Guest blogger Deb Sugerman shares five great ideas to make transitions easier at school

Transition – that dreaded time when students move from place to place. Students don’t like it because it takes time and is boring. Teachers don’t like it because it takes time and is difficult to manage. Students have a hard time being quiet, keeping their hands to themselves, and travelling so that they don’t bother other students. Sound familiar?

Help make transitions more fun for students and teachers alike by keeping students engaged getting in line, standing in line or walking down the hall. Try any of these five ideas.

To get students in line play:
I Spy. Explain that when you say, “I spy,” every child needs to stop what he/she is doing, listen, and respond with, “What do you spy?” Say something like, “I spy children dancing in one place,” or “I spy a rock star silently playing a guitar.” The students act out that idea until you again say, “I spy.” Then all the students stop what they are doing and respond with, “What do you spy?” The game continues with you suggesting other ideas such as, “I spy children waving their arms.” After playing awhile, say “I spy students lining-up quietly.”

Engaging students who are in line waiting for something (such as their turn in the bathroom or a teacher to pick them up after recess):
Rain. The leader starts by rubbing his/her hands together. The person next to him/her does the same and so on, until everyone is doing the action. When all are rubbing their hands, the leader starts a new sound, soft finger snapping, then soft hand clapping, next soft thigh slapping, soft foot stomping. To END the storm, reverse the actions. At the end, the group one by one stops rubbing hands.

Writing in the Air. Have each child turn sideways with their right hand on their right shoulder. (If left-handed-do it on the left) Ask them to write words or numbers in the air using their right elbow. You could say, “Write (or print) your name,” “Write the name of your favorite food,” “Write your address,” etc. Then have them turn and put their left elbow on their left shoulder and continue the activity.

Engaging students while they are walking:
Simon Says. The line leader does an action and the rest of the students in line follow. It could be a bubble in the mouth, hands by the sides, finger to their lips, waving, etc. The teacher can lead (walk backwards so students can see the actions) or the line leader for the day can be the leader.

If You’re Happy and You Know it…. Lead students in activities while they are walking by asking them to try different actions. Begin with if you’re happy and you know it, then an action, such as wave your hand, step up high, whisper “school name”, and do all three.

How do you make transitions easier for your students?

Deb Sugerman is a senior national trainer in Boston for the Playworks Training team. She has more than 20 years’ experience teaching educators, and believes youth workers who value play will positively impact children and organization.



More Resources

kids playing duck duck goose
kids playing duck duck goose

April 29, 2021

Leveraging Play to Address Learning Loss ›

In order to help kids recover from learning loss, we must ensure their emotional needs are met. We need to prioritize every child’s wellbeing, and that starts with acknowledging that many kids are healing from traumas caused by the pandemic, including social, emotional, and physical impacts of COVID-19.  “When children experience stress and trauma, it…

woman smiling at laptop
woman smiling at laptop

January 5, 2021

Top 6 Games to Play Virtually ›

Many educators have risen to the challenge of transitioning their lessons to accommodate virtual education, and Playworks has been helping educators ensure play remains in every child’s day, even online. Kids prioritize play, and with our support educators are leveraging play when teaching virtually in order to keep kids engaged, active, and to build community.…

kids and adult doing yoga
kids and adult doing yoga

October 6, 2020

Using Play to Foster Social Connections and Physical Activity ›

Play isn’t just fun and games – it’s a vital aspect of our health and well-being. When we play, we engage our bodies, minds, and senses, creating opportunities for increased physical activity, learning, and connection with others. Play can even help relieve stress and support the development of important social-emotional skills, including communication and cooperation.…