It has been absolutely delightful watching Lucy completely embrace her Kindy experience this year. Every day it seems she comes home a little wiser and with a little bit more understanding about the world around her. Our world is fascinating and it is delightful to see her getting excited about all the new things she is experiencing each day at Kindy.

The other day she came home and was singing one of the songs her teacher uses to settle the children into circle time where they have to listen to the teacher and to one another. Through a simple song (which Lucy adores), she is being trained to settle down and sit quietly. She is learning what to do with her body while listening to someone else speak.

As she was singing this song, memories came flooding back of songs that I used to use when I taught in Early Primary. And yes, even though my resources are strongly Upper Primary, my University training majored in Early Years Education.

The songs that I used in this environment, were usually for transitional purposes (moving from one activity to the next) or like in Lucy’s case, for the purpose of behaviour management. I was so excited to hear her singing her little song that it prompted me to write some of my transition songs down. A copy of these songs can be found at the end of this article.

What are transitions?

But firstly, let’s quickly chat about what transitions are and their purpose in an Early Years classroom.

Transitions are what happen from one activity to another. For example from free play to lunch, lunchtime to story time, a maths activity to handwriting lesson, etc. Transitions happen frequently in the early years as children’s attention spans are less which means there is a frequent change in activity as well. Transitions can form a large part of the day and are a large part of the learning environment and process.

How well your day flows in the classroom depends on how well transitions are handled and allows children to feel safe and secure in the learning environment. Research states that planning for and supporting transitions is beneficial and assists with children’s engagement in a task and motivation.

It is best to manage transitions with care as they are periods when students can become quite disruptive. Transitions keep students engaged and helps students become independent and responsible workers. Carefully managed transitions involve both time management and behaviour management. Successful transitions between lessons or activities are fast moving and have clear beginnings and ends, reducing the amount of ‘down time’ between activities.

The Key to Successful Transitions

Chaotic transitions can occur because students are unsure of what to expect during the day. To avoid this and to ensure that transitions are an effective teaching strategy in Early Childhood classrooms, teachers must give consistent visual or auditory signals and verbal cues to alert students that a period of transition is coming. This should be done in advance so that students have enough notice to finish up what they are working on and prepare for the next activity.

Once students have been given the cue or signal that it is time to make a transition (such as a bell ringing, an alarm going off, clapping hands, etc), teachers should provide enough “wait time” for students to follow through so that they are ready for the next activity or set of instructions. Teachers may find it useful to circulate among students during transition times, to attend to individual student’s needs and questions and help them prepare for the next task.

When to Use Transition Songs

Moving Students

This can be the most chaotic time of the day when students need to move from one activity to another. But it doesn’t have to be. Here is a simple song I used to use after our morning circle time:

Where is Linda?
(tune: Frere Jacques)
A morning song of for circle time

Teacher: Where is Linda? Where is Linda?
Linda: Here I am. Here I am.
Teacher: How are you this morning?
Linda: Very well, I thank you.
Teacher: Hop away. Hop away. (Linda hops away to the activity)
Repeat using other children. Also vary the final action: walk, skip, or jump away, etc.

Quiet and Sitting Still

Little people probably find this the hardest of all instructions to do. Sit and listen quietly. While it will take time for some of your little ones to perfect this skill (and let’s be honest, even some adults have difficulty sitting still and listening), there are some fun ways you can remind yours students of your expectations during these times by using songs. Here is one example:

The words describe the actions

My hands upon my head I’ll place.
upon my shoulders, on my face,
At my waist and by my side,
Then behind me they will hide.
Then I’ll raise them way up high,
And let my fingers fly, fly, fly,
Then clap, clap, clap them–
One – Two – Three!
Now see how quiet they can be.

Clean Up Time

Motivating little ones to stop what they are doing and clean up can be tricky at times but with the help of transition songs, you can get them cleaning up and helping you in now time. Here is one example:

Let’s Clean Up
(Tune: Farmer in the Dell)

Let’s clean up today
Let’s clean up today
We’ve had our fund
Our day is done.
So, let’s clean up today.

For more of these songs please visit our Free Resource Library to get your copy of some more simple songs to help manage the little people in your classroom effectively.

I hope you have found this useful! Please share any other songs that you use frequently in the comments below. Let’s help one another manage our classroom more effectively.

If you found this article interesting you may be interested in exploring these resources further: