3 Tricks to Get Your Students Lined Up Quietly

One of the most chaotic times in an art teacher’s day is the clean up/ line up time. No matter how crazy class was, it’s still important to get students calmed down, quiet, and ready for the hallway.  The last thing art teachers need is the embarrassment that happens when a teacher comes to pick up their class, and the classroom is out of control. This is not sending a very professional message. Plus there’s your sanity to take into consideration. By developing strategies that WORK for lining up, you will hopefully have more time for art making and a little more peace in your day. Watch this video for three of my favorite tricks to get students in line quietly.

Although most of these ideas are geared more to the Elementary folk, it can be surprising what Middle and High Schoolers will go for. You just never know! Perhaps you also may be interested in a non-verbal cue to line up your class that is appropriate for all age levels.  Check out this article for more details.

What other fun and effective Line Up tricks to you have? 

Secondary folks, what is the key to calming your students down at the end of art class? 


6 years ago

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Penderleart

    OK. I guess I’m first:)  I am not a singer so.  I have done this for years and it works for me.  I have a student helper that lines tables up at the end of class when we are at the point of needing to go.  When this happens the students are sitting with their heads down, quietly.  The helper student calls the table that is sitting quietly, they push in their chairs and line up quietly.  If they are loud in the line I make them sit back down and try again.  Usually doesn’t happen much.  Hope that made sense?-Doug

    • Yep, I like it. It’s great when the students can call the tables.

  • erica

    My FAVORITE strategy that I have been doing is keeping my expectations extremely high. I first make sure the students are calm and ready to line up at their seat. I will make sure they are always ready to line up BEFORE I send them to line. When their table is doing what I expect, I say their table color. Sometimes I throw in a compliment, “Jose, I could take you anywhere! I love how you politely let Genesis pass.” or “I don’t even have to ask and you picked up that paper from the floor on your way to line, your mom must be so spoiled to have a kid like you helping her!” I am really cheesy with my compliments. If a kid rushes or talks, then we practice again until it’s done right. I know this sounds harsh, but it has made my classes so much smoother. After a few practices, even the rowdiest classes know what I expect. It is amazing how they can conform to your expectations if you stick to them and really don’t except less. The littlest kids I try to whisper most of my directions to. Keeping my energy calm seems to set the tone. 

  • Novak Amanda

    I do the same as the people have spoke about so far.  Kids have to be ready in their chairs BEFORE we line up.  Then one table at a time lines up – if they are loud they go back and get re-ready at their seats.  If one kid is not ready in line they go back to their chair as well. 

    Once the kids are in line sometimes we wait for the teacher for a bit – sometimes cause we line up early, sometimes because the ‘clocks are different’ (though they manage to come on time?!), or that the teacher simply lost track of the time.  Okay, back to being in line, the students generally play a really cheesy game – they LOVE it, even my 5th graders beg to be the one to start it off.   I call in quiet giraffe, though in my old building we called it quite mouse, which is where  I learned it.

    I pick a student that is doing their job in line: facing forward, voice off, body ready for the hall.  I pick that student and the step out of line and look for the next student ready.  When they pick the next ready student they return to their spot in line.  This continues until the teacher arrives.  Something about being picked by a peer has way more weight that if I do it over and over.  Sometimes kids complain about not being picked, but often I can tell them that twirling in circles in line is not being ready – or that whispering isn’t being ready… etc.   For whatever reason kids LOVE this game.  I don’t get it.  It is almost as lame as the “quiet game”, but the kids really stand in line silent to play.

    • Great to see you’ve found something that actually works, which is half the battle!

  • Try the line game.  While they’re in line, you can say something true or false.  (something about how great artists behave or embed some technique you learned that day)  If it’s true, you should see a straight line.  If it’s false, students should make it look like a blob but still keep one foot on the original line.  Make the last comment a true statement and they’re ready to go!

    • Julia Thomas


  • Kellie Determan

    I’ve incorporated a couple of suggestions from you Jessica and one I learned from a 2nd grade teacher. All students have to be silent at their tables before I will give directions about lining up. 5th & 4th respond well to praise and the ‘when I say go…(insert direction)’,  I sometimes hold up a unknown piece of artwork and ask them to describe what they see using their vocabulary words and or elements or principles in full sentences. This has been an informative evaluation process while lining up. 3rd, 2nd and kinders like ‘the silent game’.  Heads are down, eyes are hidden and I choose a couple of ‘pickers’. Each student who gets tapped gets to then tap another ‘silent’ student and then get in line. The change up is sometimes I call for a ‘random act of kindness’. In that line up game, the picker has to choose another student who thinks isn’t their friend. They really like either version. I some times call line up by table and ask for a creative way to get into line such as: ‘Table 4 please start the line by tip-toeing silently(high stepping, leap frogging, penguin walking, backwards marching, and the two favorites zombie walk and stealth ninjas into line. This variety seems to work for me and hopefully they can help someone else too! ~Kellie

    • I am glad you mentioned variety, Kellie! The key is to have enough options so students do not feel bored, but few enough options that lining up is still routine and something they can remember from week to week. Thank you for sharing these ideas.

  • Hannah Welsh

    When I taught high school, I taught from the beginning that they could not leave until they heard me say the phrase, “I’ll see you next time.” I would not say the phrase until everything was put away, they were in their seats, quiet, HOLDING what they were taking with them (this was a big one, if I wanted to be left with clear tabletops), and all eyes on me. I taught and stuck to this, and it worked quite well.

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