Friday, May 10, 2013

Please Go. Anytime Now.

Little kids take . . . forever . . . to do anything, am I right?

This was one of the things that caught me off-guard when I began teaching younger children. A child would be gone for about an hour and when asked where they went would say, "to get a drink." A drink? For an hour? How could anyone ever take that long to do anything? Oh, but they do. When they're six, they do.

What was most maddening to me was to get them all to go somewhere. Announcing, "Everyone please line up at the door," would result in three or four kids meandering somewhat towards the door, with a few stops or side-projects along the way. Some might glance towards the door as though they really are considering going there sometime, maybe even today. The result certainly wasn't ever my students all lining up at the door.

Typical response from my students
 when asked to do something.

Yes, it takes them a long time to do things, but the upside is that you can pretty much convince them that anything is super fun if you present it in the right way. Which leads me to a couple tips on transitions that have worked for me.

1) The Magic Word

It's so simple, but so...magical. Here's a sample dialogue of how it works.

Teacher: When I say "banana", everyone line up at the door. What will you do?
Students: Line up at the door.
Teacher: Ban...dana.
(a few students stir)
Teacher: Banono.
(less students stir)
Teacher: Banana
(All students magically line up at the door at a fascinating speed)
My students love this. A variation is to let the students choose the word, which they love even more. I say, "Everyone line up as soon as I say. . ." then choose a volunteer to come up with the word. And one more variation is to let a student choose the word and say the word (while trying to trick the other students), but this depends on their ability level.

2) I Don't Know What to Call This One

This involves physical activity and attentive listening, and also demonstrates their understanding of a subject. And they think they're having fun! I use this when we are done with a group activity or meeting and they need to go back to their seats.

Teacher:  When I say go, start doing jumping jacks (or physical activity of your choice). When you hear the right answer to the problem, stop and return to your seats. The problem is 5 + 5. Think of the answer in your mind. Go!
(Students begin jumping jacks, or other physical activity of your choice.)
Teacher: 7. . . 8 . . . 3 . . . 10
(Students stop jumping jacks and return to their seats.)

Again, works like a charm.

What transition methods work for you? I'm always looking for new ideas.


  1. I like reading these! helps for future kids right? You must be such a fun teacher!

  2. I love these ideas! Thanks. They would work as a parent, too.

  3. I love it when I think I'm having fun! Great post.