Transitioning students from one activity to another seems to be one of the most difficult tasks for some teachers to accomplish, which is understandable when they have 12-15 students in their group.
Since I am not familiar with everyone’s individual classroom schedule. I am going to give you a few examples of transitions from circle time, to center time and then to large group and from lunchtime to nap-time.
When transiting students from circle time to center time or free play; instead of allowing the students to be dismissed all at once, ask them to tell you which center they want to go to. This not only gives them an understanding that centers exist in the classroom, but it also familiarizes them with the centers.
In addition, it allows you to keep track of how many students are in each center. You can also use this technique to see which centers your students are most interested in, making adjustments so that the other centers are just as interesting.
When the students transition from centers to the tables for a large group activity and or projects, have them meet you in a central area, use that area each day. I would suggest that you make your circle time area that central area; it is usually the most open area in the classroom.
While students are in their centers, and when it is five minutes before clean up time, give them a five minute warning, letting them know that they have five more minutes to play before it is time to clean up. This gives them a sense of not only time, but a window to know that clean up time is approaching, so that they can finish what they are doing. To keep students calm during transitions from center time, allow them to have a saving table, so that they can put any items that they have built and want to finish later.
Instruct your students to meet you in circle time once they have finish cleaning up their center. If you will be going outside after your table activity, have the students clean-up, go potty and then sit on the floor/carpet in the circle time area. When five or six of your students are in the circle time area; put an audio story on and pick a student to hold the book; put the student with the book in a chair while the others students sit around him/her on the floor. I use the books that have a beep when it’s time to turn the page, since these are easier for the students to follow. By doing this, it will calm the students down and encourage the students that are still cleaning to speed up.
While the students are calm and settled down; take this time to prepare your table for the next project and or activity, or excuse the students two at a time so that they can get their jackets for outside play.
Once the audio and book is completed, excuse each student to the table or lined them up for outside play by asking them to tell you one thing that they liked about the story.
To transition students from lunch time to nap-time, put out books at a table, I find that sitting students at the table with a variety of books to choose from keeps them quieter than putting them in the library; it really depends on your students. Whatever you decided to do, have it prepared ahead of time and let your students know what you want them to do while they are still sitting at the table.
Take this time to put down mats/cots, pillows and blankets, call each student to their bed as you put the beds down, this might be difficult as first, but if you are consistent they will go with no hassle. For the students that have a hard time settling down, allow them to help you dump the serving bowls and sweep the floors. This will give you the opportunity to have a little one on one time with them before it is time for them to lie down.
Allow students to have a book while they relaxed on their mats/cots since it takes some students longer than others to settle down. This will give you the opportunity to finish the cleaning and deal with unscheduled mishaps. Remember to give them a five minute warning before you start picking up the books.
Once everyone is settled and quiet, put on your sleepy time music very low, then sit with your students and read them a story until some of them drift off to sleep.
If you instruct your students on the activity or instructions that come next, and they know what is expected of them, you will have smoother transitions.
Try to have the least amount of transitions as possible; too many changes too quickly doesn’t allow students to get engaged in play, and that’s how they learn.
But most importantly! Be consistent.