Preschool Transitions Between Activities


When we need to line up…one child at a time. I ask everyone to close their eyes. When I tapped them on their head, they may line up. This seems very mysterious and suspenseful, as 1.eyes are closed 2. who will be tapped next. I do not talk at all during this “line up” nor do the children!


Pick up time has never been easier in our classroom. The signal we now use is a John Phillip Sousa March. When the kids hear the music start they know it is time to pick up. The added incentive is when pick up is done we line up on a designated line and have the pick-up parade. We march and do other movements as well. Some favorites have been walking on the balance board, jumping over bricks, walking like various animals, etc.. Pick-up time is quicker and smoother and we also get to work on some of those gross motor skills each day. It has also helped to mark the path the parade will be taking with tape arrows on the floor so the line leader can lead the parade more easily and independently.


I work with 4 and 5-year-olds. Whenever they become very frigidity at circle time, I tell them it is time to “shake those ants out of their pants”. We stand up and I begin to sing to the tune of “wash that gray right out of my hair”.

We’re going to shake those ants out of our pants, we’re going to shake those ants out of our pants, So let’s dance!

We do this at least four times ending the song very slowly and softly, and then I say, now sit down.


When there is a lot going on in the classroom and I need everyone’s attention, I call out loudly “Everybody say ONE…TWO….THREE” while clapping my hands. Then in a normal voice say the same words while lightly slapping my knees. Finally, whisper the words while rubbing the palms together to make a “whispery” sound. By the second week of school, just about every child joins in the chant, and is quiet at the end of third, whispered round.


An idea that I came up with to solve behavior problems is that I always start my circles with lots of movement. It seems to settle the children down a lot. I found that the wandering bean bag really gets the children in my class motivated and ready to learn because they want to play it over and over again. It is the same version as the wandering ball but the children are less likely to bounce it off the wall. I am always down at eye level with my class and am constantly getting silly with them. If you get silly with them and do the movement activities with your class then they will show you more respect.


Clean up time can be hard-I found doing the following makes it easier-tell the children you are going to play a game, this gets them really excited, then tell them we are going to play house, who wants to be my vacuum cleaner? then tell those who raise their hands or say me, “Then I want all my vacuum cleaners to pick up anything that should be thrown away and put it in the trash, then “who wants to be my maids” then those who want to be the maids tell them to pick up any toys and put them away-this is great fun and it not only teaches them to pick up but also uses their imaginations as well.


This is a song I made up for coming to a group time. It is to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it”.

Put your legs in a box, in a box. Put your legs in a box, in a box. Put your legs in a box and a bubble in your mouth, Put your legs in a box, in a box.

Put your hands in your lap, in your lap….

Put a bubble in your mouth, in your mouth,………

It can be changed into any words that you use for a similar situation. When I start singing the song the children know it’s time to sit down and listen!


I work with 4 yr olds and when it is time for us to clean up an move onto a different activity I put on our clean up song. We use Rusted Root’s Send me on my way. They love it. The song is upbeat so they get some wiggles out while cleaning and dancing. They hear the song and without telling them to clean up over and over they know what time it is and begin to clean. I let them know what area they are to be in when the song ends. If there is extra time at the end of the song we dance, dance, dance.


1,2 You know what to do.
3,4 Sit on the floor.
5,6 Your feet you fix.
7,8 Sit up straight.
9,10 Let’s listen again.


I work in a Christian preschool and we use the following song for a transition to wash our hands for a snack or get our coats and bags for departure:

Sung to “Are You Sleeping?”

(child’s name) is special, (child’s name) is special, Jesus says, Jesus says, He says so in the Bible, He says so in the Bible, Yes it does, Yes it does.

Then we move on to the next child’s name until they are all done.

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