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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Things to do While Students are Waiting in Line

For one reason or another, I often find myself with a class ready to transition to the next teacher, but with that next teacher nowhere in sight. What do you do when that happens? It can be difficult to keep students quiet and orderly while standing in line, but ready for the next teacher whenever they arrive. I've used different ideas over the years but here are my current favorites.

I used to do more singing and body percussion when I was waiting with a class, but in my current school, because of the location of my classroom and where we usually line up, we have to stay pretty quiet in line to avoid disrupting other classes. All of the ideas below are ones that can be done silently.

1. Mirroring

This is probably the simplest but also the most effective for all ages. I hold up my hand from the front of the line and tell them to mirror me. Depending on how well the students can see me at the back, I will either just do slow movements with my hands, held above me head, or (if they can see me) include my head/face/shoulders in the movements as well. I start off with simple movements, like counting on my fingers from 1 to 5, or clenching and unclenching my fist. Once they get the idea, are quiet and focused, and are just starting to think this might be too boring, I start throwing in some challenges: holding my pinky with my other fingers, moving only one finger, etc (this is admittedly a little easier for me because I'm double jointed!). I also use some silly motions, like the spiderman hand (when he is shooting spiderweb stuff out of his wrist), or pretending to pick my nose.

2. Silent Singing

If you've recently done a song in class with hand motions, start mouthing the words while doing the motions and have students do it with you! Not only do you get to review the song, but it's good steady beat practice and it's pretty hilarious. With older students it's even fun to bring back some of their favorites from kindergarten and 1st grade. Their faces light up when they recognize the song (and then I have to remind them not to sing out loud)!

3. Addition Game

This one has nothing to do with music but it is another option that works well and gives them some practice on their math facts (which no administrator or homeroom teacher will ever complain about!). I tell them I am going to hold up a certain number of fingers, and they have to hold up the number of fingers needed to add up to 5 (or 10). This is especially mind-stretching if you do it after the mirroring activity :)

I hope you found at least one new idea here to add to your "bag of tricks"! What are your favorite things to do when you'r stuck waiting in line?

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  1. Love these ideas. I used to do silent singing sometimes too, especially when my door was open and there were students working in the lunch room. The kids always got a laugh out of it when their teacher came to get them and didn't know what was going on :)

  2. We practice pianissimo singing. They LOVE it—even 5ths.

  3. Rhythm poison ‘out’ kids take a knee, once they get how to play, I have a student lead. They never got sick of it last year at my one school.
    The book 123 Echo Me has many short question -answer songs, I always thought some of those would be good, but poison won every time.

    My other school I seem to walk everyone to lunch or dismissal so it’s rare we wait anymore.

    1. That's awesome when you can get the students leading it too!! Love this idea.