I teach 3 and 4 year old special needs students in a fully self-contained class, and love it. The never-a-dull-moment, always-on-the job pace continues to energize, mesmerize and challenge me. After 17 years, I’ve come to believe that children this age are magnetic, to other children in particular. Consequently having routines that work is essential to providing a pleasant environment for optimal learning.
One thing that I’ve established to help ease transitions in my class is our lineup routine. It’s important that the students have a unique place to be. On the floor near the door, I’ve set up a line up area using large (5”x8”), different colored shapes for the students to stand on. I’ve taped the side of the shapes line up area with red on the right and blue on the left as a way to work on those directional concepts. We chant: “My blue hand is my left hand, A...N....D...., switch, my red one is my right.” (drawing out “and” and “switch” adds a giggle factor) Each shape corresponds to a number in the numbered squares I painted on the sidewalk outside my class.
I have a Line-Up chart on my door with the weekly assigned shape and number for each student to stand on when lining up, each position corresponding to the child’s job for the week. It’s great to see the independent problem solving of students checking the chart to verify his/her shape/number, or to point out that someone is in his/her spot. (The laminating machine and lamination pouches I received via a Donors Choose project were perfect for setting up the chart and protecting the shapes that get a lot of foot traffic.) We use this system throughout the day so the children are exposed, just as a matter of course, to colors, shapes and numbers. The children’s understanding of these concepts can also be quickly assessed through various “stand on the …” games.
My class size generally ranges from 6-8 students, and I have a daily job for each student. We don’t have plants to water or animals to feed, so I have assigned:
Once everyone in on his/her shape, we chant a rhyme, echoing back each phrase “army style” (I taught on an US Army post for 12 years).
“Standing in line is easy to do.” (Marching feet)
“When you take care of only you.” (Marching feet)
“Feet are forward, hands to your side.” (Stand, stretch arms out and lower to sides)
“Lips are closed.” (Motion to zip lips)
“We walk with pride.” (Sign “walk” and “pride”)
This catchy chant prompts the not-quite-ready students to finish up and join in the line without the need for prodding and a lot of attention on my part. Of course, sometimes I add, “Let’s see who is lined up and ready to pick a tricycle to ride to lunch.” (Thanks to my first DC project, I was able to add an 8th tricycle to our fleet. Now there is one for every child to ride. And ride we do, all over campus. It’s great fun!)
Share a routine that works for you.