Friday, 19 June 2015

Transitions and Attention Grabbers for Kindergarten and First Grade

What are transitions?

They are short songs, rhymes, games, that help make the transition from an activity or a routine to another effortlessly or smoothly.

Why are they useful?
  • Because they help kids calm down and relax before the next activity;
  • Because they stimulate the children’s curiosity and get their attention, while also engaging them;
  • Because they serve as short brain breaks;
  • Because by using fun transitions you avoid giving boring instructions, such as „Let’s clean up and then sit down!”.
Transitions aren’t considered activities, they are supposed to be very short, dynamic and engaging.

Transition times:
  • before and after an activity/routine;
  • morning arrival;
  • while lining up;
  • while cleaning up to start a new activity;
  • to gather the children to sit down;
  • to get the kids’ attention;
  • while waiting for something to start (for example waiting to go to the toilet);
  • at the end of the day, when the kids leave the daycare.

You can make the transition through:
  • Songs;
  • Rhymes;
  • Poems;
  • Improvised lyrics;
  • Movement games;
  • Walking/jumping/hopping/moving your body;
  • Short attention grabbers;

Here are a couple of transitions I’ve used with my kids over the years.


Use a magic wand to transform the kids into quiet fish – they can just swim and make quiet fish noises;

Use musical instruments that are quiet, such as a rain stick, or a harmonica;


Sa-ram, sam-sa, sa-ram, sam-sa, (clapping our hands)

Curri, curri, curri, curri (loud, then quiet, then whisper, while clicking your fingers)


“My hands upon my head I’ll place

Upon my shoulders, on my face,

At my waist and by my side

Now no more wiggles are left in me

So I will sit as still as I can be”

(Unknown author)


“It’s raining (tapping the table with your fingers),

Thunders (hitting the table with your fists),

The sun is up (make a circle with your arms above your head),

It’s cloudy (pretend you’re grabbing the clouds)”

Fingers intertwined, open-close palms, go round and round;

ONE LITTLE FINGER Song (Super Simple Songs)


TOUCH YOUR nose/neck/head…, but every now and then show a body part and name another, to see if they are paying attention;

Play Follow the Flashlight – turn the lights off and point a flashlight to the ground. The kids have to run and step on the spot of light;

Strum an instrument;

Play an instrument;

Decorate a bag and place the props you are going to use for the next activity inside. Use it on a regular basis. The kids will be curious to see what’s inside, once they get the point of the bag;

Sing new or familiar songs to get the children’s attention;

Use hand puppets to get the kids to listen - Kids will usually do what the puppets ask them. Use funny voices and accents. They’ll have a blast!


MAKE A CIRCLE – Super Simple Songs


You could wave a "magic" wand and turn them all into animals: „Pretend you are lions/cows/birds/...”.


My Hands (poem)

On my head my hands I place

(place hands on head)

On my shoulders, (place hands on shoulder)

On my face, place hands on face)

On my hips, (place hands on hips)

And at my side, (drop hands to side)

Then behind me they will hide,

(hide hands behind back)

I will hold them up so high,

(raise hands high above head)

Quickly make my fingers fly,

(wiggle fingers)

Hold them out in front of me,

(hands in front of body, arms extended)

Swiftly clap them. One, two, three!

(clap, clap, clap)

(Unknown Author)

A Tickling Game

See the little mousie, creeping up the stair (creep your fingers up the kid’s body)

Looking for a warm nest, there, oh there! (tickle on the back, or behind the ear)

(Unknown author)

WALKING, WALKING – Super Simple Songs

THE PINOCCHIO – Super Simple Songs


Make a Line Song

„Everybody make a line, make a line, make a line

Everybody make a line, for now it’s breakfast /lunch / fruit salad /snack time.”

Line Up Poem

1,2, listen and do

3,4, face the door

5,6, finger on lips

7, 8, stand up straight

9,10, let’s begin.

Say No More Poem

Hands down,

Turn around,

Face the door,

And say no more.

When it's time to get in line poem

When it's time to get in line I stand so straight and tall.

My arms are right down by my side; I never move them at all.

My head is facing forward,

My eyes look straight ahead.

My lips are closed,

My ears are open, listening to what's said!


Turn off the lights once or twice to give your children notice before playtime will come to an end;

Play 'I Spy' to clean up toys on the floor. Describe the objects that are on the floor, without using their name. For example, ”I spy something big and red. Who can find that object?”;

Magic Lotion - Make clean-up time fun and magical for kids. Prepare a „magic lotion” that they will rub on their hands. Once they have done that, they’ll dance around the room while picking up the toys that are left on the floor. You can use a small plastic bottle with baby lotion and a pinch of glitter. Make sure your kids never put it in their mouths;

CLEAN UP - Super simple Songs
Clean up, clean up.
Everybody, let's clean up.
Clean up, clean up.
Put your things away.
(Repeat 4x)

Clean up! Clean up! Clean up! Put your things away.

Pick up your toys.
Pick up your books.
Pick up your shoes.
Put your things away.

Clean up, clean up.
Everybody, let's clean up.
Clean up, clean up.
Put your things away.

Clean up, clean up.
Everybody, let's clean up.
Clean up, clean up.
Put your things away.

Clean Up Song 2
Clean up, clean up
Everybody get some toys
Clean up, clean up
All the boys and girls.


If your children are afraid of monsters when you turn off the lights, make a ”Anti-Monster Spray” with water, food colouring and some lemon juice. Spray it in the nap room before your child goes to bed. Make the event a funny one – look everywhere: check under the bed, in the closet, even in the slippers;

Marshmallow Toes Poem
Walking through the hallways,
Everyone quietly goes
Being respectful all the way
Walking on our marshmallow toes.
(Unknown Author)

I’m pretty sure I forgot some of the transitions I’ve used, because I keep changing them whenever they don’t work anymore or when the children get bored with them. Sometimes I just improvise new lyrics to old tunes, but I forget them in a couple of days.

If you want to receive a free printable with these transitions, click here. :)

What transitions have you used with your kids?

No comments:

Post a Comment