Preschool Transitions Between Activities


Preschool Transitions Between Activities

When we walk through the halls, I sprinkle the children with INVISIBLE DUST. You know, invisible people cannot be seen or heard, so we tiptoe quietly (well, relatively so ) to our destination!


To get your kids to keep their hands to themselves and stay quiet as you walk down the hall, just ask them for HUGS and KISSES. Wrap your arms around your body and give a little squeeze for a hug. Pucker your lips (without smacking them) for a kiss. Your kids will love it! “Hugs and kisses” sound so much better than “Be quiet and keep your hands to yourself”, and it gives the children something to do with their hands and mouths.


A couple of songs we use for reminding kids to sit down at circle.

Hold hands overhead, palms together like a belly dancer: Then we say, “One, two, three, four, hoochy-coochy to the floor”.

Song: (If You’re Happy And You Know It)

Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat
Everybody have a seat on the floor.
Not on the ceiling, not on the door,
Everybody have a seat on the floor.


To get my students to sit at the table or on their spots on the carpet I sing this song to the tune of “Here we go around the Mulberry Bush.”

Who is sitting in their seat/spot, in their seat, in their seat?

Who is sitting in their seat, sitting very quietly?

Who is sitting in their seat, in their seat, in their seat?

Who is sitting in their seat? They’ll get a treat!

When one or two children have sat, I sometimes use a name: Billy’s sitting in his seat, in his seat, in his seat. etc. The children are beginning to catch on to this and it helps get them seated without having to raise my voice. It saves on stress and makes a task that could be difficult a little bit of fun.


I use this poem to settle the children down before I read a story.

Hands upon my head I place

Upon my shoulders and on my face

At my waist and by my side

And then behind me they will hide

And then I’ll raise them way up high

And let my fingers fly, fly, fly

With a clap, clap, clap

And a one, two, three

Let’s see how quiet we can be


I came up with a song to sing while we’re waiting for all the kids to join us on the carpet for story or group time, or even to line up. It’s to the tune of the wishing well song from Snow White

We’re waiting, we’re waiting

For the friends we love

To join us, to join us

Today, today.

******You can change the last line to fit the circumstance, like, For story, for story or To play, to play***********The kiddos love it!


I teach Pre-K and Kindergarten. We sing songs during clean up which helps the transition move along quickly and happily.

Sung to (Farmer in the dell)

It’s time to clean up

Its time to clean up

We had some fun

and now we’re done

It time to clean the room

Then to get the children to circle or meeting time

sung to any tune

I am waiting

I am waiting

I am waiting just for you

To show me that your ready

And I’ll be ready too.

(As the children sit down)

We are waiting

We are waiting

We are waiting just for you

To show us that you’re ready

And we’ll be ready too.

The children love to be one of the first ones seated to help you sing.

When children are talking

sung to (Are You Sleeping)

Are you talking?

Are you talking?

I hear you

I hear you

Show me that you’re quiet

Show me that you’re quiet

SH Sh Sh

Sh Sh Sh


We sing this song in our Head Start center to line up to go outside to play…LITTLE RED BOX (you can change the color)

I wish I had a little red box,

To put my (child’s name) in

I would take him/her out and XXX (smooch sound 3times)

And put him/her back again.


I teach Head Start children and this is a song that we sing first thing every morning to get the day started…..

Little Birdy

Little Birdy with the yellow bill

Hopped up on my window seal!

Cocked his little head and said

“Get up, get up, its time to go to Head Start.

The kids love it and want to sing it every day.


As a preschool teacher, it’s often hard to keep the children quiet while moving through the hallways, let alone past the baby rooms! We ask the children to put on their “bubbles” as we walk to the playground or gym. It keeps them focused and quiet while going somewhere special.They just make their cheeks look like bubbles to accomplish this transition!


This idea can help with autistic children or others who may have a lot of difficulty with the transition. Make a schedule board with real objects representing each activity. For example, a cup may represent lunch, a cassette tape may represent music, a toy may represent free play. A small book may represent story time. These objects can be velcroed to the board. When it is time to begin an activity the child goes to get the object off the board. When the activity is finished the child puts the object into a bucket. This helps the child to have a visual to remind him what comes next. The action of removing the object signifies a definite beginning and putting the object in the bucket signifies a definite ending to the activity. This may also help the child to feel he has some control over the situation.


At the end of each day, my floor is quite cluttered from art projects, snacks, etc. I quickly eyeball a scrap on the floor and then announce, “My…I think I see a “MAGIC SCRAP” on the floor!” The children scurry around and pick up all of the scraps from the floor and I keep an eye out to see who picks up the “MAGIC SCRAP”. I stand near the garbage can and observe that all of the scraps make it into the garbage. As soon as all of the students are back in their seats, I announce the name of the student that found the MAGIC SCRAP. This student gets to choose a sticker or an M&M or some other small prize before they go home (Sometimes I keep a checklist to ensure that everyone who plays MAGIC SCRAP gets at least one prize each semester). My room always looks great at the end of the day!


I have found that transitions can be made easy – and fun! – if YOU are calm and in control. You can achieve successful transitions by:

1) warning children 5 – 10 minutes in advance that it will be time to clean up

2) play a specific game to get children out of circle into another activity such as snack, activity centers, lunch, etc. Some of the games I play are “Catch a ______ by the Tail,” “Where is Mousie?”, and “Word Search,” to name a few For details on these games, please feel free to e-mail me! MissAmye@juno.com. I also ask the children 10 minutes or so before we are to transition what the rules are and how we go about _____ . It works really well for me!


For cleanup time, especially when the kiddos are very high energy, I have discovered that playing “Beat The Clock” with them works wonders! I ask them who’d like to play, gather them in the center of the room and set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes. We then try to get the room clean before the timer goes off!!! Nearly everyone joins in, putting away toys and books, and the room is tidy in usually about 3 minutes!!! A cleanup that would have taken about 10 minutes or more with much grumbling, is done quickly and easily and then we can move on to other things!We also have been gathering in a circle before circle time and looking around the room to talk about what part is the messiest. Then we ask for volunteers, who can ask others to help. Some of the children who hated cleaning before have gotten excited about it when we have them do it this way…. we have some real cleaning superstars! After it’s clean we get in circle again, talk about who cleaned what, applaud everyone, and then proceed with the circle time.


Good Bye Song tune- Are your sleeping?

Teacher: Goodbye children

Children: Goodbye teacher

Teacher: I’ll see you soon.

Children: We’ll see you soon.

Teacher: See you next on (_____)

Children: We’ll see you next on (_____)

Teacher: We’ll work and play.

Children: We’ll work and play.


Clean Up Song tune-Twinkly Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle little star

Time to clean up where you are

Put each toy back in its place

Keep a smile on your face

Twinkle, twinkle little star

Time to clean up where you are.


I give my kids “quiet juice” before naptime to get them settled.They use their fisted hand as the cup. After they drink their quiet juice they have to be very quiet. Another method I use is to sprinkle “whispering magic” when they get too loud. It really works!!


Early childhood classroom teachers may not need to do much “digging” to find an excellent source of classical music for their children. I recommend the teachers to check into their local Public Radio station for classical programming. Our local station, WDAV from Davidson College, even has a program “Mozart Cafe” from noon to 2:00PM – perfect for lunch and rest time! And the best part: IT’S FREE!!!


I give the children specifics saying “Ok Joe you are in charge of the food and Jessica you are in charge of the clothes” or I give them a specific number of items to clean-up.


I play “I spy” with the kids while they wait to go outside. I also play the same game with the photographs that I taped to the wall in the hall.

Share an idea you have used in your classroom or at home that pertains to this theme.