What do you do to help students transition appropriately?

Routine Name



Transition to the tables

  1. Ears are listening for instructions
  2. Mouth is silent (-or- Students are saying a transition phrase...for kindergarten, ABCs)
  3. Walk
  4. Select your seat wisely
  5. Hands in lap
  6. Feet remain on the floor
  7. Chair privileges will be rescinded if used improperly
(Keisa Williams)
Create a Y-chart w/ your students: Looks Like, Sounds Like, Feels Like.
First Week Back After Winter Break By Ellen Shulman, Kandace Logan

Take a photo of how transitions look and post them on the wall.

Transition to the Hallway

I've seen many variations of this chant to help students to remember to line up quietly to move through the hallways:

I'm looking straight ahead of me.
I'm standing straight and tall.
My feet are quiet* as can be,
I'm ready for the hall.
[*Instead of saying "My feet are" -I would probably substitute- "My voice is quiet as can be"]
That and a few other good ones can be found at Dr. Jean's Classroom Management page
(Nancy Alibrandi, Twitter: nalibrandi)

Transition to end class

To transition from check-out to class leaving, I rely upon the following. Holding my hand up I begin counting backwards aloud while saying:

5 - All voices are off (closing one finger)
4 - All eyes on me (closing another finger
3 - All bottoms on seats (closing another finger)
2 - All books and magazines are closed (etc...)
1 - Everyone is ready to listen to my instructions (etc...)
(ew reakes)

Define the term

I learned last year that I actually need to define the word "transition" for the kids and give examples such as: enter library, stop storytime/begin checkout time/move to tables/begin SSR time, etc. I tell the kids "now we are going to transition to a new activity" and then we go over what will happen as we transition. Just knowing what the term is and when transitions are happening helps with classroom management. I think I learned last year to ASSUME NOTHING! I can't assume that the kids know what to do/how to behave...we have to teach everything now. (Catherine Trinkle)

Transition to End Craft and Listen for Directions

This one was taught to me by a K teacher in my school. I use it when there is a lot of conversation and movement going on, such as when we are doing a craft during library time:

Tootsie Roll (roll fists around each other)
Lollipop (pretend to lick lollipop)
We were talking
Now we stop (bring side of hand down on palm of opposing hand)

I find that by the time I've finished saying Tootsie Roll I've got their attention!

(Amy Blaine)

Transition Songs

When students are singing, there leaves little time for idle chatter or off task behavior during transitions.
Transitional Songs

Transition to end class

About 3 minutes before classtime is up I play the University of Wisconsin Fight Song (On Wisconsin) on my computer. The students know it's time to line up and if they haven't checked out yet to do so now. (When I picked this song I didn't realize that it's the same tune our high school uses for their fight song!) (Sr. M. Francesca)

Table Transition - __Had A Library E-I-E-I-O.

We have a farm theme for kindergarten at the start of the school year, so each table has a different farm animal card contact papered on each table. I have a stack with at least six of each of those cards and I distribute them at random to the students. This is how they find their tables. When it is time to check out books or get puzzles or art materials, I call one table at a time by singing the song, "Mrs. Zschunke had a Library" to the tune of Old MacDonald Had a Farm. When I call the animal of the table, those students can go to check out or transition to the next activity. Likewise, at the end of class, the same procedure is used to call one table at a time to line up. See blog post for further details: http://ontheshelf4kids.blogspot.com/2011/09/book-book-book.html. Books that are used to correspond are "Book, Book, Book" by Deborah Bruss and "Comin' Down to Storytime" by Rob Reid

Submitted by Ellen Zschunke (@ontheshelf4kids

1 x 1

I learned this trick from an ENVoY trainer. (ENVoY is a behavior management method that uses non-verbals to influence behavior). Anyway, the trainer said that when it is time to go check out books, I should non-verbally dismiss students from the "classroom area" one by one. I might even say, "Think about what section of the library you are going to visit today," or "Think about what kind of book you want to get today," etc before I start.

This way, the students start out silent and are task oriented as opposed to being chatty. I only non-verbally point/make eye contact with the student. And then, with my pointing hand and eyes following the student, we all watch each one as they get up and walk to the shelf. With younger kids, it can be sort of a game where I say, "Let's watch and see where they go!" This dismissal procedure takes about a minute to two minutes, but by the time they get to the shelves, their volume has only reached a quiet level. And my library is peaceful at last! :)