1. I bought blue masking tape, and put a line down the middle of the room from where I sit (here's a picture of my normal storytime set up).
|Magic Blue Line!
3. Then I got up, and demonstrated walking to the end of the line and following the line all the way to the front. Kids immediately started following me, so we went around a few times, emphasizing, "You start at the end of the line, and follow it all the way to the front--keep your feet on the blue line! That's how you line up."
4. Then I sat back down, and had the kid right in front of me stop, "Now you're all in a line!" Then I brought out my puppet and let each kid touch/hug the puppet and go sit back down. Kids who ran up to the front were gently told that they needed go to the beginning of the blue line--and most of them did!
5. Finally, at the end of storytime, I cut out our closing song (I'll add it back again eventually) since it's a trigger for the mob to surge forward. Instead, I just said, "Ok, now I need everybody to go to the end of the blue line and follow it all the way to the front" and when the first kid arrived at the front I said, "Great job lining up! Now you get a stamp!" I actually got to see every kids' face and say hello to them!
The adults were super responsive to this activity; many were actively involved with helping their kids wait/follow through. I think the adults liked having a concrete expectation to help them regulate their child's behavior, rather than just sending their kids with the mob.
I think once I have the majority of the kids under a routine, I can make the line go wherever I want or change directions--edges of the room etc, as long as it's always clear where it starts.
I only had about 50 people total in storytime today, so it helped a lot that it was a smaller number of kids than normal. But still, I think this will stick and in a few weeks I'll be able to say goodbye to the storytime stamp mob forever!