Preschool Transitions Between Activities


Sing, Sing, Sing!!! I am not a good singer but I sing a lot during transitions and the children respond. If we are putting on our coats, I’ll sing to any tune that comes to me. “Let’s get our coats on now, coats on now, coats on now…. Or if we are almost done cleaning and some kids are all done, sing “If you are all done cleaning, come line up… come sit down…. go get your coat… Remember you don’t need a good voice or know how to read music just sing whatever you were going to tell them. It works!


At lunchtime this is what we all say together: We say please and thank you because it is polite, we always wait for others before we take a bite. We love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all… we love each other.


When I want my kids at Mother’s Day Out to clean up, I sing the following song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”.

If your name is Jacob, pick up. If your name is Abby, pick up. If your name is Elena, if your name is Hunter, if your name is Tommy, pick up.

They love to hear their name and as soon as they do, they run and pick up something to put away. It has worked with almost all of the children I have worked with — even the ones that aren’t usually interested in helping.


When it’s time to get ready to transition from one activity to another and the room is a mess we sing:

Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere Clean up, clean up, everyone do your share

It’s very simple and all the children enjoy it. It is so easy for them to remember it, and teaches them a great lesson.


I work in a daycare setting with children from 2 through 5 and moving a group of 10 to 20 can be a challenge. We have been using this chant for a few months and it has made the transition from one area of the center to another much easier. You can sing it or just chant; Hands at your side and feet on the floor; Hands at your side and feet on the floor; Hands at your side and feet on the floor as we march, march, march right out the door. You may substitute other actions such as tiptoe, skate, hop, etc. The children have become very excited when they hear the chant begin and lining up has even improved. It sounds too simple, but it really has worked!


As our bathroom is not in our room, we have to line up against a wall and file in and out of the bathroom in the hall. It is hard to make the children stay against the wall while the other children are finishing up. I take an extra large paint brush with me and as the children come out, I paint imaginary glue all over their backs and they glue themselves to the wall. The squirmy ones sometimes need a second coat but they usually are glued to the wall by the time the rest of the class is finished. It can even become the “line leader/daily helpers” job for the day! You’d be surprised how badly they’ll want to stick themselves to the wall!!


To get my class to settle down for circle time or story time, I spray them with “magic good listening mist”! I take a clean spray bottle, fill it with water and put the tiniest drop of mint or cinnamon flavoring in it. (Please check for allergies first). When I spray the class I spray pointed to the ceiling and it mists down on the children lightly with a lovely smell. They are “spell” bound by it!


Here is a song that my preschoolers enjoy singing at the end of the day. I sing and they sing back to me (to the tune of “Where is Thumbkin?”) Teacher: Goodbye, children. Children: Goodbye, teacher. Teacher: I’ll see you soon. Children: We’ll see you soon. Teacher: See you next on (sing name of next day of class). Children: See you next on _____. Teacher: We’ll work and play. Children: We’ll work and play.

I’ve sung other “goodbye” songs with the children over the years but this seems to be the all-time favorite.


I teach 3and4 yr. olds and when they are finishing up on one project I always have a box of books and puzzle nearby so they can get a book or puzzle to work on while the other children finish their projects. This allows all the children to keep busy doing something while everyone works at their own pace to get any work done they are working on.


I teach 2-3-year-olds and have found the following game a really useful transition when sending children to the bathroom or onto another activity. The game has also been used very effectively when learning new children’s names. The words to the game are: “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? “(Enter a child’s name) stole the cookie from the cookie jar.

This verse is repeated over and over until all children’s names have been called. Whilst saying the verse, more than one child’s name can be called at a time. In addition to singing this verse I use body percussion to tap out a beat the children find this very amusing.

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