One of the hardest parts of the day in my classroom used to be transitions. I’d tell the kids to clean up and get ready for the next activity, and suddenly little Suzy is crying, Johnny is running laps around the art table, and I’m pulling my hair out trying to bring down the energy level in the classroom to focus on the task at hand. Which seemed simple. Clean up our mess, then meet at circle time.
Children aren’t that simple. Tearing them away from a project or activity like that just doesn’t work. It would be like someone snatching a book from your hand while you were in the middle of a juicy chapter without warning. I’ve realized my student’s need a warning before there is any change. There are many ways to implement this into your routine, and it isn’t fool proof. Some methods work better depending on your group of kids.
This year, we are using a timer method. We set a timer for 5 minutes, for 3 minutes, then finally 1 minute, last timer that goes off is clean up time. As a class, we say together how many minutes we have and hold them up on our fingers. It’s a way for the student’s to feel like they are partially in control, they know what to expect, and its fun to do something together that we all know. For those with a harder time transitioning, sometimes I will ask them to come push the start button on the timer so they are more aware of how much time is left. We usually immediately jump into a song or a quick game before circle actually begins so that the few stragglers are more inclined to join.
This method is best with long activities or stations. Setting a timer for every quick activity would be tedious and redundant. So I’d suggest maybe making a song or phrase to sing/say to grab their attention. Ours is… Teacher: “Hocus Pocus!” I point to them with both index fingers. Students say: “Everybody Focus!” They point to me with both index fingers and we all freeze from the magic words. I’ll then use my moment of their time to let them know we are going to sing a song to clean up together. Usually one we all know, ABC’s, Twinkle twinkle little star, or Twinkle twinkle chocolate bar, something quick and simple. Once the majority have finished, I’ll usually start singing “I like the way that (name) is waiting! I like the way that (another name) is waiting, I like the way that (another name) is waiting, yes I do!” And I repeat, this gets the others to quickly join so their names can be in the song too, and we can move on with the day.
I hope this helps anyone in need of a new idea. Please share your Transition methods in the comments below, what works or doesn’t work for you. If you have any questions or need an idea, don’t hesitate to ask me! Via comments or email.