Transition periods are brief but very important since they often represent the moments when children lose their focus, causing the group to scatter here and there. Animating these periods can help avoid many problems. A period can be considered to be a transition only if it does not exceed 15 minutes. Any period of time longer than 15 minutes should be considered an activity. Transitions are periods of time where children must wait, with or without their caregiver if she is busy preparing the next activity.
Although we may not realize it, we spend quite a bit of time in transitions throughout the course of a day. To help you plan these periods more effectively and make them more enjoyable, here are a few suggestions.
Small piece of advice: Regularly change your material or your activities to maintain children's interest level and ensure they remain interested. Use seasons or holidays for inspiration to invent your own small games or new material. Use them only during transition periods.
A few reasons children have to wait:
- Between each activity and routine
- When everyone is to use the bathroom or get dressed
Here are a few tricks which will help avoid moments of despair and make sure you are ready to keep little ones occupied at all times.
- Near areas where children are most likely to be during transition periods, display lists of activities. The cloakroom, near the bathroom, near the table... Include songs, game suggestions, and ideas of material which may be used.
- Always have a small address book with you. List all the simple games you know. Use the first letter of the name of each game and write it in the section with the corresponding letter. Include a brief description to refresh your memory.
Animation games for transitions
- Use songs and rhymes which involve movement and gestures. Many songs encourage children to move specific parts of their body.
Examples: Head, shoulders, knees and toes, The Hokie Pokie, The wheels on the bus, etc.
These songs are already available in the educatall club.
- Invite children to mime various actions or objects with their body or their hands. You may ask them to draw something with their fingers in the air, on the floor, or on a friend's back.
- The funniest way to make waiting periods go by fast is to have a silly face contest!
- Tell the beginning of an invented story. Have children take turns continuing it.
- Sit in a circle, in silence, with your most serious faces. The first one to laugh gets hugs, kisses, and a whole lot of tickles!
- Have a conversation with the group asking them questions about this and that. Children mustn't answer "yes" or "no".
- Everyone loves to play "Simon says". Along the same lines, ask children to show you different body parts. Say, "Show me your eyes, show me your forehead, show me your hands..."
- Imitate animal sounds.
- Play the mirror game. Children must reproduce their caregiver's movements. Give children a chance to lead the game.
- Have children repeat a rhythm you create with their hands, feet, or mouth.
- Play a guessing game..."Which object is red and round in the daycare?" or "Which animal likes to eat bananas?"
Material which may be used for transitions only
Material used for transitions should never be available during other periods. Once a transition period ends, put it away immediately. Otherwise, children will no longer be as attracted by the material. They may be distracted and not pay attention.
- Print several Hunt and Seek games found in the educatall club. Laminate them, display them on the wall, floor, or table.
- Make your own picture books. Here are a few suggestions of how to make them: tape illustrations to the floor or wall or insert them in "Ziploc" bags and join them together to look like a book. You may also glue illustrations to the table for waiting periods during meals. Use seasons, holidays, and children's interests for inspiration when choosing your illustrations. Try to find illustrations which are as close to real life as possible, children will identify with them more easily.
- Place a strip of Velcro on the wall. Add a variety of objects to the strip. Children will love to manipulate them while they wait. Mismatched puzzle pieces, illustrations from broken storybooks, felt figurines...
- Hang a large sheet of paper on the wall. Attach several crayons with string or provide small bins containing objects referring to a specific season or holiday: stickers, stamps, crayons...
- Fill empty medicine bottles with colourful objects or objects which produce various sounds: pebbles, macaroni, rice, tiny bells, etc.
- Songs are great boredom busters however, in the heat of the moment our repertoire of songs is sometimes limited. Why not create your own song keychain? Choose a few pictures representing each song. Cut them out and glue them on cardboard circles. Punch a hole in each circle and join them together with a small ring. Write key words on the back of each circle to help you remember the song. A small glance at your keychain and you'll be singing away!
- Create your own tickle box. Place several items you can use to tickle little ones to keep them occupied inside. Examples: feather, tissue, scarf, cotton ball...
You have tried all these suggestions and can't think of anything new? Let children guide you. Observe them when they are playing and listen to what they have to say. You will learn a lot about their interests. Indirectly, they will tell you what kind of activities they would enjoy!