Everyday teachers work hard to create lessons, teach concepts, and design activities that engage learners. Teachers work hard to build classroom communities that ebb and flow nicely throughout the day.
We all know that being a teacher isn’t solely about having great units or fun games for students to play. There is much more to it. This takes work, creativity, and time.
One important component to address in any classroom management plan is how to help children transition. Transitions are hard for many. Children may not want to stop their current activity or continue to the next. This can be disruptive and noisy.
But transitions can be fun with a little creativity on the part of the teacher. This post shares 5 helpful ways to transition in school. These ideas will help a teacher save time, lighten their work (and stress) load, and bring a little excitement to the day.
Call backs are short, fun sayings used to grab students’ attention quickly. Attention grabbers require that students repeat back something after the teacher. A few personal favourites are “Macaroni and cheese. Everybody freeze” and “One, two, three, eyes on me. One, two, eyes on you!” Each call-and-response has a different purpose so they are great used when necessary. Super useful for transitions!
Having a list or cards with call backs on them handy is helpful. I don’t know about you, but I am a visual person and we know that kids can be too. I post my call backs on the wall in my classroom. We practice our call backs frequently throughout the year, but it’s fun to have them posted so we can remember ones we haven’t used in a while. Having them up is also helpful for subs and parents to see.
Line Up Chants
We all know how children, especially the little ones, touch and talk to others in line, invade personal space, or lose control of their bodies. Line up chants are short songs or sayings to help children line up properly. The chants can have lyrics or words that remind children of what the expectations are. These make great reminders!
My favourite line up chant is “Give me 5. Quiet. Eyes on the speaker. Hands at sides. Standing still. Listening.” This chant and more are available here. Print and hang the chants on your classroom door or shrink and keep on a ring on a door knob. Whatever works best for you. You can find a ton more free chants on Pinterest!
Songs & Music
Songs are great for helping younger children with transitions. They can be about whatever the need is at that moment. I have used songs in the classroom and in my own home with my children to help them with cleaning up, putting toys away, brushing their teeth, washing their hands, and so much more. Singing songs make tasks more fun and enjoyable for kids.
This fun list of 10 chants and songs from Teaching Mama is good for younger children. This extensive list of transition songs by Songs for Teaching is broken down into different types. I would suggest starting with a few songs and add those to your day. Be consistent. Sing them when they naturally fit with your routines. Children will surely find transitioning to be easier.
Sounds would have to be my most used and preferred method for transitions. You can create or use a sound that works for whatever you are doing in your classroom. Certain sounds work better for different things. Quiet sounds are great for calming and before transitioning to a lesson or desk work. Louder sounds are helpful to grab the attention of the class when it is noisy or during busy work.
There are tons of things that could be used to make sounds. I use my own hands to clap, I use this chime, and I use this bell. I love that these 3 things require zero talking or calling out on my part. Students know what each of them means and they respond to them appropriately.
I use my hands to make a short clapping pattern for students to repeat. I vary the strength and level of my claps depending on the current activity. Clapping allows me to grab students attention quickly whenever it is needed. They have to stop their current activity to clap back in response.
I use a chime to help calm and focus my students. I also use it when they are focused on their work and I don’t want to startle them. Each day we sit together as a class (often after recess or lunch) for a brief meditation and deep breathing. The chime creates the perfect sound for students to focus on with each breathe. After the chime rings 3 times, we slowly return our attention to the class and the new activity.
I use a special bell when we are in gym class. This No-Yell Bell allows me to save my voice and get students to stop what they are doing quickly. This bell includes 7 fun sounds that children will love and respond to.
A brain break is taking a break from the current, focused task to do a quick activity. A brain break gets kids out of their seats and using their bodies. A quick 5 minute brain break in between activities is great for giving children a mental break from a harder school task. These are a good choice as a transition because they help students get up and move before starting their next activity.
GoNoodle is free a online site geared towards K-5. It is full of videos that get kids up and moving. Project the videos and interactive activities on a screen for your class to view and participate in. These movement activities are sure to increase engagement and motivation throughout the day!
Another valuable resource for brain breaks are CLASS Brain Breaks. These 76 brain breaks and activities task cards include games, centers, dances, songs, and more. These fun and energetic breaks will get your students out of their seats and moving. Perfect for before and after transitions. Each activity is quick and easy to do!
These 5 helpful ways to transition in school will help students learn to take care of themselves, handle change, and move through life in socially acceptable ways. What is your go-to way to transition?
Social Emotional Development
Looking for more lessons and activities to help with classroom management and social emotional skills? Check out the mind+heart SEL curriculum!