Transitions in kindergarten can be a great opportunity for students to practice different skills. Get ideas for transitions activities for your kindergarten classroom.
During the school day, we transition in and out of the classroom, from one part of the day to the next and from one activity to another. These transitions can sometimes lead to a bit of chaos in the classroom.
There can be several reasons why students have difficulty with transitions:
- the unstructured time is seen as a ‘free for all’;
- there are no clear expectations or they do not understand the expectations during transition times;
- they are entertaining themselves and do not have an appropriate outlet.
These transition times during the day does not have to be time lost in the classroom.
By setting clear expectations, and bringing the learning to your transition time, they can become a great time for teaching or reinforcing different skills.
There are times during the day when you may have just a few seconds or minutes, and sometimes the transition could be 5 or more minutes long. In this blog post, I am sharing with you some different strategies you can use during these times.
Short Transitions in Kindergarten
Usually these short transitions happen when you are waiting in line to leave the classroom. If you find that you are having to wait a couple of minutes for something, there are a few things that you can do to use this time purposefully:
- Sing a song: I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee or Sticky, Sticky Bubblegum are some of my favourites.
- Play a few rounds of Show Me. This fun game can work on a number of different skills: “Show me a square”, “Show me the number 2”, “Show me the letter M“. Students use their fingers to represent the shape, letter, or number.
- Do a Listen and Repeat activity: “If you can hear me clap twice”, “If you can hear me put a finger on your nose”, “If you can hear me show me 3 fingers”.
- Play I Spy: “I spy something shaped like a triangle”, “I spy a rectangular prism”, “I spy something with the number 2 on it”, “I spy an AB pattern”.
If you have 5 or minutes in your transition, this is a great time to do a mindfulness break or some breathing exercises. I discovered the book Breathe Like a Bear (affiliate link) that is perfect for this.
You can pick a page at random, have one picked out ahead of time, or have a student pick out an animal breath to do. This book is so great to have on hand.
I try to avoid regularly having transitions that are 10 or more minutes long, but sometimes they are inevitable. For times like this, I have my Number Talk cards at the ready and we can do a number talk while we are waiting (I also have a Digitial Number Talk you can check out).
I have a video showcasing how I do Number Talks with my students. They love doing them, and are eager to participate in them!
Another fun game that I like to play with my students is Disappearing Man (I don’t actually know if this is the real name- it’s just what I call it!). It’s basically hangman in reverse.
I start off by drawing a stick figure on a whiteboard. Then I pick a word in my mind (a vocabulary words that we are working on, days of the week, months, seasons, sight words are all great choices). I make a line for each letter of the word (so summer would get 6 lines). Students start to guess letters that the word could contain. If they guess right, I write the letter on the corresponding line. If they get the letter wrong, I write it on the bottom of the whiteboard and erase something from the drawing (so the stick figure might lose an arm). We keep going until they are able to guess the word, or the whole drawing has disappeared.
My students LOVE this game, and they get into playing. The more we play, the better they get. I also talk about really thinking about which word it could be- and not just to keep guessing random letters. This is a hard concept for them to understand, but once they start really thinking about the words- they get better.
What are your favourite transition activities? Let me know in the comments! I am always looking for new ways to keep students engaged during those times of the day.