Learning to transition is one of the essential skills children learn in preschool. However, it can sometimes be a daunting task. Let's face it, very young students get bored easily and they haven't yet developed the skills to transition quickly and quietly. But that's where PreK teachers come in!
By using different fun and engaging transition activities, we can teach children how to transition smoothly! Below are 20 different activities and ideas for creating successful transitions.
1. Small Group Transition Activity
If you are having difficulty with transitions, especially moving into small groups, try this activity. Have group names that are themed and use photos of the students to change the groups. Students will look for their photos and then know where they should go during the transition.
Learn more: Pre Kinders
2. Sing Transition Songs
Transition songs are a fun way to get kids moving and doing what you want. It also helps to create routines like a lining-up transition ritual. Once children have practiced it enough, they will transition with ease! This resource gives you several different songs to use in your class!
Learn more: First Grade at Last
3. Use Visual Schedules
One easy way to create smooth transitions for preschoolers is the use of a visual schedule. Including a daily schedule for students will help them to be ready for what is next. If a child knows what is happening for the day, then they can be ready for it.
Learn more: Dream Big Little One
4. Provide Visual Time Cards and Charts
We play A LOT in PreK and they need to have a structured way to clean up and transition to the next task. The site provides ideas for visual reminder time cards and step-by-step charts for the clean-up process.
Learn more: Pre-K Pages
5. Sunscreen Station
We often forget about transitioning to outside. This adorable transition station helps preschool-age kids get prepared to go outside while building independence. It also suggests using picture charts to make sure students have dressed appropriately for the outside temperature.
Learn more: The Hanen Centre
6. Lining Up
Pre-k children sometimes have wiggly bodies and struggle to line up. Create colorful footprint pairs that are numbered and stick to the floor. It will model for students appropriate spacing and they will get a line body, which will help hold them accountable in line! Not to mention it will help cut down on transition times.
Learn more: Play to Learn Preschool
7. Quiet Timers
A favorite transition tip that uses listening skills is quiet timers. You can use a chime, rain sticks, or flashing colors to indicate it is time to transition. This allows students to quickly move about and transition when the signal is given.
Learn more: Laura Candler's Teaching Resources
8. Provide Transition Toolkits
This activity apron is not for the kids, but for the classroom teacher. It is best to have a toolkit for transitions. This can include fidgets for those who just can't seem to keep still when waiting in line or a rain stick or anything that makes a soft sound that grabs attention and keeps focus.
Learn more: Learning and Teaching with Preschoolers
9. Between times
These "between times" are perfect for transitioning between tasks. Often students lose focus as they transition and it can lead to chaos. Instead, gets kids thinking with the question cards. They are simple questions to get kids thinking as they walk to the next task. An example is, "What is the third letter in the alphabet?" or "What's a word that rhymes with cat?"
Learn more: Miss Kindergarten
10. Cue Cards
Using cues in transitions is a simple way to get kids engaged and listening! These cue cards by Teachstarter are "call back" cues, where the teacher says one thing and the students "call back" with a response.
Learn more: Teach Starter
11. Countdown Timer
Young children aren't paying attention to the times of lesson transition. When using a countdown timer, there are no surprises. This brightly colored timer is sure to attract pre-k kiddies' attention and lead to a calmer transition from activities.
Learn more: Sharing Kindergarten
12. Action cup
For quick transitions, create an "action cup". Get some popsicle sticks and write down different actions that students can do while transitioning from an activity or to line up. The resource includes a list of transitions if you need some ideas.
Learn more: A Turn to Learn
13. Teach Life Skills with Sequencing Cards
Life skills are so important to learn in preschool! Teach these sequencing cards to children to help them learn about everyday transitions. These cards will help them not only at school but also at home. Plus you can do a variety of sequence themes: going to bed, brushing my teeth, cleaning the center, making a snack, etc
Learn more: Life Over C's
14. Make Transitioning to Snack Time Easier
If you want to make transitioning to snack time easier, while building independence, look no further! This pack helps manage snack time and builds routines. When students know every day what they need to do for a snack, there is little confusion and they can easily transition from start to clean up!
Learn more: Play to Learn Preschool
15. Make a Colorful Preschool Clock
If you need a transition strategy, here is a cool one. We all know transitioning with preschool children can be overwhelming, but this blog gives you tips and tricks for making it more manageable. A favorite is how to use a preschool clock that uses colors and animals!
Learn more: Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds
16. Art Activities
Sometimes we need time to transition between activities and we don't want those little hands to get bored. If you are trying to set up stations or centers, or maybe you need to make an emergency call, these simple art activities can be a lifesaver. Have them ready ahead of time for when you have an unplanned moment.
Learn more: Artful Parent
17. Read Rhymes in Class
If you are looking for activities for children during transition, this resource has it! It includes little rhymes that are easy to learn for hallway transitions. With 11 different rhymes that are simple enough for pre-k-aged children to learn, they will love it!
Learn more: Kindergarten Works
18. Make Line Up Buddies
This idea is a lifesaver for preschool teachers who need to line little up at dismissal. The sticks include prompts and when read, that is how the children line up. For example, you can call by birthday month, hair color, or shirt color. No more fussing at who stands by who is in line or running to the door. Now they will have to be quiet and listen as they are called in small groups to line up.
Learn more: Apples and ABC'S
19. Monster Transition Cards
This resource comes from a therapist and gets students using gross motor skills. She has a large collection of "monster cards" that are great for quick transitions. Plus there are so many different transitions that kids will never get bored!
Learn more: TheraKids
20. Play Music
While this idea comes from an elementary teacher, it can work for any age! Transition kids to music that is linked to the next task. For example, there should be a specific song that when they hear they know it's "time to line up" or another for "moving to the carpet". Each time that song is played, children will know what they need to do.
Learn more: Fourth & Tenth