Preschool Transitions Between Activities


Preschool Transitions Between Activities

Our school created the idea of “Hips and Lips” for walking in the hall. The students walk in the hall with one finger placed on their lips and the other hand on their hips. I wrote a jingle to go along with it.

Hips and lips is what we do, when we walk in the hall.
Hips and lips is what we do, we don’t talk at all.

My preschoolers have learned this song and we sing it every time we line up to leave our classroom.


I find singing songs immediately quiets the room down. Asking children to do SPECIFIC jobs rather than the general “clean up” is helpful as well. Maybe make some of the children “chair helpers”, block helpers, and so on.


I have a rowdy class of 3-year-olds — 12 boys and 2 girls. Walking down the hall is a big challenge because they touch each other, run, shout, fall down, etc. I have done the finger play with them a few times — 1-2-3-4-5, I caught a fish alive 6-7-8-9-10, I let him go again Why did you let him go? Because he bit my finger so. Which finger did he bite? This little finger on the right. I was amazed that they liked it. Today when walking from the lunchroom to the room for naps, we did the entire finger play once when we first lined up. Then I said. “1-2-3-4-5, I caught a fish alive. Now hold on to your fish. Don’t let him go until we get to our cots.” I reminded them the whole way (about 50 feet) and we finished it when we got to the classroom. They’ve never walked from lunch to nap so quietly!


Translation for the “Estoy Esperando” song in Spanish.

I was receiving a few e-mails about this song’s translation so I am posting it now!

I am waiting I am waiting
For all my friends For all my friends
To come and join our circle To come and join our circle
Sit right down Sit right down.

Again, this is sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques” (same tune as “Where is Thumbkin?”) Hope this helps!


You can signal a transition without using any words at all! Simply wear a different hat for different activities or changes. For example, when it is time to go outdoors wear a silly flowered hat! As time goes on the children will pick up on this visual cue and know it is almost time to clean up, put coats on, etc. Try it!


I teach in a bilingual nursery school and here is a song that we sing while going to circle time in Spanish:

(to the tune of Where is Thumbkin)

Estoy esperando
Estoy esperando
Que mis amigos
Que mis amigos
Entren a la rueda
Entren a la rueda
Sientense Sientense


Before you start your Circle Time, say this poem with the children. (It will prepare them to listen.)

Wiggle your fingers, (wiggle fingers) Wiggle your toes, (wiggle toes) Wiggle your ears, (move earlobes back n’ forth) Wiggle your nose, (wiggle nose w/ fingers) Now that we have had our fill, It is time to sit still (fold hands neatly in your lap).


One way to teach children to count and to get their attention is to tell the children that when you start counting 1-2-3 that means that it is time for all the children to come to the table and sit quietly for the next activity. I encourage the children to count with me. Once we have used 1-2-3 and the children have learned it then I instruct the children that we will now be counting 4-5-6 and then 7-8-9 etc. By the end of the year, the children have learned to count and it really does get their attention.


If you want your children to enter a room quietly try this saying:
Mousie, Mousie 1,2,3
Who will be as quiet as can be?
We shall see…

You can now go out the door without so much noise. It might take a couple of tries before some children will catch on.


When my pre-k children are lining up at the door to go down the hall or outside, the line sometimes gets a bit noisy. This is what we say before we go down the hall. “I’m ready for the hall. I’m standing straight and tall. My arms are down, I’m facing front I’m ready for the hall.” They love it!


Circle Time…

(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.

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