Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"T" is for Transition Tips!

Can you believe it!? The Teach Preschool Facebook page hit 20,000 followers yesterday!  In honor of this momentous occasion Deborah challenged us to come up with the ABC's of Teaching Preschool!  If you would like to see the full list of posts head on over to Teach Preschool.  I'm focusing on my one teeny, tiny letter..."T"...

ABC's of Teaching Preschoolers

...Yup..."T" is for Transition Tips!  When you are an early childhood teacher teaching within an elementary school, transitions can be a bit tricky sometimes!  Occasionally you get a few looks from those neat and tidy 3rd grade teachers who have their children in nice neat lines!   Sometimes they just look at you with pity in their eyes!   

I try to respect the environment we share with the elementary school, while keeping in mind that it is not appropriate to expect young children to stay completely quiet or in a perfect line (or circle...or bunch) while transitioning!  Generally, moving as an entire group is left for those "have to" times within the hallway.  Otherwise, we move one or two at a time if we MUST transition from one area to another in a semi-orderly way!  Here are some of the tips I follow most when we are transitioning, both within the classroom and when leaving the room.
  1. Use fun, easy to grab and cheap transition props!  A "magic star" is perfect for saying a quick "Bippity, Boppity, Boo...David may wash his hands too!"  As you say this you tap the magic star wand on the child's shoulder and that child may then go to the area you have named.  A bumblebee puppet works for "Hickety Pickety Bumblebee who can say their name for me." The child then says his/her name and transitions to the area you name.  When it's raining I pull out my ladybug umbrella and open it up.  Each child gets a turn to hold the umbrella while we sing "It's raining it's pouring, (David) was snoring, he went to bed, bumped his head and didn't get up until morning!"  After a child has a turn to hold the umbrella and we sing for the child, they go to wash their hands at the sink.
  2. Purposefully weave in some of those memorized skills, such as learning colors, shapes letters or numbers.  Example:  Put colors/letters/names or shapes on the floor near the door.  Ask a child to stand on a particular color, shape, letter or name.  (Have extras available to show a child if they do not yet recognize the item. This way they can MATCH the item rather than finding it.)  
  3. Use transition times for creative movement!  Use Popsicle sticks with an action picture on them.  Have each child pull a Popsicle stick out and then move to the next area in the action described.  Here are a few good ones:  "Crawl like a bug", "Fly like a bird", "Walk like an elephant", "Hop like a bunny".
  4. Use songs!  Here's a quick song to sing when you see a child helping to clean up: "I see Daniela, I see Daniela, picking up blocks, picking up blocks...thank you Daniela, thank you Daniela for picking up blocks...picking up blocks!" (sung to Where is Thumbkin)  Another trick I've found that works wonderfully for very young children who are reluctant to put toys away and transition to something else is to say and wave "Bye, Bye" to the toys :)   
  5. I always have jobs handy for children who have more difficulty transitioning: Carrying the outdoor backpack, hanging onto the clipboard or holding the key to the door can all keep a child busy enough and focused on the task enough to keep them from running off or managing to wander into a 4th grade classroom! :)  (Just keep a watchful eye on the key...wouldn't want to lose THAT!)
These are just a few of my favorite tips for transitions!  There are so many other ideas.  What are some of your favorite ideas?

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