still at their seat, and look at me with a bubble in their mouth. This helps students get their brain ready for transitioning.
Next, I hold up two fingers and say, “Two – stand like a statue.” Students stand up right where they are with their hands at their side. They can’t take any steps because, remember, statues don’t move!
Last, I hold up three fingers and say, “Three – line up (or walk) safely.” Students walk carefully to the line (or the carpet if we are transitioning from tables to carpet).
But What If Students Don’t Follow the Procedures?
First, we practice our procedure for lining up in Kindergarten A LOT. I try to make it fun and have a funny reaction if we need to try again, but I have high expectations and I expect my students to do this correctly.
If you practice several times with some students moving when they stand up or a few students taking forever to stand, then that is the precedent you are setting for your transitions.
When I see students not doing their best, I say, “That was so good, but I think we can do better. Remember, we want to be the best lining up experts ever. Let’s try it again.”
And when students do the procedure correctly, I tell them what they did right and let them know how amazing they did!
To help with the transition from the carpet to lining up:
I have a set path that they need to follow in the classroom to get to the line. This ensures that no one is running or cutting to get in front. If students go a different way to get to the line faster, they have to come back to the carpet and try again.
Since everyone is walking, students know that they should be following the people in front of them. If they are racing to try to be in front, they get to come back to the carpet and try again.
I know I keep saying this, but it’s worth repeating – this will take practice! Students will forget. They will try to test boundaries. That is completely normal! Stay positive and practice, practice, practice.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are my most frequently asked questions about how to teach students to line up in Kindergarten.
Do you have a line order for you students?
No, I don’t have a line order for my students. I know that having a line order is helpful for some teachers, but I cannot keep track of that. I would rather spend my time elsewhere. Just a personal preference!
What if students get to the line, but then they are talking or touching or super wiggly?
Then we come back and try it again! We come back to the carpet and I ask them what happened and what we can do this time to fix it. Learning prcoedures in Kindergarten will take a lot of patience and practice, and sometimes students will forget or try to test boundaries. It’s important to be firm in your expectations up front or you will spend more time revisiting those expectations later on.
Do you always use the words when transitioning?
No, once we establish a procedure for lining up or transitioning in Kindergarten, I tell my students that we are going to try just the visuals. I only hold up my fingers 1-2-3 and students know each step.
What if you have students visiting your classroom?
I have found that students are able to pick up on this routine for lining up very quickly, especially if they see other students doing it. I have students who come to my room for dismissal, and students who come to my room once a month for community building. They are able to pick up on the routine and follow it right away!
Teaching students how to line up in Kindergarten doesn’t have to be a pain! With this one classroom management trick, lining up in Kindergarten can become the easiest part of your day.
I’ve put together a free pack to practice lining up in Kindergarten, which includes the classroom routines and procedures visuals as well as no prep printables:
Grab the How To Line Up Classroom Procedures Pack here!
This procedure is just one of the prcoedures taught in my First Week of Kindergarten pack. This unit includes an entire week of lesson plans to help you teach all of the procedures and expectations needed for a successful year in Kindergarten.
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