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Simple Preschool Transition Activities

written by: Kara Bietz • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 10/10/2012

Use these transition ideas between activities. Preschool teachers will find quick and easy ideas they can use to make transition time run smoothly!

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    Making Transitions Easy

    Transition times are often the most difficult time for teachers during the preschool day. With a classroom full of children all moving at one time, it is easy to lose control of the group. They offer plentiful opportunities for teachers to notice inappropriate student behaviors. With a little bit of planning and practice, these times can be just as structured as the rest of the day. Below are several transition ideas between activities. Preschool age children thrive on routine, so feel free to use these activities daily.

    Moving To A Quiet Activity: If children are transitioning from a noisy activity to a quiet one, such as circle time, it is important to remind them of this. It is not an easy task, at four years of age, to calm the body down and keep the wiggles out. Try these simple songs and activities to call your children to circle time:

    It's Time To Sit On The Rug (Sung to The Farmer in the Dell)

    It's time to sit on the rug!

    It's time to sit on the rug!

    It's time to sit and clap your hands,

    It's time to sit on the rug!

    Continue to sing and clap rhythmically while all the children are gathering on the rug. As each child joins the circle, make your voice and your clapping just a little bit quieter until you are just mouthing the words and pretending to clap. Encourage the children to join you in the quiet singing and clapping. When all children are sitting, "sing" through the song one more time. When the song is over, thank the children for their help in getting everyone to the rug so quickly and begin your circle time.

    Looking for top-secret transition ideas? Preschool children love secrets! Try whispering in each child's ear, privately, when it is time for circle time. Give them detailed instructions and invite them to sit on the rug. For example, whisper something like this: "Lauren, it's time to put away the puzzle and sit on the circle-time rug criss-cross-applesauce with your hands in your lap. Shh! It's a secret!" Try to whisper to each child in the class individually.

    Transitions to Meal Times: Ideally, a large group circle-time activity will precede meal times. Try moving children from circle time to meal times in small groups. This is a wonderful time to review colors and letters, also. For example, say: "All the children wearing a red shirt may wash their hands for lunch!" or "All the children whose names start with the letter R may wash their hands for lunch!" If you are working cooperatively with another teacher, it may be necessary for the other adult to station themselves at the hand washing sink to move the process along quicker.

    End of the Day Transitions: It is important for children to receive a goodbye at the end of the day. For your end-of-the-day large group circle time, try these songs.

    Goodbye (Sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)

    We are leaving,

    We are leaving,

    To our house,

    To our house.

    Today is __________

    Tomorrow is ________

    See you soon.

    See you soon.

    Goodbye (Sung to the tune of Goodnight Ladies)

    Goodbye, Jason

    Goodbye, Ryan

    Goodbye, Mary

    We'll see you all tomorrow!

    (Repeat the song for each child in your class. Encourage the children to sing along and wave goodbye to their friends.)

    With a bit of planning, your transition times do not have to equal chaos. Keep a file box of transition ideas, and share them with other teachers. They'll have plenty of ideas to spark your creativity, too, no doubt!