Preschool Transitions Between Activities


To make clean up time fun for the kids and a lot easier on you, here is a fun way to do this. Make a traffic light out of cardboard, you could either paint red, yellow and green circles or you can cut them out of construction paper. This can stick on the wall during play time. The green circle can be attached to the traffic light during play time. When it is almost time to clean up, the teacher can put the yellow circle up. When the children see the yellow circle they will know that playtime is almost over. When it is time for the classroom to be cleaned the red circle will up. The kids will know that they should start cleaning up.


When my 3 yr olds are on their way outside or to the gym, we have a very long hallway to walk down. To keep them from running ahead, or walking out of line, we sing the following song to the tune of “If You’re Happy & You Know It”. It also teaches children their left from their right.

“Put your left (right) hand on the wall in the hall. Put your left (right) hand on the wall in the hall. When we walk down the hall, we put our left (right) hand on the wall. Put your left (right) hand on the wall in the hall.


If your group of students has a hard time with transitions. Sing this song with a medium tone then lower if needed. You will be surprised that the students will be singing with you and will be soon focused on your next activity. Song: Are you Listening (tune of Are You Sleeping)

Are you Listening
Are You Listening Boys and Girls Boys and Girls
We’re getting ready snack
Please be quiet, or please find a seat


I use my digital camera to take a photo of each child. I have used them for the following purposes: 1) I printed two of each child for a game of concentration. 2) Transition activity at the beginning of the year: lay one photo of each child’s face down in the middle of the circle. When a child selects a photo, they say the name of the child in the photo. Good get-acquainted activity.3) I put two photos up each day. These are the children who sit by me all day. That ended a lot of arguing about who would sit by me. Works really well and I use them in alphabetical order.


A great chant to use during transitions!!!

Chant/Fingerplay “Three Little Muffins”

Three little muffins in the bakery shop, you know the kind with the honey and the nuts on top,
along comes a child with a penny to pay, he bought one muffin and ran away…
two little muffins
one little muffin
no little muffins in the bakery shop, you know the kind with the honey and nuts on top,
along comes a child with a penny to pay and says what no muffins today?


When it’s time to clean up, I put on some ‘working music’ as each child cleans their area. If it seems to be a massive job I will call on individual children and assign a specific task ex. Holly will you hang up all the costumes, Greg can you please put away the dishes, Tim will you help the blocks find their home… If the children still seem too distracted then I become the ‘Inspector’ with my magnifying glass… They love this one and will hustle to keep the inspector from finding anything out of place…


At the beginning of the school year, we take pictures of all our students, we then cut them out and glue them to tongue depressors and make puppets out of them. We then use them in transitions.


At clean-up time, I pair up 4 children & rotate the centers they need to clean. I put on music & they try to beat the music. It has worked well.


Here’s a song I sing to get the kids to quietly for group time

Sit criss-cross applesauce hands in your lap criss-cross applesauce hands in your lap
Sit criss-cross applesauce hands in your lap
Cause that’s the way we like to sit …. Yeah


Herman the Worm

I try to sing different songs to the children – especially when we are waiting for lunch to arrive. The fingerplay that the children like the best is Herman the Worm.

First, pretend you (teacher and children) need to get a great big piece of gum out of your pocket and unwrap it and put it in your mouth. Make sure that it is big and really soft. Next, you reach in your other pocket and pull out your favorite yo-yo. Tie the string around you finger. Now, start the rhyme.

I was sitting on the front porch chewing my bubble gum….(pretend to chomp) chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp. Playing with my yo-yo. (pretend yo-yo is going up and down) say “Do Wop, Do Wap, Do Wap, Do Wap, And along came Herman the worm, and he was this big. (Show the children how big the worm is – about and inch – finger and thumb) I said “Herman, What happened?!) “Duuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh” (sound like a dumb cartoon character) “I swallowed a bug” Use your pointer finger to make Herman crawl away.

And the next day, I was sitting on my front porch chewing my bubble gum…chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp. Playing with my yo-yo…do Wop, do wop, do wop, do wop. And along came Herman the Worm and he was this big. (Demonstrate with both hands about 10 inches apart) I said, “Herman, What happened?!” “Duuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh, I swallowed a mouse!” This time Herman walks off with your hand in the motion of a worm crawling.

Day 3, He swallows a cat. Demonstrate his walk with one arm. Day 4, He swallows a dog. Demonstrate his walk with both arms. Day 5, He swallows a pig. Demonstrate his walk moving your entire body.

Finally… And the next day I was sitting on the front porch chewing my bubble gum…chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp,chomp. Playing with my yo-yo…do wop, do wop, do wop, do wop. And along came Herman the Worm, and he was this big. (Back to the size of the inch) I said, “Herman, What happened!?” “Duuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhh, I burped!”

Now, don’t forget your manners! “Duuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh, Excuse me!”

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