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Musical Things to Do While Waiting in Line

For one reason or another, I often find myself waiting with students in a line.  It can be challenging to keep them quiet because let's face it...standing in line is boring!  Here are a few musical things to do while waiting in line.

Steady Beat Follow Me
This quiet game is easy and engaging.  Lead students to keep the steady beat with you, but challenge them to stop on exactly the same beat you do.  To be successful, students have to watch closely and remain quiet.  I tap my head, chin, arms, stomach, knees and nose.  I clap with two fingers or snap.  I nod or shrug my shoulders to the beat and whatever else I can think of that makes no sound or very little sound.

As students are following me, I freeze occasionally.  If they are watching closely, they can freeze on the same beat that I do.  Vary the tempo to keep it interesting.

Snap on This Beat
As students are waiting in line I'll ask them to listen to me count a steady beat and snap only on the even numbers. 
|: 12345678 :|

When they have established that rhythm, I'll switch it up.  I'll have them snap on the odd numbers, on 1, 4, 5 and 8 or any combination.  Occasionally when I walk a class back to their room we will do this.  It makes me feel like I'm on West Side Story.

Silent Singing
This is great activity to use when you are working on memorizing songs.  As students are waiting in line, I'll silently conduct one of the songs we are working on.  Every line or two I will stop and either ask them what word comes next or have them change from silent singing to whisper singing.

After I have modeled this a few times, I choose student leaders to conduct silent singing.  They love the challenge and pick up on it easily.

What's in My Pocket
This is a silly game, but the kids love it!  Before we line up, I'll slip something into my pocket.  My kids know that my desk drawers are treasure chests of weird and wonderful things so I could be putting almost anything in my pocket.

Students may ask yes/no questions one at a time by raising their hand and being called on.  I try to keep the items musical or related to music.  Some great items to slip in your pocket:  a small metrenome, tuning whistle, a reed, whistle, egg shaker, triangle striker, castanets, a small slide whistle, a recorder belt, guitar pick, or mini maracas.

Okay, this isn't the most musical activity but since I rarely find time to practice spelling during class I use this line game to do just that.  Usually when you play Sparkle, you stand in a circle but it works in a line too.  I say an instrument name, musical term or name of a composer.  The first student in line gives the first letter, the second student the second and so on.  If someone gets it wrong, we start over with the next person.  The goal is to spell enough words correctly that we make it through the entire line.  Traditionally, Sparkle is an elimination game but I keep everyone in and participating.

I also use this Sparkle technique to work on memorizing songs in line.  The first student says or sings the first word of the song, the second student says or sings the second word and so on.  The challenge is to get all the way through one song without having to restart.

Do you have games or activities that you use while students are waiting in line to keep them learning and engaged?  Feel free to share them in the comments.

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