Have you seen the “line starts here” signs when you are out and about doing your holiday shopping? The sign also has an arrow to make it crystal clear where you are expected to stand in line to wait your turn. Yet, how many times have you had it happen that either someone walks up to the cash register (bypassing the line altogether) or they come and stand next to you in line, Not BEHIND you, but NEXT to you? Is this something that’s happening all across America or is it just in my little corner of the world?
After this has happened too many times to count lately, I began thinking about the whole lining up topic. I went to kindergarten a really long time ago and let me tell you, “back in the day” as they say on Pawn Stars, even kindergarteners were taught how to line up AND even walk in a straight line. When I first began teaching, the school that I was at had such high expectations about the way we lined up our students, that they put a line on the floor that ran down each side of the hallway. Students were taught to put a foot on each side of the line. I had 32 first graders, yet I somehow managed to teach those 6 years how to line up and walk in a straight line. Why is this such a difficult concept for adults at a mall when the store has given such clear directions? Are teachers no longer expecting students to line up and walk in a line?
Here are a few tips I thought I’d pass along. I would love to hear your ideas, too.
One of the best ways I found to line up students is in number order. Each student is assigned a number at the beginning of the year. It’s their order for lining up. Each week there is a line leader and caboose so there are 2 students who aren’t in the correct order. This stops all of the “he’s cutting in line” complaints that you normally hear. Initially students may complain about the order. Once they figure out that everyone will eventually be the line leader and everyone will eventually be the caboose, they don’t complain about the fact that #2 is always closer to the front of the line than #18. It is much easier to see if you are missing students when you pick them up from recess using this system. Your students will have the line order memorized before you will, so they will quickly tell you who is missing. We don’t line up in number order to walk to our spots for the fire drill. But, once we are outside, we get in our proper order so we can see if anyone is missing.
You can add a little math when you line up your students if you tape numbers on the floor. This shows students where they are going to stand. Add a seasonal touch by changing the numbers each season. In the fall use orange / yellow, in the winter use red / green, in the spring use pink / red, and at the end of the year use orange / green. Sometimes I use one color for each number. Example: in December all of the odd numbers would be red and all of the even numbers would be green. When lining up ask students with an odd number to line up first. Your students will quickly learn odd and even numbers. Another example: in February, make all of the numbers in the ones place red and all the numbers in the tens place pink. When lining up you can give different problems like: *If your number has an odd number in the tens place, you may line up. *If your number in the ones place is equal to 3 + 4, you may line up. Your students will quickly become mental math wizards!