Kindergarten Hallway Etiquette-to Sing or not to Sing?


The Question:

How do we teach your kindergarteners to walk in the hall? I have always used chants, poems and songs to teach our students to walk quietly and safely.

Our principal is concerned that the transition ftom K(4-5 year olds) to Pre-1(5-6 year olds) has not been smooth. We’ve been told that we should no longer sing or chant as we walk in the hall (I.e. “keep your fingers on the wall…”).

What are your thoughts or suggestions?

The Answers:


The quiet game works every time! Who can be the quietest?? Girls or boys! A sticker on their behavior chart is awarded after we get back to the classroom. The kids love to play it and they’re the quietest grade in the hall most times.



We use a rhyme that gets us ready for the hall, but then we are silent as we walk. I like to point out myself and our aide as a model. “Do you see us running / skipping / touching / etc.? ~Try to walk just like we are walking.”



A little chant “fingers on our lip, hand on our hip” the finger on their lip gives them the physical reminder to stay quiet. I model it too as we walk. if I hear any noise I stop and turn around and refuse to continue until it is quiet. I also think it’s important to discuss the reasons why we must stay quiet in the hallways. (other students can’t concentrate if we are loud, etc.) they’ll have more ownership in it if they are able to brainstorm some of their own reasons.



I like the chant in the room before you go in the hallway. We use duck tails and bubbles. Put a bubble in your mouth (but breathe through your nose) and a ducktail behind you (hands behind your back). Then close to the end of the year we walk like the first graders. Hands by their side and no bubble but still quiet.



My friend teaches her kinders to walk with their hands behind their backs. Works with the most challenging kids!



We put colored duct tape on each end of the hallway and train them which color to walk on for going going in or out. Also, they put one finger on their lip and the other hand makes a peace sign they hold up, so they are not touching others. (Peace and quiet)



We have class meetings about why we should be quiet in the halls and put “stop” signs at junctions. Adults at the school randomly give quiet lines a ticket for five points (you can get a little class treat like extra recess for 100 points but the kids like the tickets on their own). I find that really going over why we want quiet, safe halls makes a big difference.


 Before we leave the room I say: “feet facing front?” Class responds “check”
“hands at my sides?” “Check”. “I have a bubble?” “Mmm-hmmm” and then we leave. Also, an admin who has issues with developmentally appropriate teaching (like songs for 5-6 year olds) needs to re-evaluate their thinking.

Mary Beth

I had a poem that we said every time we left the room….. :When our hands are at our sides, we’re lined up straight and tall. Mouths are closed, eyes look ahead, then we’re ready for the hall.” I’m concerned about children walking with their hands behind them or in their pockets (like I’ve seen some do). They need the cross body movement of arms and legs walking together.



I teach in a pre-school,daycare, Our age range is from 2 1/2 – 6. Unlike most daycares, we don’t stay in one room all day, and go from room to room for activities. We have an art room, go downstairs for lunch, go to the play room or outside. Now, it totally unrealistic to expect two and three year olds to be totally quiet in the hall. We’re happy if they learn to walk and stay with us;) However our Pre-K1 and our older pre-K (2) rooms we put more effort into it. Some days it’s great, others not so much. The two years before this, I swore, that the Pre-K 2 class could not stop talking no matter what. They just could not turn it off. This year is better, even though there isn’t much change in the methods that teacher uses, just different kids. The children we have really like Jack Hartman’s Peanut Butter lips, marshmallow toes song. The quiet game is marvelous, I tell them it’s my favorite game, so far they haven’t figured out why.



As a principal who is a former K teacher, I love it when I see kids chanting hallway expectations. I used the classic “Our arms are by our sides. We’re standing straight up tall. Our mouths are closed. Our eyes look ahead. And we’re ready for the hall.” Anytime the kids started to lose it we whisper-chanted it in the hallway (always doing the movements with the chant). Maybe your principal would be ok with “thinking and doing” the chant. Kids think the chant while doing the motions as the reminder. Tell your principal that these are proven scaffolds for self-regulation for young kids.



We do hugs and bubbles. They hug themselves and keep a bubble in their mouth. Lots of practice. Reminders all year for those that “forget.”



The architects who designed our school (we moved in 10 yrs. ago) listened to the teachers. We are fortunate to have octagon shaped tiles at every intersection so our line leader always knows when to stop. Floor tiles (for walking in straight lines) are a different color than the rest of the flooring and run down both sides of the hallways. Helps the children stay in a fairly straight line. We LOVE our day porter and I tell the children that Mr. “D” has to stay late and clean our walls if we put fingerprints all over them. They want Mr. D to be able to go home and eat supper with his family and not have to stay late to scrub our messes… Maybe a tiny fib, but hope it develops empathy for those people who help us and clean up after us everyday. We sing the hallway song to tune of Gilligan’s Island theme.



Before we leave the room, we whisper sing, “I’m giving myself a great big hug, I’m standing straight and tall, I’m looking right ahead of me, I’m ready for the hall”. Then we put in bubbles. I give the choice of hands behind backs or in pockets as we get older. No problems here:)



The one that has somehow worked for us after trying multiple old stand-bys: “Peace and Quiet”…one hand making the peace sign, other hand finger over lips. I don’t remember where/who I stole it from…



We use “Hips and lips” so one hand is on their hip and the other is showing the quiet sign over their lips. It works great!! 



I find that with my class, it works really well to tell them why we expect them to act a certain way in the halls. I tell my kids that when they are loud in the hallway, it disrupts other classrooms from learning, etc.



Your principal is an idiot



Why aren’t the pre-1 kids singing?? I hope they don’t stop you. Our entire K-8 school sings in the halls. It’s magical.



We have H A L L rules that we follow!

H- hands behind your back, A- all eyes forward, L- lips are sealed with a bubble, L- legs are walking safely! When they follow these rules each child could receive a green ticket that is placed in drawing for a prize each Friday. It works great! We also have a school wide rule that we follow. Stallion STRONG. Which means… Show respect, Teamwork, a responsibility, Outstanding character, Never give up and make Good choices!



This is all crazy. Just tell them to walk down the hall.



Your principal needs to learn child development.



Whatever it takes. But this ol’ music teacher knows that call-and-response singing/chanting engages kids like no other. So do simple songs anybody can (almost) sing.



 I have a “scout” each day, whose job is to pass out “rewards” to the two best in line. I ask them to justify why they gave a certain someone the award. The kids respond well and the scout learns to justify their choices. I’m also concerned about your principal’s rationale behind the smoothness of that transition. Maybe you could send a few articles their way about the importance of rhyme, chant, music and movement in primary development.



So who is saying, “We should no longer sing or chant as we walk in the hall”? If it is indeed the principal, this adds to a growing list of silly expectations from people who are living in a world detached from the reality and needs of childhood. I would love to know what the answer would be if someone asked “Why?”



It’s time we start pushing back up and educate more people what is developmentally appropriate.



Tell your principal to take some child development classes.



 Omg. I may be looking for a new job.  I meant if I worked for someone who told me hallway singing was wrong for K!!!






We used to do “Hips & Lips” when in the hallways. We had one of the old 70’s open concept schools, so we had to be quiet while walking past other classes. 



We have a habit of scholarship, “I will walk in line without talking” and we explain they can put a magic bubble in their mouth. It is important to walk in line so as to not disturb other classes or during testing or a fire/tornado/any kind of drill



The principal is in the wrong profession!



Your principal needs to learn DAP. Seriously.

 I used to do the chant put your finger on the wall, but it was difficult to change when they went to kindergarten. I know do:
My arms are in a hug
There’s a bubble in my mouth
My eyes are looking forward
I’m ready to go out


We walk with “a hug and a bubble”. It works pretty well, for the most part.



My goodness….does the admin just want to take ALL the joy out of kindergarten? Seriously….This is just ridiculous! They are little children! Let them sing and chant!



We walk with bumpers (arms crossed on chest) and marshmallows in mouth . We can’t sing Because intervention teachers, paras work in halls with students



You’ve got to teach those little ones respect for all the other people in their surroundings. Some times singing may be appropriate and other times not. It has nothing to do with developmentally appropriate. Set your expectations before you leave your room and the kids will follow them.



Before we leave the classroom, I used to remind them of the rules: left hand on your sides and right index finger on your lips. No rules, no recess!


2 thoughts on “Kindergarten Hallway Etiquette-to Sing or not to Sing?

  1. Hands behind the back is so unsafe. When a person trips and falls the natural inclination is to put your hands in front of you in order to catch yourself. I’ve seen to many children face plant. Our PT has spoken with our Pre-K and K classes on multiple occasions about duck tails and hands behind back. Students with coordination and balance issues should never be made to do this.

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