Preschool Transitions Between Activities


The Laughing Handkerchief

Toss a colorful handkerchief in the air and ask 2-3 children to help out by laughing, stomping, or clapping as loud as they can while the handkerchief is in the air- then stop when it hits the ground. It won’t be long until everyone’s attention is on you and your group.


At tidy up time, we sing…

Now its time to tidy up, tidy up,

Now its time to tidy up and put your work away.

Again…a tune of its own


To get the children to come to circle time we sing…

Let’s sit for story (or circle)

For story, for story,

Let’s sit for story,

Please come and sit with me.

(at this point children start to arrive and we sing)..

Bobby is at story, at story, at story

Bobby is at story, he came to sit with me

(and so on til you name everyone is sitting down)

I am sorry I can’t tell you the tune, it has one of its own. Just make one up as you go and you’ll sound fine!


I’m Glad You Came to School Sung to: The Farmer in the Dell

I’m glad (child’s name) came to school,

I’m glad (child’s name) came to school,

We’ve planned lots of fun for you,

I’m glad (child’s name) came to school,


Music Time Is Here Sung to: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

(Child’s name) sing, sing with me.

Sing out loud and clear

To tell the children everywhere

That Music time is here.


Clean Up Song Sung to: London Bridges

(Child’s name) put the toys away

Toys away, toys away.

(Child’s name) put the toys away.

It’s cleanup time.

Additional verses: Substitute toys with puzzles, books, blocks, etc.


I teach four-year-olds. We learn a new shape each month. I usually have four centers each day. Each center is labeled with a color to start. I chose red, blue, yellow and green. The labels are cut in the shape for the month. These colors correspond to colored clothespins in a bucket. At the end of circle time when we’re ready for centers, each child chooses a clip — without peeking, of course — from the bucket. They then know which center to go to ie; the yellow square is free play, blue square is playdough, etc. After I’m finished with the children who came to the teacher directed center, the bell ringer for that day rings the bell. I move the center colors around the room clockwise saying, “If you have a blue clip, follow the blue square to playdough. If you’re wearing a yellow clip, come to when I am.”, etc. This allows each child to visit every center every day and helps them learn to get along with a different small group each day, too.


Sometimes it is hard to get the attention of the children during busy times. My students know when they hear the “Magic Button”, it is time to stop and listen.

My magic button is one of those small, round musical buttons from a craft store. They come in a variety of songs and even include holiday songs. It only takes one child to stop and listen, and soon, they all are quiet and listening!


In a preschool setting, I have found a great way to work through the transition between free play and hand washing (for lunchtime) is to get all of the children in a circle and sing “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” Whenever a child’s name is called and they choose another child, they then go directly to the bathroom. This works great for large groups and only takes about 5 minutes to play. The song is as follows: Group: “Kelley stole the cookie from the cookie jar” Kelley: “Who me?” Group: “Yes you!” Kelley: “No way!” Group: “Then who?” Then Kelley chooses another child and it goes from there. It is a very easy transition and saves the bathroom from being bombarded by all of the children at once. And, best of all, the children really love it!!!


One I like to use to line my children up to leave the room is from Every Day Songs.

Quiet, Quiet Let’s be Quiet (Three times)

We want it very Quiet

Stand up, Stand up and be quiet (Three Times)

We’re standing and we’re quiet

Slowly, Slowly get in line now (Three Times)

We’re getting into line now

Softly, softly walking (Three Times)

We’re walking very softly

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