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Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Transition Activity Ideas

Transforming Wait Time into Great Time
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, issue 3: winter 2000
David Whitaker, Toolbox Training

Think of the last time you were sat in rush hour traffic or stood in the slow line at the grocery store. What began as irritation may have boiled over into frustration or even anger. In a nutshell, the experience can be summed up as follows: “Waiting is death.”

The reality is that no one enjoys waiting. However, children are exposed to it in countless ways on a daily basis, especially during their school days. They wait in line for seemingly everything: the bathroom, the drinking fountain, lunch, recess, art, music, P.E., busses, arrival, departure, going to class, coming from class. It’s no wonder the children make such a big deal out of being first in line.

In our SAC programs we can turn such moments into positive experiences. First and foremost, we must eliminate unnecessary transitions. Second, we speed up those that are inevitable. Third, we make transitions more fun.

There are three basic kinds of transitions in SAC programs. Think of the “ready, set, go” that precedes a race. The final destination is the finish line. However, the runner must go through the three “transitions” of “ready, set, go” before getting there.

“Ready” symbolizes those times in SAC programs when adults are rounding up groups of children to get ready for the next part of the day. This includes trying to get all the kids through the bathroom or drinking fountain line. To liven up these moments, play guessing games like I Spy or 20 Questions. Give children chances to share or present them with a question of the day.

“Set” refers to those times when children are rounded up and in one place, waiting for what’s to come. Circle times and gatherings are good examples. This would also include unexpected wait times like waiting for a late field trip bus. Use this time to sing songs or read. Play quick, simple games like Hot Potato or Mum Ball. Let children share talents or abilities.

“Go” alludes to times when children are on the move, but not at the final destination. Examples are moving from one room or activity to another. Consider imaginative activities such as sneaking down the hallway to avoid being spotted by a pretend dinosaur. Play Follow the Leader or lip sync songs on the way down the hallways. When you arrive at your destination, everyone starts singing out loud to see what different spots each person is at in the song.

Remember, waiting is death. No one wants to stand in line or sit in rush hour traffic or be stuck behind the grocery shopper with an overloaded cart. If staff in a SAC program handles transitions properly, though, then “wait time” can become “great time.”

Making Transitions Work: The PFPF Rule
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, January 2001: Volume 2, Issue 1
David Whitaker, Toolbox Training

Children experience numerous transitions every day at home, in school, and in child care programs. They are constantly being shuffled or moved from point A to point B. Before making these moves, they often stand in lines restlessly waiting for the rest of the group. There are other times that they may have to sit and wait for everyone so that announcements can be made. Transitions can make or break a child care program. If there are too many or they just are not effective, everyone suffers. To get the most out of your transitions (and to try to have as few as possible), apply the PFPF Rule in evaluating your transitions. Ask yourself these questions of any transition during your program time:

Purpose: What is the purpose of the transition? Is it serving that purpose? Is this transition absolutely necessary?

Fun: Are the kids enjoying it?

Pace: How long is the transition? Is it too fast or too slow?

Flexibility: Is the transition too rigid or too relaxed? Do children have enough say (or too much) in what’s going on?

The goal is to make sure all children enjoy being a part of your program. In the end, if the kids are happy, then the adults will be too.

Want more help with transition activities? Check out the Toolbox Training book After-School Transitions: The Ready, Set, Go! Guide to Strategies That Work or the workshop Transitions That Work.