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20 Lineup Teaching Strategies

Janelle Cox

Any elementary teacher can attest that getting his or her students to line up quietly is quite a daunting task -- especially when you have to pick students up from a special assembly or lunch. You may use some creative teaching strategies, like having students line up by clothing color, or if they are wearing sneakers or dress shoes.

Most of us do this because we know that it will get their attention and keep them quiet, at least for a little while. If you’re looking for a fresh new idea, then these 20 lineup teaching strategies will definitely give you some ideas. After scouring the internet, and asking a few fellow educators, these are what I found to be the best teaching strategies for lineups.

1. Play the freeze game. All students must make their way to the line and do just as the teacher does. When the teacher says “Freeze,” anyone who is out of the line must go to the back of the line. Another way to play this is by using another language like Spanish or French. This way students are learning new words as they line up.

2. Have students stand in a straight line one behind the other. Then take a photograph of the students and laminate it. Next, attach the picture to a stick and every time you hold up the picture, the students know what is expected of them.

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3. Choose a “Mystery Walker” each day. Every morning before you start your day, choose one student to be the mystery walker. This person must have used good hallway etiquette every time you walked to and from the classroom. This mystery person gets a special treat from the prize box. The great part about this is that all students need to walk nicely because they never know who is going to get picked the next morning.

4. Create a job for a few of the students in the line. For example, every day or week one of the students’ jobs is to be the line leader, another the caboose, and a third the door holder. You can also have a job as the “Tapper.” This person looks out for students not behaving in line or standing out of the line and gently taps on them on the shoulder. When a student gets tapped on the shoulder, they must go to the end of the line. This way you don’t leave the room or the hallway until the line is in order.

5. Students love to pretend they are ninjas. Tell students that ninjas are quiet, disciplined, and very hard to be detected. Then, as students are walking in the hallway, pretend that no one can see them because they are like stealth warriors. Young students will love this concept and you will find that children are very eager to line up when they know that they get to be a ninja!

6. When it’s time to line up, try correlating your action with whatever holiday is near. For example, if it’s February, then you would make a heart with your hands for Valentine’s Day. Students when copy you as they get into line.

7. Have students line up in alphabetical order. Practice this in the beginning of the school year and you will find lineup time will be a breeze.

8. Assign each student a number. When it’s time to line up, students must quietly get in line according to that number. Eventually students will know their spot and you will see that there will be no rushing or cutting in line.

9. Say a fun chant or rhyme such as “I put my hands to my side and I'm standing straight and tall, my eyes are right in front of me I'm ready for the hall.” Or “Hands on hips, zip up lips, standing tall, ready for the hall.”

10. Have students pretend they are soldiers. Explain to students that soldiers stand up tall with their hands to the sides and their lips are zipped. Students then quietly march from place to place.

11. Put students into line by various categories. Here are some ideas: Shirt color, hair color, eye color, pets, siblings, birth order, favorite sport, favorite ice cream flavor, birthday month, etc.

12. Create a class marble jar. If all students work together to line up quietly and remain quiet in the hallway, then the class gets ten marbles in the jar. Once the jar is filled to the top, the class gets a special treat.

13. Call students up by using any of the ideas or categories listed above. Then, tell students that they are responsible for the person in front of them. They will be so busy watching the person in front of them they won’t have any time to misbehave in line.

14. If you have a lot of time on your hands then you can make a game out of lining up. For example, say, “I’m thinking of person who is wearing glasses.” Then anyone who is wearing glasses would stand up. Then you would say “I’m thinking of a person who is wearing glasses and has on a pink shirt.” This continues until one person is left standing and then they line up. The more specific you get the faster it is to line up. The kids love it!

15. Use Popsicle sticks to draw daily numbers to see the order of how students will line up.

16. Every day, post a different lineup order on the front board. Students come into class and look at the order each day so they know what to do when it’s time to line up. This is a good way to teach them responsibility.

17. For those of you that do not like the idea of students walking like ducks in a row, just simply prepare students for the real world by explaining to them your expectations. Tell them you expect them to enter and exit each place calmly and quietly.

18. Have students line up boy, girl, boy, girl.

19. Set a timer and challenge students to line up quickly and quietly in the order that you chose.

20. Give compliment points. Each time another teacher compliments how well behaved the students are in the hallway or lining up the class gets a point. Once they get 10 points, they win extra free time.

Do you have any fun lineup strategies that work for your class?

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master’s of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to, and Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at

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