Preschool Transitions Between Activities


Preschool Transitions Between Activities

I work with 3-5-year-olds and have found a way to silence the room in seconds! I call it the quiet game. We try to see who can stay quiet the longest. There is no talking, laughing, or any kind of vocal noise. On the count of three, we all zip our lips and start the game. The kids love it and beg to play it during transitions.

I have also found that follow the leader works well for walking to the playground or other long distances. You can include marching, hopping, skipping, etc… When the children get to far ahead or you want them to stop, just pretend you are pausing them with a remote control. They love it!!!


I often use the tune to the “Muffin Man” And substitute the words with Oh do you know what time it is, what time it is, what time it is, oh do you know what time it is? It’s time to….(have snack, wash hands, clean up etc.)


A poem that I made up and use to line my 3/4 year old class up. First I say, “When I call you, line up.” Then I recite the following poem that I made up: “If you have on red then you heard what I said” (you heard me say line up) “If you have on blue then you know what to do.” (you know to go get in line) “If you have on white then you know what’s right. (it’s right to get in the back of the line and not in front of someone) “If you have on black then your name must be Jack. “If you have on gray then it’s going to be a wonderful day! “If you have on brown then you better get down. “If you have on green then you know what I mean.( I mean for you to go get in line.) “If you have on yellow then you’re a nice fellow. “If you have on pink then you know what I think. (I think you should get in line.) “If you have on purple then you like to eat Slurple. ( Slurple is a pretend slushy type of drink that is similar to the 7-Eleven Slurpee) Believe me your class will ask what it is!

I’ve been using this rhyme with my classes for a number of months now and it has really helped the children learn their colors!


song movement

Oh Mr. clown clown
the neatest clown in town
show me your tricks
{name of child} clown

repeat until every child has a turn


When it’s clean up time, our “special person” of the day, turns off the lights. We then sing a little CLEANUP SONG. If it looks as though the children are having a hard time beginning to clean…I say freeze. Everyone freezes in place, and we look around to see what we are going to pick up. The teachers always clean up just as the children do. I think modeling is one of the best forms of teaching.


This is a pretty easy and fun way for kids to transition from clean up time to circle time. After the kids have cleaned up, put in the tape Kids in Motion and let them move around to Animal Action or Body Rock. Or any of the other fun songs. This way, they will get some of the wiggles out before sitting down.


I keep theses items handy in my 4’s/5’s classroom to help with transitions:

flashlight to play find the shape or color

tennis balls to roll, bounce and play in small groups of 2 to 3

a beach ball to play keep it going


For transitioning from active to passive time, I use a marching song. The words are “We are marching, marching, marching, in our room. Marching, marching, marching, in our room. We’re marching and we’re having fun, as we sing a marching song. Marching, marching and now our song is done.” The tune is a sing-song. You can change the activity to hopping, skipping, clapping, crawling, etc. to match a theme or to give additional verses.


Transitions can be difficult. A favorite finger play of my students is “Open, Shut Them”. Instead of singing it the traditional way, I sing “open” very slowly, holding the last syllable as long as possible and holding my hands open. This really gets the children’s attention. Then when I sing “shut them”, I sing it very quickly and quickly shut my hands together. Then we repeat “open” very slowly and “shut them” very quickly. By the time I sing “open” for the second time, almost every child is watching, smiling and joining it. They think it is so funny. Then we go on to the next part of our routine with smiling faces.


My children like to Hap Palmer “Hello” song. We use it as an opening song for our circle time. Sometimes when the children are really wiggly and having a hard time settling down, I turn the speed on my record player (yes a few of us still have those relics) from 33 to 45 so it is much quicker. Then we sing it very fast. The children love it! They laugh and join in and get many wiggles out before we get going. Some days I ask them if we should sing “Hello” fast or slow and they decide. As Martha Stewart would say, “it’s a good thing!”

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