Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quick Tip: Waiting Lists

When we have a popular activity, we use a waiting list. Our waiting list is usually a simple scrap of paper taped or posted near the activity.

We add names to the list or kids print their own names. Then they can go do other things. When a child's name is next on the list, I go to him and tell him it's his turn. He has the option to take his turn or continue whatever else he is doing.

We line through names as kids take their turns. A child who doesn't want to take his turn is move to the end of the list for a later turn.

If an activity is really popular, we will continue the activity for the next week, and keep the waiting list, too. Kids at the top of the list are first the next time.

In addition to keeping things orderly, waiting lists help build literacy. Kids begin to recognize their names and the names of their friends. They also see writing used in a practical way, part of understanding how reading and writing work in the world.


  1. Great for building literacy Scott - it helps them see that print is useful and quite powerful I think. We get our kids to sign up for things like going on a bushwalk. Even the little 3's can make a mark.

  2. Hi Scott,
    We use a waiting list too for things like the computer and we do a helper of the day and it lets the children know how many more days until their day.

    For our list we have a clothes pin with an arrow glued to it. We attach the clothes pin to the side of our list with the arrow pointing towards the names and the children move the arrow down the list. For the computer if you are next but don't want to do the computer, you just move the arrow down to the next person and let them know it is their turn.

    I like the idea of scratching the name off too. I think I will try this for other areas so the children can see different methods of making and tracking a list.

  3. Our waiting lists tend to be a teacher references. I like the idea of putting them into the hands of the kids. Not only do they teach literacy, but they also teach about fairness! =)

  4. Waiting lists are a really good idea Scott. Not only do they encourage literacy and turn taking but we find the children are more inclined to participate in an activity with a waiting list because they love to write their names on lists ... they know they WILL get a turn ... they can go and play elsewhere instead of standing in line and most importantly the adults don't have to be responsible for who's turn it is next. Long live the waiting list!
    Donna :) :)

  5. Donna, you hit on the main reason I use waiting lists. Now I'm not responsible for remembering who is next!