Kid Activities
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Transition Ideas for Pre-K to Grade 1

July 30, 2009 18:49 by Barbara Shelby


There may be times when children need to move somewhere as a group, such as down a hall to a cafeteria or to the playground. The logistics of a line seems to create opportunities for children to talk with one another and poke and push the student in front of them. The longer they wait before the line actually moves out the door, the more apt they are to get into mischief. 


Walking quietly -- Try having children act like their favorite animal: have them be a mouse--- and then ask them to walk as quietly as mice down the hallway.

You can also ask them to tiptoe down the hallway. Pretend there is a family of sleeping bears in the hall. Tell the children, “We don’t want to wake the sleeping bears. Let’s tiptoe very quietly!” These are good activities to use as you go to specials and walk past open classroom doorways.

  • You could wave a "magic" wand and turn them all into butterflies, or perhaps horses. Maybe you have some "fairy dust" (a tiny bit of glitter) in a bag to sprinkle around the children that causes them to be airplanes or to ride motorcycles. Maybe they are "walking on clouds" or "swimming" to the playground.


Send half of your children to line up and then have a teacher/caregiver take them to wherever they are going. As soon as they begin to move out of the classroom, tell the rest of the students to line up and then follow the others. This step eliminates having children waiting and decreases their opportunities for getting in mischief.


Play a follow the leader game where a child takes a turn doing a physical movement such as hop on one foot or touch a wrist to an ear, and the other children copy him/her.

  • You can sing a song with it to the tune of "London Bridges".
  • Tyler, show us what to do, what to do, what to do. Tyler show us what to do. Tell us when to stop.
  • Tyler then demonstrates an action such as jumping. When he says, "stop", all the children are to stop, and Tyler chooses the next person to take a turn.
  • This works really well as a self-esteem builder and can be used to move children outside or down a hall.


Have children line up in two lines near your door. One line can face the door directly and the other line can run perpendicular to the first one. Designate a name or color (such as red and yellow) for each line and alternate as you ask students to line up. Call on two children and send one to the red line and the other to the yellow line. You also can place some colored tape on the floor to give students spatial and visual clues. Shorter lines mean that students have less time to wait before they can start moving out of the room.


Plan transition themes which meet the needs and interests of children in care. Continue to use the transition theme until the children tire of it. Then think up a way carry out transitions in a new manner when the old one grows uninteresting. An idea from the book, Transition Magician--is to use themes in a box or basket. For example, have children each draw an object out of the box, and then line up by type of object. If it's shapes, all Circles line up--now all squares line up, etc.
      • Circles              Red
      • Triangles          Green
      • Squares            Blue          
      • Rectangles        Yellow


Marshmallow Toes: Tell children to line up quietly like marshmallows

   Walking through the hallways,
   Everyone quietly goes...
   Being respectful all the way…
   Walking on our Marshmallow Toes…



  • By Color: Line up if you’re wearing the color red; line up if you’re wearing blue, etc.
  • By anything: Line up if you have a tooth missing; line up if you have brown hair, etc.
  • By birthday month: Line up if you were born in August; line up if you were born in September, etc.


Randomly CHOOSE NAMES FROM A BASKET to send a few children at a time to line up. Reverse  the order the next time so that children who were called on last will be called on first the next day.


Spell students' names aloud and allow them to line up when they recognize their name.


This can be played in a circle, a line, or as a "Bunny, Kangaroo or Froggie Says____" game.
Give children a variety of "hopping" commands such as:

  • Hop in one place.
  • Hop and turn in a circle at the same time.    
  • Hop on left/right foot.
  • Hop backwards, sideways; make a square or circle.
  • Hop over a line.
  • Hop with a partner.
  • Hop quietly to line up.


To start Circle Time, appeal to children's imagination.

Example: There’s a little bear that lives in a cave (a puppet in a paper sack).

  • When it's time for group time, go to the circle area and quietly announce that Little Bear is about to come out.
  • Kids hurry over, but they know he's shy and will only appear if everyone is quiet.
  • When Little Bear comes out, he has a math problem to solve and asks kids to help.
  • It's the perfect segue."


While waiting with a group of children... USE SONGS AND FINGER PLAY

  • Write simple finger plays and songs on 3" x 5" index cards.
  • You can hole- punch a corner and hook them onto a key chain ring. They will fit easily into a pocket so that you can pull them out and lead the children in a finger play or singing activity.
  • Finger plays and songs are not only fun, but they also enable children to practice playing with language and rhythm.


To tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"

If you're ready to move along-stand in line (clap , clap)
If you're ready to move along-stand in line (clap , clap)
If you're standing in the line then be (whisper) very very quiet
If you're standing in the line be (whisper) very quiet.

With the next verse use body movement.

If you're standing in the line blink your eyes (blink,blink)
If you're standing in the line blink your eyes (blink,blink)
If you're standing in the line then be (whisper) very very quiet
If you're standing in the line be (whisper) very quiet.
Continue with different movements such as touch your toes, turn around, etc.


Music is a very effective tool in providing transitions for kindergarten children. Play some sort of silly song such as "The Chicken Dance" to signify a transition  is coming. Children are naturally drawn to music. They enjoy singing songs they know have a specific meaning when it's time to pick up toys or other things.


Entice students with a music and movement activity.

  • These can include different forms of dancing, such as the Mexican hat dance, the Hora, an Irish jig, salsa, line dancing, and hip hop, etc.
  • You can also engage students in circle games, such as The Farmer in the Dell, Bluebird, Ring around the Rosie, and London Bridge, etc.
  • After moving about for a few minutes, students can be asked to sit right where they are on the rug to listen to a story or engage in a lesson. (pre-K-1)


Start telling a story in a very quiet voice. There is something about a low, quiet voice that seems to draw children’s attention. We often read aloud to students, but we seldom just tell stories. (pre-K to grade 5)


Allow children to go to centers when they are finished eating snack. While this may appear to entice students to hurry up and eat so that they can play, it often levels out after the first week. This step allows students to eat at a pace they are accustomed to without being pressured to hurry up by the children who eat more quickly.


Encourage children who finish their work early to read silently or go to the reading center to listen to books on tape or do silent sustained reading. (pre-K-Gr.5)


Direct students to the computer center to work quietly with a program that you have set up for them.


Disruptions to the environment can occur when children finish activities early. Providing transition activities for children during these times can help to prevent problems from arising. Consider posting a list of activities -using pictures for younger children- or putting out “special” transition items--so that children may look and choose from them.



Something a little different from Teaching Ideas -good for ages 5 to 8


Many teachers stuggle to get their students quiet in the hallway.
I started a rubber-band ball and anytime we get a compliment from an adult in the hallway, we get to add a rubberband to the rubberband ball.
They LOVE it and it is very inexpensive. I now have the quietest classroom in the hallway! (Comment: You may need to alert other teachers of your method-so they will give compliments as earned!) 

 Directions for making a RUBBER BAND BALL from Craft Ideas Category...

1.  Give each child a sheet of aluminum foil; have them crumple it into a ball.
2.  Take 1 rubber band at a time and twist it around the foil many times to cover the aluminum foil; the more rubber bands the bigger the ball.
3.  Continue until the ball is the desired size and no more rubber bands will fit on the ball.
4.  When the ball is complete, the kids will have a high bouncing ball!


This isn't a transition activitiy--but sure helps out!

1-2-3... THEN ASK ME...

In using this tool you not only free some of your time --but most importanly-- build a sense of room community and altruism. You eventually will have children helping children!

If Tommy can’t tie his shoe and he comes to you---question to see if he asked three of his friends to help. If no—say, “Tommy needs help in tying his shoe…can someone help?”

This will NOT embarrass the child as it will be part of program routine and he’ll learn from his friend. In  things that Tommy can do--he will return the favor and  assist others when  asked.

For this to work it needs to be consistent. (Post a sign with the 1-2-3 as a reminder) Yes, it does work.  Children become a more cohesive unit, independent, and self esteem soars as they learn from and help each other!

I never had an instance when there wasn't a child that would not assist another child. With consistency- it soon would become part of program routine.



#1.  Have children take a piece of tape when they come in every day and put it on their chairs. That's their "spot." If you have the need to calm things down during the session... or transition from one activity to another, tell everyone,
"Let's sit on our spots!" When they get there say, "Let's freeze on our spots."

#2.  Have everyone stand up. Give each child two pieces of easily removable tape about 8" long to put on the floor in an X shape. Tell them, "This is your spot. Can you stand on it please?"

Now--- ask them to DO VARIOUS MOTIONS, such as,

"Can you stand on one leg on your spot?"... Or...
"Can you touch your spot with three parts of your body?" Or...
"Can you hold hands with somebody on another spot while still touching yours?" Do four or five variations.

When finished, be sure to say, "Let's all clean up our spots" and have them remove the tape from the floor and throw it away.

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