Transition Ideas

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The GIANT Encyclopedia of Transition Activities for Children 3 to 6

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The GIANT Encyclopedia of Transition Activities for Children 3 to 6


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What to do

The most important thing to remember when working with young children is to be flexible and to take advantage of teachable moments. Transition time can be boring or frustrating to some preschoolers. You have children who listen and follow directions very well, and children who don't listen to directions for any number of reasons. Try some of the following ideas for specific transitions:

  • Two- and One-Minute Warnings: One of the most important lessons is dealing with transitions. Children need a warning system to prepare them. Though children don't necessarily understand what a minute is, say, "Two minutes to cleanup!" After about a minute, say, "One minute to cleanup!" When that minute is up, sing a clean-up song or do another transition to cleanup. Work with them so they know where things belong. By the end of the year, they may do this themselves.
  • Cleanup Song: Adapt the words of this song to a tune you know: It's cleanup time in the school,

Time for girls and boys,
To stop what they are doing,
And put away the toys.

  • Lining Up: Even this can be fun. Call, "Line-up time!" and start counting down as the children run to you and help you count. Encourage them to be in line before you get to zero!
  • Standing in Line: It is important to make this fun. One way is to sing a fun song, such as "The Wheels on the Bus," or another that the children love. You might also try counting the children in a different language. This makes them all feel important, and exposes them to another language at the same time. Children will like to count with you. Another line-up tactic is to remind the children of three hallway rules: walking feet, quiet voices, and hands to your sides or in your pockets. Remind them that these rules are meant to keep them safe. You may want to discuss what might happen if they did not follow these rules, so they appreciate their value.


-Deborah Gallagher, Littleton, NH


1. Use this idea to call roll or dismiss students by having them recite their
2. Print out a poster that reads:
Apples, pears, peaches, plums,
Tell me when your birthday comes!
3. Point to one child and say the rhyme. After that child says when her birthday
is, record them as present, tell her to go wash her hands, go to the snack
table, or any other transition.

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