1. Send a Signal! Gently remind children when it's almost time to complete their activities. Five minutes later, try a series of tambourine shakes or blink the lights for them to know it's clean-up time.
  2. Move Along With Song. Have fun with theme-related transitions-waddle like ducks or gallop like horses! Use favorite categories ("Do you like mustard or relish on hot dogs?") to facilitate moving in small, manageable groups. Made-up songs (personalized with the children's names) send them rapidly on their way.
  3. Plan Ahead. Put out art supplies so children can start projects right away. Have clean-up materials ready, including damp sponges to wipe off the snack table.
  4. Make transitions exciting. Pick up blocks with elephant-like trunks, then lumber over to group time. Get started right away with an interesting activity.
  5. Keep Moving. Try setting a timer to help children take turns on favorite playground items. Provide numbered tags for children to wear and then hang up to show activity availability.
  6. Create Rituals. For example, as children finish snack, have small groups wash their hands, pick up their placemats and mugs, then sing a song.
  7. Personalize Naptime. Some children need the security of their own space. Make nap mats easy to reach. Help children gather "snuggle" items brought from home. Provide physical comforts-calming back rubs, soothing music, low lights.
  8. Wake Up Gently. Not all children wake up at the same time. Provide flexibility with an available adult to help as children wake-giving warm hugs, offering sips of juice, tying shoes, and assisting with toileting needs.
  9. Prevent Pile-Ups! Avoid door pile-ups while putting on boots and snowsuits by sending ready groups out with an assistant. Take care of physical necessities, such as bathrooming, before going out so children don't need to constantly run in from the playground.
  10. Wind Down. Help children prepare for closure by helping to put things away. Then, move into group-time activities to recap the day's events.

For more transition-time ideas, try Circle Time Activities, by Susan A. Miller, EdD, Marilee Robin Burton, et al (Publications International Ltd., 2001).

This activity originally appeared in the February, 2001 issue of Early Childhood Today.