The Perpetual Preschool

Preschool Transitions Between Activities

Preschool Transitions Between Activities

Moving a group of children between one activity and another can be a source of incredible stress.  Never fear, check out the 210+ transition ideas and watch your stress level go down!

Clean up times can be frustrating! Try this fun tip: Ask children to turn themselves into vacuum cleaners! Put out your arms and make vacuum cleaner sound effects while the hose (your arms) pick up all the toys, paper or anything else you need to be picked up! The children forget they are cleaning!

Cleanup time works really well for us when we turn on a piece of music and try to finish clean up and be sitting by the end of the music. You can change it each month or use the same one all year. I used A Spoon Full of Sugar from Mary Poppins.

Only one can talk at a time
And this is what I’ll do
I’ll be as quiet as a little mouse
Till other folks are through.

I put my hands upon my head
On my shoulders
On my face
At my waist
And at my side
Then behind me, they will hide
I lift them way up in the sky
Let my fingers fly fly fly
Clap clap clap…and one two three
See how quiet they can be.
(I make a big deal of interlacing my fingers and they do it with me.)

As many of you know one of the hardest tasks for young toddlers is simply walking from the classroom to the playground. I have found that toddlers love 3 things most, repetition, music, and hearing their names. So on the looooong walk from the classroom to the playground we sing…

Merrily we stroll along, stroll along, stroll along.
Merrily we stroll along on our way outside.
Hello, Parker, Hello Taylor, Hello Garrett, how are you today? (continue singing the children’s names all the way down the line and finish with)
Merrily we stroll along, stroll along, stroll along.
Merrily we stroll along on our way outside. (or inside on the way back)

Something else I found to be rather helpful with this age is to have a walking rope, the children are still learning what a “line” is this will help be a physical and visual reminder of that concept! Happy Strolling!!

I had problems with my 3year old class at clean-up time. I made up a song to encourage all of my children. I sang ” who is going to pick up blocks, pick up blocks, pick up blocks, who is going to pick up blocks, and be a classroom helper?” and repeat with child’s name ” Sally is picking up blocks, and repeat above. It is a simple song and it really works.

While everybody is getting ready to go into line up, have short rhymes with action to do with the children that are waiting in line.

To get the children faster in a line up, do the train but add a real sound of the train with the train whistle. The children love it!

If you know another language than English, teach the children to count in that new language (1 to 10). If you have children that speak polish, Italian, etc. ask these children to count for the classroom while other kids are getting ready.

To get ready for religion or story time, have a little song to announce that special time. Here is the song I sing for religion (melody: Brother john):

I am special(x2)
Look and see(x2)
I am very special (x2)
God loves me (x2).

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.

Preschool Transitions Between Activities

Clean Up Freeze…

Play a song as children clean up from an activity of play time. Throughout the song, stop the music and have everyone freeze. Restart the music to get the little ones moving again. Works really well.

During a transition from group to lunch, I use if…then statements, e.g. “If you have on glasses, then you may go.” After about six weeks of using this approach, I let my students take over as the “if” person (the “if” person changes daily). It is amazing what the four-year-olds can do with this. Sometimes we use this chance to discuss different types of clothing, and parts of clothing (overalls, collars, belts, etc.) as well as colors, before the “if” person starts. He/she has to generate ideas of how to get the last child/children to lunch/breakfast.

I use the tune to If You’re Happy and You Know It for two transitional songs: first from clean-up to sitting down for story –

If you’re ready for a story find a seat;
if you’re ready for a story find a seat;
if you’re ready for a story check your hands and then your feet;
if you’re ready for a story find a seat.

Second for waiting till everyone is seated so all can start snack at the same time:

Put your hands in the air, in the air;
put your hands in the air, in the air;
put your hands in the air,
but we don’t want to leave them there!
Sooo…put your hands in your lap, in your lap;
put your hands in your lap, in your lap;
put your hands in your lap and we’ll get ready for our snack;
put your hands in your lap, in your lap.

We used footprint cutouts that the children decorated with stickers and markers to help with our daily transitions – I taped them in our hallway – a group at the top and bottom of the stairs which we labeled “up” and “down” and more at our doorway labeled “in” and “out”. this is great word identification as well as a great way of letting the children learn to walk on the right side of the hallway!

To keep toddlers busy and get a clean room, give each toddler a washcloth. then squirt small amounts of shaving cream around the room (on the fridge, on the table, on a shelf, on the wall, etc. ) the toddlers will love wiping the shaving cream and cleaning the items at the same time. they LOVE it.

Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles!! We love them, my preschoolers love them and they make a great cool down activity after a great hot recess outside. We simply come inside put on some music (soothing works best) and settle down while blowing bubbles. There is definitely something special about bubbles!

Whenever we need to make the transition from center time to circle time, I use the Greg and Steve song version of Zipadeedoodah……the children know when they hear this song, it’s time to clean up and move to the circle time area. When we are making the transition from center time to lunch time, I play the Greg and Steve song, Three Little Pigs….we call this the pig stomp…..the children love it and it helps to get their wiggles out before we line up for lunch.

I have found that this song settles the children quickly without effort. Sung to the tune of (Pierre Jacques)

It is ring time, It is ring time,
come and sit, come and sit
Let us learn together,
Let us learn together
It’s ring time
It’s ring time.

Before leaving our classroom to go to special classes we always recite this little verse:

My hands are at my sides, I’m standing straight and tall. My eyes are looking straight ahead, I’m ready for the hall.

When you excuse little ones for snack or lunch sing a song to let them know what time it is. Here is one- Have children hold out their hands and show you their “poppers”. Ask them where they want to pop (head , hands, knees, etc…)

Popping popcorn
Popping popcorn
pop pop pop
pop pop pop
Popping Popping popcorn
Popping popping popcorn
pop pop pop
pop pop pop

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.

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!”

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!”

Preschool Transitions Between Activities

I use a number of techniques to assist in my transitions. I like to use music to transition to cleaning and snack. I also feel that it is important to provide a warning about how much time is left with a current activity (i.e., two more minutes and it is time to clean up). I sometimes set a timer for this warning (some children are very aware of what two minutes feels like)! When transitioning from one room to another, I’ve found that distraction works well. I usually play a game with my preschoolers. For example, we may pretend to be birds and fly to the next room. The children seem to enjoy thinking of new things to pretend to be and they usually transition without any problems.

For clean-up time I play a few chords on the piano and sing the following song (tune: London Bridge is Falling Down). Everybody pick up toys, pick up toys, pick up toys. Everybody pick up toys, in our classroom.

I learned this great rhyme from a teacher I observed that we sing before we walk in line down the hallway. My hands are hanging by my side, I’m standing straight and tall, my eyes are looking straight ahead I’m ready for the hall.

I’m a preschool teacher for three-year-olds. A song I learned seems to calm the kids down before snack. When I set them at the table, I have them put their hands in the air. We say together: open shut them, open shut them (open & close fists) give a Little clap (clap on the word clap) open shut them, open shut them (repeat open/closed fist) Put them in your lap (put your hands in your lap)

Transition times require a lot of thought because these unstructured times can be difficult for children. Here is one transition that worked for me in a preschool setting:

Point to the window
Point to the door
Point to the ceiling
Point to the floor
Point to your elbow
Point to your knee
Point to you and point to me.

It gets their attention on you!

When settling down for a quiet time we recite the following rhyme: Here are grandma’s glasses ( put thumbs and forefingers together and place over eyes. Here is grandma’s hat (form teepee on head with hands.) And here is how she folds her hands and lays them in her lap.

Here are grandpa’s glasses (form circle on eyes with fingers and thumbs. I usually use a deeper voice) Here is grandpa’s hat. (teepee on head) And here is how he folds his arms just like that. (Put arms akimbo.) Children may have to be shown how to put arms akimbo the first time.

To make sure my guys are listening to me – I use comments like – “If you are listening to me touch your head, If you listening to me put your hands on your hips…etc” I keep changing the body part until all the kids in my program (sometimes 30 at once) are playing the game.

When I walk my 3-year-olds down to large motor we have to walk through the whole center, including the baby room. I tell my children that we are going to “tiptoe” through the baby room. I elaborately demonstrate a tiptoe and put my finger to my lips and say SHHH. The children imitate it the whole way to the gym. They move slowly and quietly because you can’t run when you tiptoe! Whenever I forget this step the children tend to run and trip.

Every morning we do our wake up warm up: we begin by getting a rhythm, clapping hands stepping sideways .teacher starts then children repeat (until they get used to it, then whomever leads varies); Get down get funky get loose and move to the beat you get your whole body moving and you start with your feet (this next verse the children join in with the teacher) i said your feet 2 3 4 (march) your knees 2 3 4 (bend knees) your hips 2 3 4 (move hips) your arms 2 3 4 (stretch arms) your neck 2 3 4 (move neck) you fingers 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20(open and shut fingers) (all children freeze) now you have their attention)

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.

3-5 minute warnings.

This is a very important step for young children. It is very difficult for them to stop an activity when they are at the height of their creativeness!!!

Try to always give them a warning that a transition is about to happen.

For example, if you will be going outside for 10 minutes, shut off the lights and tell the children that there are 5 more minutes until clean up.(When we shut off the lights the children usually get instantly quiet from the surprise of it. We then softly sing “Stop, look and listen” before we give the warning.

In five minutes, do the same thing, only tell them that it is clean up time.

For older preschoolers, the above can be a classroom helper job–lights!

Another way to clean up is to give one warning and then we ring a wrist bell and sing the Barney Clean up song or other clean up songs.

Pick a song that will always be used for a specific transition. One of my colleagues uses the Circle of Life song from Lion King for the cleanup song. When the children hear it, they know what “time” it is.

I run a Playcentre which caters for 3-5year olds. We use this fingerplay as a transition from group to morning tea. 2 little children sitting on the floor 1 named (Alice) and 1 named (Steven). Fly away Alice Fly away Steven Wash your hands and collect your morning tea.

Using actions for Two Little Dickie Birds and pretending to wash our hands and eat. morning tea.

We keep changing names until all children have left.

When children need to move to another area have them listen to directions about how to move. Some examples are “with 3 body parts touching the floor”, ” on tiptoes”, or “like a skater”.

To get children into listening position at circle time I use the words “BUBBLE GUM”. On the first day, we pretend to chew a piece of gum. We take out a piece and stick it to our bottoms. Then we chew some more and stick a piece to our crossed legs. We chew some more and take a piece and stick it to our folded hands. Next, we pretend to blow a big bubble and have it pop on our face, sticking our mouths shut and our eyes on the speaker. Now when I want the children’s’ attention at circle I just say “Bubblegum”. Presto we have a listening position. We also keep a drawing of a bubble gum jar near our circle. I give a colored round sticker (bubble gum) for good listening and other good behaviors. The children put the stickers in the jar and when the jar is filled we have a party.

At a recent workshop, I learned two excellent transitioning strategies! One was for transitioning into naptime, which can be one of the toughest transitions of the day! Go to Toys R Us, or even to a dollar store and pick up a play wand, something fun with lots of glitter and sequins! At naptime walk slowly around the room and find the children that are resting quietly, say something like ” Oh, I like how Mandy is resting quietly, I think she is ready for the naptime wand!” Then rub the child’s back gently with the wand and sing “Goodnight Mandy, Goodnight Mandy, Goodnight Mandy, It’s time to rest right now.” The other children will want to be next for the naptime wand and will quiet down! It works very well in my class. It makes the child feel that they are really receiving something special, and the one on one closeness that you will share with each child for those few moments help them to calm down.

An excellent way to transition a class from one area to the next, such as from center play into circle time is to play “What’s in the sack?” Little ones LOVE secrets and surprises and this offers some of both! Just get a sack, either made of fabric or just a brown paper sack, then put something really neat in it, like a koosh ball, or a finger puppet! Now just walk around the room, muttering, “Gee, I wonder what’s in this sack?” Eventually, the children will begin to flock over, one by one, wanting to find out, what is in the sack! Allow them to each reach in and feel the object, without being able to see it. Now tell them that you are going to show them all what’s in the sack, but first “Let’s all go to circle time and sit down, so that we can all see.” or “First let’s go line up at the door and be very quiet, so I can show everyone what’s in here!”. If you put something really fascinating in the sack the first time you do this, it will work like a charm every time!! =)

To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle

My students sit on circles at group time, thus the “circle” mentioned in the song.

Let’s see who is here today . . . who has come to sing and play? Find a circle on the ground. Find a circle and please sit down. Let’s see who is here today . . . who has come to sing and play?

Transition Songs

To “She’ll be coming round the mountain”

Any transition event will fit this tune. For example,

If you’re ready for a story, please sit down, If you’re ready for a story please sit down, If you’re ready for a story, If you’re ready for a story, If you’re ready for a story please sit down.

I teach 3 and 4-year-olds and I made up this clever little poem to help the children know when it’s transition time and also when it’s time to line up! “If you have on red then you heard what I said. (You heard me say that it’s time to line up.) If you have on blue then you know what to do. ( You know that it’s time to line up.) If you have on green then you know what I mean. If you have on pink then you know what I think. ( I think you should be getting ready to line up.) If you have on white then you know what’s right.(It’s right to go to the end of the line and not in front of someone else.) If you have on black then your name must be Jack. If you have on purple then you like to eat Slurple.(a pretend drink that is like the 7 Eleven Slurpee) If you have on Grey oh what a wonderful day! If you have on brown then you better get down. If you have on yellow then you’re a nice fellow. If you have on orange, well that’s just orange.”

Ever since I have been using this poem it has really helped my class learn its colors and it has really cut down the time I used to spend repeating what we were getting ready to do. It has worked so well that should I ever just say that “It’s time to get in line,” then someone in my class will always say,”Well Miss Tonya you forgot to say red I said, blue you know what to do, etc.!

I teach preschool, and am always trying to teach something in secret ways in the form of a game. A transition that I have used all year to get the children from our first group time to our activity tables: I have something called puzzle pals. Each child closes their eyes and I give each of them a card that is in the shape of a puzzle piece. I often use letters or numbers. After everyone has a card we go around the circle and everyone has a chance to tell us what they have. Two children match (Both have the letter E) Once everyone finds their “pal” I call them to the tables by letters. I originally did this at the beginning of the year for the children to get to know each other. They enjoyed it so much that I have done this using different topics. (numbers, colors, shapes) I have also used capital letters to lower case letters once the children are familiar with all the letters. The children love this game, and it reinforces their learning.

I work in long day care & we have this favorite song at transition times. 1 or 2 staff stand at the door if we are outside or on the mat if we are inside clapping our hands & singing; Over here, over here Hurry up, hurry up Boys and girls together Boys & girls together Lets line up (or wash hands/sit down etc) Lets line up

The children clap & sing for us now, they like to feel in control!

Preschool Transitions Between Activities

When we walk through the halls, I sprinkle the children with INVISIBLE DUST. You know, invisible people cannot be seen or heard, so we tiptoe quietly (well, relatively so ) to our destination!

To get your kids to keep their hands to themselves and stay quiet as you walk down the hall, just ask them for HUGS and KISSES. Wrap your arms around your body and give a little squeeze for a hug. Pucker your lips (without smacking them) for a kiss. Your kids will love it! “Hugs and kisses” sound so much better than “Be quiet and keep your hands to yourself”, and it gives the children something to do with their hands and mouths.

A couple of songs we use for reminding kids to sit down at circle.

Hold hands overhead, palms together like a belly dancer: Then we say, “One, two, three, four, hoochy-coochy to the floor”.

Song: (If You’re Happy And You Know It)

Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat
Everybody have a seat on the floor.
Not on the ceiling, not on the door,
Everybody have a seat on the floor.

To get my students to sit at the table or on their spots on the carpet I sing this song to the tune of “Here we go around the Mulberry Bush.”

Who is sitting in their seat/spot, in their seat, in their seat?

Who is sitting in their seat, sitting very quietly?

Who is sitting in their seat, in their seat, in their seat?

Who is sitting in their seat? They’ll get a treat!

When one or two children have sat, I sometimes use a name: Billy’s sitting in his seat, in his seat, in his seat. etc. The children are beginning to catch on to this and it helps get them seated without having to raise my voice. It saves on stress and makes a task that could be difficult a little bit of fun.

I use this poem to settle the children down before I read a story.

Hands upon my head I place

Upon my shoulders and on my face

At my waist and by my side

And then behind me they will hide

And then I’ll raise them way up high

And let my fingers fly, fly, fly

With a clap, clap, clap

And a one, two, three

Let’s see how quiet we can be

I came up with a song to sing while we’re waiting for all the kids to join us on the carpet for story or group time, or even to line up. It’s to the tune of the wishing well song from Snow White

We’re waiting, we’re waiting

For the friends we love

To join us, to join us

Today, today.

******You can change the last line to fit the circumstance, like, For story, for story or To play, to play***********The kiddos love it!

I teach Pre-K and Kindergarten. We sing songs during clean up which helps the transition move along quickly and happily.

Sung to (Farmer in the dell)

It’s time to clean up

Its time to clean up

We had some fun

and now we’re done

It time to clean the room

Then to get the children to circle or meeting time

sung to any tune

I am waiting

I am waiting

I am waiting just for you

To show me that your ready

And I’ll be ready too.

(As the children sit down)

We are waiting

We are waiting

We are waiting just for you

To show us that you’re ready

And we’ll be ready too.

The children love to be one of the first ones seated to help you sing.

When children are talking

sung to (Are You Sleeping)

Are you talking?

Are you talking?

I hear you

I hear you

Show me that you’re quiet

Show me that you’re quiet

SH Sh Sh

Sh Sh Sh

We sing this song in our Head Start center to line up to go outside to play…LITTLE RED BOX (you can change the color)

I wish I had a little red box,

To put my (child’s name) in

I would take him/her out and XXX (smooch sound 3times)

And put him/her back again.

I teach Head Start children and this is a song that we sing first thing every morning to get the day started…..

Little Birdy

Little Birdy with the yellow bill

Hopped up on my window seal!

Cocked his little head and said

“Get up, get up, its time to go to Head Start.

The kids love it and want to sing it every day.

As a preschool teacher, it’s often hard to keep the children quiet while moving through the hallways, let alone past the baby rooms! We ask the children to put on their “bubbles” as we walk to the playground or gym. It keeps them focused and quiet while going somewhere special.They just make their cheeks look like bubbles to accomplish this transition!

This idea can help with autistic children or others who may have a lot of difficulty with the transition. Make a schedule board with real objects representing each activity. For example, a cup may represent lunch, a cassette tape may represent music, a toy may represent free play. A small book may represent story time. These objects can be velcroed to the board. When it is time to begin an activity the child goes to get the object off the board. When the activity is finished the child puts the object into a bucket. This helps the child to have a visual to remind him what comes next. The action of removing the object signifies a definite beginning and putting the object in the bucket signifies a definite ending to the activity. This may also help the child to feel he has some control over the situation.

At the end of each day, my floor is quite cluttered from art projects, snacks, etc. I quickly eyeball a scrap on the floor and then announce, “My…I think I see a “MAGIC SCRAP” on the floor!” The children scurry around and pick up all of the scraps from the floor and I keep an eye out to see who picks up the “MAGIC SCRAP”. I stand near the garbage can and observe that all of the scraps make it into the garbage. As soon as all of the students are back in their seats, I announce the name of the student that found the MAGIC SCRAP. This student gets to choose a sticker or an M&M or some other small prize before they go home (Sometimes I keep a checklist to ensure that everyone who plays MAGIC SCRAP gets at least one prize each semester). My room always looks great at the end of the day!

I have found that transitions can be made easy – and fun! – if YOU are calm and in control. You can achieve successful transitions by:

1) warning children 5 – 10 minutes in advance that it will be time to clean up

2) play a specific game to get children out of circle into another activity such as snack, activity centers, lunch, etc. Some of the games I play are “Catch a ______ by the Tail,” “Where is Mousie?”, and “Word Search,” to name a few For details on these games, please feel free to e-mail me! I also ask the children 10 minutes or so before we are to transition what the rules are and how we go about _____ . It works really well for me!

For cleanup time, especially when the kiddos are very high energy, I have discovered that playing “Beat The Clock” with them works wonders! I ask them who’d like to play, gather them in the center of the room and set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes. We then try to get the room clean before the timer goes off!!! Nearly everyone joins in, putting away toys and books, and the room is tidy in usually about 3 minutes!!! A cleanup that would have taken about 10 minutes or more with much grumbling, is done quickly and easily and then we can move on to other things!We also have been gathering in a circle before circle time and looking around the room to talk about what part is the messiest. Then we ask for volunteers, who can ask others to help. Some of the children who hated cleaning before have gotten excited about it when we have them do it this way…. we have some real cleaning superstars! After it’s clean we get in circle again, talk about who cleaned what, applaud everyone, and then proceed with the circle time.

Good Bye Song tune- Are your sleeping?

Teacher: Goodbye children

Children: Goodbye teacher

Teacher: I’ll see you soon.

Children: We’ll see you soon.

Teacher: See you next on (_____)

Children: We’ll see you next on (_____)

Teacher: We’ll work and play.

Children: We’ll work and play.

Clean Up Song tune-Twinkly Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle little star

Time to clean up where you are

Put each toy back in its place

Keep a smile on your face

Twinkle, twinkle little star

Time to clean up where you are.

I give my kids “quiet juice” before naptime to get them settled.They use their fisted hand as the cup. After they drink their quiet juice they have to be very quiet. Another method I use is to sprinkle “whispering magic” when they get too loud. It really works!!

Early childhood classroom teachers may not need to do much “digging” to find an excellent source of classical music for their children. I recommend the teachers to check into their local Public Radio station for classical programming. Our local station, WDAV from Davidson College, even has a program “Mozart Cafe” from noon to 2:00PM – perfect for lunch and rest time! And the best part: IT’S FREE!!!

I give the children specifics saying “Ok Joe you are in charge of the food and Jessica you are in charge of the clothes” or I give them a specific number of items to clean-up.

I play “I spy” with the kids while they wait to go outside. I also play the same game with the photographs that I taped to the wall in the hall.

I have little two & three’s in my daycare, so I like to sing this when it’s storytime:

(Sing a Song of Sixpence)

It’s time to watch and listen,

We’re going to read a book.

We’ll sit down on the rug

And use our eyes to look.

We’ll look at pictures,

And hear the story, too.

Oh, what fun it is to share

This storytime with you!

For other circle time activities I might use:

(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.

“Instant Silence Song”Use your own tune to this verse that silences my 4-year-olds instantly.

My friend is “Tori”

My friend is “Tori

“T – O – R – I

My friend is “Tori”

Have the child stand while you are singing “their” song. Several of my students have learned to spell their name.

For clean-up time for the 4-year old class I work with at daycare we use the “clean-up” flag. One student is chosen to be clean-up flag helper and their job is to go from center to center telling the students to clean-up. We have found students respond very well to their peers telling them to clean-up. Once the clean-up flag helper tells the center they have successfully cleaned up he/she gives them permission to go to circle/meeting time. It is amazing the results you get from this!

Our favorite ways to encourage the children to clean up is to 1. play FREEZE CLEAN and 2. GO SHOPPING.FREEZE CLEAN: We have the children clean when the lights are on but when we turn them off the children must freeze in whatever position they are in. If you don’t want to use lights then you can play music while they clean and have them freeze when the music is off. (Kind of like musical chairs, almost.)GO SHOPPING: We give each of the children a plastic grocery bag and tell them that they are going shopping but they can only buy toys that are on the floor and table. We let the children “shop” until all the toys are gone (only the toys that were taken out.). Then we come together and discuss how Mommy and Daddy put away their groceries when they come home and now it is time for us to put our groceries away. Sometimes this takes some time but the children enjoy it. It ensures that all the children have something to put away.

I have found a fun way to get the children’s attention during transition times. I begin playing a game called “If You’re Listening to Me”. It is similar to Simon Says but I begin each phrase with “If you’re listening to me…” then fill in various directions like …touch your nose, …put your hands on your hips, etc. I lead the group and before you know it everyone is playing along giving you their undivided attention. Then it is easy to sneak in any other instructions.

At lunchtime, here is the poem we say:

We play together

We learn together

We share together

And we eat together

Because we are all friends

Let’s eat.

It gets the children all set to eat.

For transitions, I have several favorites.  I have a “question jar” loaded with simple questions that pertain to each weekly unit we are doing. Each child gets to pull a question out of the jar to answer. They are questions like “What color is your shirt?’ or How old are you? etc..

For clean up time, I have an old record called “Chicken Fat” which is actually an exercise record. One side is instrumental and has a great marching beat to it. The idea is to have clean up done and be back to the circle rug BEFORE the record is over. (it’s about 6 minutes long).

My class loves both of these activities!

Play “Simon Says.”

Try playing “I Spy”–great game when learning colors!

Play “Do What I Do” and the children mirror your actions.

Also, an attention-getter I have used before is: “If you can hear my voice, snap your fingers…if you can hear my voice snap your fingers…etc.”, until you have everyone’s attention–(speak in a very soft voice.)

When I take Kinder or Pre-Kinder students walking in the hall, we prepare by singing the following (tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It):

When we’re walking in the hall, we’re very quiet!

When we’re walking in the hall, we’re very quiet!

When we’re walking in the hall, we’re very, very quiet!

And we never, never, ever push our neighbors!

Seems like anytime I neglect this step we have problems! The 1/2 minute it takes to prepare the kids pays off in the end!

The Laughing Handkerchief

Toss a colorful handkerchief in the air and ask 2-3 children to help out by laughing, stomping, or clapping as loud as they can while the handkerchief is in the air- then stop when it hits the ground. It won’t be long until everyone’s attention is on you and your group.

At tidy up time, we sing…

Now its time to tidy up, tidy up,

Now its time to tidy up and put your work away.

Again…a tune of its own

To get the children to come to circle time we sing…

Let’s sit for story (or circle)

For story, for story,

Let’s sit for story,

Please come and sit with me.

(at this point children start to arrive and we sing)..

Bobby is at story, at story, at story

Bobby is at story, he came to sit with me

(and so on til you name everyone is sitting down)

I am sorry I can’t tell you the tune, it has one of its own. Just make one up as you go and you’ll sound fine!

I’m Glad You Came to School Sung to: The Farmer in the Dell

I’m glad (child’s name) came to school,

I’m glad (child’s name) came to school,

We’ve planned lots of fun for you,

I’m glad (child’s name) came to school,

Music Time Is Here Sung to: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

(Child’s name) sing, sing with me.

Sing out loud and clear

To tell the children everywhere

That Music time is here.

Clean Up Song Sung to: London Bridges

(Child’s name) put the toys away

Toys away, toys away.

(Child’s name) put the toys away.

It’s cleanup time.

Additional verses: Substitute toys with puzzles, books, blocks, etc.

I teach four-year-olds. We learn a new shape each month. I usually have four centers each day. Each center is labeled with a color to start. I chose red, blue, yellow and green. The labels are cut in the shape for the month. These colors correspond to colored clothespins in a bucket. At the end of circle time when we’re ready for centers, each child chooses a clip — without peeking, of course — from the bucket. They then know which center to go to ie; the yellow square is free play, blue square is playdough, etc. After I’m finished with the children who came to the teacher directed center, the bell ringer for that day rings the bell. I move the center colors around the room clockwise saying, “If you have a blue clip, follow the blue square to playdough. If you’re wearing a yellow clip, come to when I am.”, etc. This allows each child to visit every center every day and helps them learn to get along with a different small group each day, too.

Sometimes it is hard to get the attention of the children during busy times. My students know when they hear the “Magic Button”, it is time to stop and listen.

My magic button is one of those small, round musical buttons from a craft store. They come in a variety of songs and even include holiday songs. It only takes one child to stop and listen, and soon, they all are quiet and listening!

In a preschool setting, I have found a great way to work through the transition between free play and hand washing (for lunchtime) is to get all of the children in a circle and sing “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” Whenever a child’s name is called and they choose another child, they then go directly to the bathroom. This works great for large groups and only takes about 5 minutes to play. The song is as follows: Group: “Kelley stole the cookie from the cookie jar” Kelley: “Who me?” Group: “Yes you!” Kelley: “No way!” Group: “Then who?” Then Kelley chooses another child and it goes from there. It is a very easy transition and saves the bathroom from being bombarded by all of the children at once. And, best of all, the children really love it!!!

One I like to use to line my children up to leave the room is from Every Day Songs.

Quiet, Quiet Let’s be Quiet (Three times)

We want it very Quiet

Stand up, Stand up and be quiet (Three Times)

We’re standing and we’re quiet

Slowly, Slowly get in line now (Three Times)

We’re getting into line now

Softly, softly walking (Three Times)

We’re walking very softly

I Have Something In My Pocket

This transition works great for my preschool class!! it’s sung to the tune of

“I Have Something In My Pocket”

I have a special little blue (pick a color the child is wearing) box,

I’d put (child’s name) in,

I’d take him/her out, and X X X(smooch kiss, 3X)

And put him/her back again,

(child’s name), (child’s name), go and wash your hands.

I Spy

When you want one or two children at a time to transition to another activity, play I Spy. For example: “I spy someone who is wearing……….”. When the mystery person is revealed, they can then go to the next activity.

Clean Up Time

If you have windows in your classroom (you would not want to do this if there was no outside light source) try turning off the lights and sing this song:

(Sung to Oh My Darlin Clementine)

Freeze freeze

Time to clean up

Time to clean up pleeezzzeeeee

Let’s all help to clean our classroom

So we can go to circle time (or next activity in your schedule)

Turn the lights back on.

Two of my favorite transitions (from a Head Start workshop in 1994). These worked well with my preschoolers then and worked well with my 1st graders last year. Both of these are chants-clapping or snapping fingers helps.

If you want to hear a story this is what you’ve got to do,

Got to sit on the rug like the pretzels do.

So find your place, and clap your hands,

so your teacher’ll know that you understand

That’s Right! (That’s right)

That’s Right!

You need to listen, need to look and see, if your name

is _________, come and stand by me!

(or “if you’re wearing (color), or many other variations)

Transition Songs

One little, two little, three little children

four little, five little, six little children,

seven little, eight little, nine little children,

All in the circle. (we have a circular rug we call “the circle”)

To*( large group) time we go,

To large group time we go,

Heigh Ho, the Dairy-oh,

To large group time we go.

(change times of the day as appropriate)

Another song they love to sing as we’re walking back inside from outside

time is:

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah…

Time For Circle: Sung to Oh, My Darling Clementine

Time for circle, time for circle,

Time for circle time today,

Let’s sit down, let’s be quiet,

Wonder what we will do today?

If Your Are Wearing Green, Wash Your Hands: Sung to If Your Happy And You Know It

If you are wearing green, wash your hands,

If your are wearing green, wash your hands,

If your are wearing green,

If your are wearing green,

If your are wearing green, wash your hands!

(Substitute other colors for green. You can also substitute other activities.)

It’s Time To Clean Up: Sung to Happy Birthday

It’s time to clean up Let’s pick up the blocks

It’s time to clean up Let’s pick up the blocks

It’s time to clean up Let’s pick up the blocks

It’s time to clean up Let’s pick up the blocks

(Substitute other areas in your classroom)

Preschool Transitions Between Activities

General Tips For Transition Times

1. There is no one right way to carry out transition time. There are many ways to make things easier, more pleasant, depending on your situation. Experiment!

2. Think through transition times and problem-solve what might go wrong. Be preventive.

3. Make sure children know the routine. Follow the routine long enough so that the children are familiar with it and know what they are supposed to do.

4. Be sure the daily routine has a minimum of major transitions. Many of the transitions in your program are unavoidable, but there might be some you could change which would make the day a little easier.

5. Designate meeting places for major transition times so that children know where to go next.

6. Let children help you make up ways of moving from one place or activity to the next. Tie in moving with your theme or topic for the week. The transition is more fun this way.

7. Begin activities without long, initial waiting periods; have your materials ready or let children help you prepare the activity.

8. Use make-believe as a means of dealing with transitions and periods of waiting; when absorbed in make-believe games, time passes rapidly for children.

9. Fingerplays are great at any time of the day to get wiggles out and to release pent-up energy, and to keep children active and interested while waiting.

10. Give a 5-minute warning about the transition. Help the children finish activities by alerting them to the reasons for a change. Respect the children’s time and work by giving opportunities to finish work later on or to repeat an activity.

11. Try not to announce a change. Sometimes announcements cause chaos; everyone moves at once when it is not even time. Mention your change to a few children at a time and help them to get ready for the transition.

12. Make the best use of staffing and helpful children to avoid everyone changing at exactly the same time. Children can learn to help each other and you, and make the transition a time of working together.

13. Talk to the children about what is happening next, especially if there is a change in the routine.

14. Develop your own bag of tricks for the times the unexpected occurs, when a planned activity does not last as long as you thought it would or does not interest the children.

15. Flexibility and a sense of humor can help when nothing goes right! Think about how you will handle it the next time.

Arrival Time Transitional Activities

Children arrive at your program in a variety of moods–energetic and ready to go; half-asleep and grumpy; upset and crying. If you can use this transition time as an opportunity to talk to parents, your whole day will be better. A parent might communicate necessary information. such as a child’s lack of sleep, which will help you to adjust for the child that day. You can also make parents feel more comfortable about the separation by helping them say goodbye to the child, getting the child involved and letting the parent know s/he can call you back later to find out how the child is doing.

Have simple, easily supervised activities, such as playdough, available for those who are ready for activity so that you can spend time with the crying child. Offer enough selections, but close off areas which require more supervision than you can provide. Have some children help you with mixing the paint or setting the breakfast table. Giving children who have the skills and energy real jobs to do can make the early morning easier and more pleasant.

Transitional Activities For Moving From One Activity To Another

These are times teachers get worried about group control and become more regimented. Look for ways to make such times more fun for you and the children. Use transition activities that move a few people at a time; this cuts down on confusion from mass movement and boredom from long waiting periods.

Ways to move can relate to the theme or topic of the week. They can also promote skills and social development. Some examples are:

‘If you are sitting next to Ann, you may hop like a rabbit to lunch.”

“When I hold up a card with your name on it. you may go wash your hands.”

“Let’s move with a partner to the playground.”

When there is no way to avoid mass movement and waiting times, lead the children in songs or fingerplays while you are getting ready. Use children as helpers–tying shoes, putting on coats, leading songs. If you have a very young group, get an older child from another group to help you. Show children that waiting times can he fun when you use a little imagination (and you do not have to wait too long). Some examples are:

A Transition Poem

Caterpillars bump

Worms wiggle

Bugs jiggle

Rabbits hop

Horses clop

Puppies bounce

Kittens pounce

Lions stalk

But . . .

I walk

Walking Robots

See the little walking robots

See them walk, walk, walk

See them walking in a row.

(You can substitute jump, hop or other ways of moving)

Cleanup time

Children and teachers often feel very frustrated about cleanup time and aggravated with each other when it is finally over. Not only that, but the teacher still has a lot of cleaning up to do. To make the cleanup time easier, make sure children know where everything goes and that shelves are easy to reach. When appropriate, encourage children to clean up as they go along (wiping up a spill, completing a puzzle). Start a little earlier on difficult jobs–the block area, for example. Give yourself enough time for cleaning up. Give a warning and perhaps a signal–“In 5 minutes it will be time to clean up.” Let the children know what happens after cleanup. This gives them something to look forward to. “As soon as we clean up, we are going to play musical instruments.” Help children decide what needs to be picked up, especially on messy days. Encourage the idea of working together by working along with the children.

Use cleanup songs and games:

Airplanes flying the blocks over to the shelf

Busy bees at work

Elephants carrying toys with their trunks

Cleanup robots

Hopping rabbits carrying carrots back to their home

Cranes lifting and lowering blocks on shelves

Santa’s putting toys in pack and carrying it to shelves

Garbage truck pickup

Children can play many different roles at cleanup time or use objects in the room, such as boxes, chairs or trucks to help them clean up. For a child who is having difficulty, give him order a choice of 2 areas to clean up. You might have to choose for the child and then leave the child with the expectation that in order to do the next activity, the area must be cleaned. (Sometimes giving a lot of attention for not cleaning up encourages a child not to clean up.) Designate a meeting place for children after cleaning up so that they do not end up in another area and mess up what has been cleaned. Have something simple to do for those who have finished, such as listening to music or reading a book. Keep waiting time short. If you are having a circle activity after cleanup time, get started when most of the children are ready. Another adult can stay with those who have not finished. Remember that all of us have our off days as far as cleaning up, so look at your expectations to see if they are realistic.

Restroom Time

Toileting time, particularly after lunch, can be chaotic. Cut down as much as you can on the time children have to wait in line. After children understand the routine, you can have different activities going on at once rather than everyone doing the same thing. Some children can be Toileting, some wiping off lunch tables and others brushing their teeth. How much you want to have going on at once would depend upon your center setup, particularly the number of staff people. Since waiting in line for some of the time is unavoidable, try simple make-believe games, riddles, songs and fingerplays which you can start and children can continue while you unstop a toilet or clean up the floor.

“Going to the Zoo”–say to children, I’m going to the zoo and I’m going to . . . (hop like a rabbit). How are you going 10 get there?” Children take turns responding as to how they would get to the zoo.

“My Ship Went Sailing”–say to the children, “My ship went sailing and it carried some . . . (bananas).” Children take turns telling what their ships would carry.

“Classification Game”–have children name all the animals, all the food, all the things that fly, etc., that they can think of.

“Body Parts Guessing Game”–“I can see you with my ____. I can hear you with my_____. Etc.

Circle and Large Group Transitions

Circle activities can help everyone to get ready for the next part of the routine, as well as help children feel part of the group. Circle times can also be another transitional problem if: the teacher is not prepared and keeps the children waiting; there is not enough space for everyone; activities prepared are not appropriate for the particular age or a large group; the children are forced, rather than invited to participate; guidelines for group time behavior are not clear. A big problem often occurs when group times are too long. Plan realistically for the group’s attention span. Ask the children for their ideas for group time activities. A group time can also be used to help with the other transitions. For example, during a group time after breakfast, you can talk to the children about morning activities, have a few at a time select an activity and move to it while another teacher is setting up.

Getting ready for group time

Often you can start right into a song or fingerplay while a few children are still talking and you get everyone’s attention quickly. On other occasions, some “quieting downers” are required.

“Let’s open our cars.” (pretend to turn on imaginary knobs at cars)

“Let’s put on our listening hats.” (you could use real or imaginary hats)

“Let’s stretch our ears like long rabbit ears so we can hear really well.”

“Let’s row, row, row our boats to Storyland.” (sing Row, row, row your boat several times, getting quieter each time until singing has reached a whisper)


I’ll wiggle my fingers and wiggle my toes,

I’ll wiggle my arms and wiggle my nose.

And now that all the wiggles are out,

We’ll listen to what circle’s about.

My Fingers

I stretch my fingers away up high

Until they almost reach the sky.

I lay them in my lap and you see

Where they’re as quiet as they can


Ten Little Fingers

I have 10 little fingers and they all belong to me (hands upright)

I can make them do things, would you like to see?

I can shut them up tight (fists) or open them wide,

I can put them together or make them all hide (closed fists together)

I can make them jump high (swing hands above head)

Or make them go low (swing hands down low)

I can fold them up quickly and hold them just so (hands in lap).

Field trips

Talk about the trip you are taking and what the children Will see and do several days in advance. Teach songs and fingerplays and tell stories that relate to the trip. These can be used during field trip transitions, such as during the ride. Sometimes it is a good idea to have large motor or outside activities before the field trip. Have one adult helping some children to finish up the activities before the field trip and another adult taking others outside to play for a few minutes or to get in the van. If you have a group time before the field trip, keep it short. Moving a few children at a time onto the van or into the car will save confusion. Think of fun ways to get on the van that will help cut down on the pushing and shoving.

“Let’s be ghosts floating on board the ghostly bus.”

“Let’s be fish and swim into the car.”

“The busy bees are going on a trip away from the beehive. Buzz!”

Have adults stationed to help the children get in the vehicle and also to help with the seat belts. Make use of children helping other children with seat belts. A seat belt countdown can assist in getting everyone ready. “We are taking off, so fasten your seat belts– 10, 9,8………..

On the road, talk more about what will happen when you arrive. Look for different colors, pictures, numbers, and letters on road signs. Look for tagalongs–vehicles with attachments (U-Hauls, boats, trailers). Have the children imagine they are someplace, perhaps wherever you are going on your trip and talk about what you will see. Help the driver drive with imaginary steering wheels (remind the children that the vehicles you are driving have had tune-ups so the motors run quietly). Play word games–rhyming words, opposites, long words or short words. Use songs, games and fingerplays the children learned during group time.

Departure Time

The end of the day can have its own problems just as the beginning of the day often does. Trying to talk to parents, help the children get their belongings together and keep an eye on other children is often hectic. Sometimes children have as hard a time leaving as they do arrive and they and their parents might need some help from you. You can have simple, quiet activities, such as table games, story records and flannel board stories to help put the children in a relaxed mood before departure time. You can also let children know that it is close to going home time and help them think of things to tell or show their parents. When parents arrive, teachers can let them know how their children’s day went. Try to pass on specific, as well as some positive information that will help a parent and child with this transition. One way to aid with departure time is to use children as helpers for end-of-the-day chores. That way you do not have a lot of extra cleaning to do after the children leave.


Preschool Transitions Between Activities