Preschool Transitions Between Activities


I have little two & three’s in my daycare, so I like to sing this when it’s storytime:

(Sing a Song of Sixpence)

It’s time to watch and listen,

We’re going to read a book.

We’ll sit down on the rug

And use our eyes to look.

We’ll look at pictures,

And hear the story, too.

Oh, what fun it is to share

This storytime with you!


For other circle time activities I might use:

(Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

Hush, ssh, quiet please,

Let’s all gather near.

Find a friend and sit right down,

Circle time is here.


“Instant Silence Song”Use your own tune to this verse that silences my 4-year-olds instantly.

My friend is “Tori”

My friend is “Tori

“T – O – R – I

My friend is “Tori”

Have the child stand while you are singing “their” song. Several of my students have learned to spell their name.


For clean-up time for the 4-year old class I work with at daycare we use the “clean-up” flag. One student is chosen to be clean-up flag helper and their job is to go from center to center telling the students to clean-up. We have found students respond very well to their peers telling them to clean-up. Once the clean-up flag helper tells the center they have successfully cleaned up he/she gives them permission to go to circle/meeting time. It is amazing the results you get from this!


Our favorite ways to encourage the children to clean up is to 1. play FREEZE CLEAN and 2. GO SHOPPING.FREEZE CLEAN: We have the children clean when the lights are on but when we turn them off the children must freeze in whatever position they are in. If you don’t want to use lights then you can play music while they clean and have them freeze when the music is off. (Kind of like musical chairs, almost.)GO SHOPPING: We give each of the children a plastic grocery bag and tell them that they are going shopping but they can only buy toys that are on the floor and table. We let the children “shop” until all the toys are gone (only the toys that were taken out.). Then we come together and discuss how Mommy and Daddy put away their groceries when they come home and now it is time for us to put our groceries away. Sometimes this takes some time but the children enjoy it. It ensures that all the children have something to put away.


I have found a fun way to get the children’s attention during transition times. I begin playing a game called “If You’re Listening to Me”. It is similar to Simon Says but I begin each phrase with “If you’re listening to me…” then fill in various directions like …touch your nose, …put your hands on your hips, etc. I lead the group and before you know it everyone is playing along giving you their undivided attention. Then it is easy to sneak in any other instructions.


At lunchtime, here is the poem we say:

We play together

We learn together

We share together

And we eat together

Because we are all friends

Let’s eat.

It gets the children all set to eat.


For transitions, I have several favorites.  I have a “question jar” loaded with simple questions that pertain to each weekly unit we are doing. Each child gets to pull a question out of the jar to answer. They are questions like “What color is your shirt?’ or How old are you? etc..

For clean up time, I have an old record called “Chicken Fat” which is actually an exercise record. One side is instrumental and has a great marching beat to it. The idea is to have clean up done and be back to the circle rug BEFORE the record is over. (it’s about 6 minutes long).

My class loves both of these activities!


Play “Simon Says.”

Try playing “I Spy”–great game when learning colors!

Play “Do What I Do” and the children mirror your actions.

Also, an attention-getter I have used before is: “If you can hear my voice, snap your fingers…if you can hear my voice snap your fingers…etc.”, until you have everyone’s attention–(speak in a very soft voice.)


When I take Kinder or Pre-Kinder students walking in the hall, we prepare by singing the following (tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It):

When we’re walking in the hall, we’re very quiet!

When we’re walking in the hall, we’re very quiet!

When we’re walking in the hall, we’re very, very quiet!

And we never, never, ever push our neighbors!

Seems like anytime I neglect this step we have problems! The 1/2 minute it takes to prepare the kids pays off in the end!

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