Transitions. Done poorly, they can break down classroom order faster than you can say “Sit down, please.” Done well, they become an important educational tool. Here are 20 transition games to improve early literacy learning.
1. If your name rhymes with Bichael, Bessica, or Bestiny, you may go back to your seat. (Use whatever consonant you’re learning that week).
2. If you’re wearing a color that rhymes with head (shoe/blue, bean/green, hello/yellow, think/pink, stack/black, might/white, say/gray, etc. – no rhymes for orange or purple though), you may get your supplies.
3. I’m thinking of a table number that rhymes with door (sun/one, blue/two, see/three, door/four, jive/five, fix/six), you may get lined up.
(PS – I know you can rhyme. I’m not trying to insult you. I’m just providing an example because sometimes it’s hard to think of a rhyme in the moment when you’re multi-tasking 10 other things, like giving the I-see-you eye to that kid in the corner. I know I always have an easier time if I know what I’m rhyming before I start).
4. Produce-a-rhyme: Especially fun with a song like “Down by the Bay,” any student that produces a correct rhyme can lead his/her group into the next activity.
5. If your name starts/ends with the /n/ sound….
6. If your first name starts/ends with the same sound as nest….
7. If you’re wearing a color that starts like Robert...
8. [Use if you regularly dance the alphabet or make shapes with your hands] I like the way Victor is sitting, everyone from Victor’s table go back to your seat making a V shape with your hand.
9. Add to #8 – have them say the letter sound while they’re making the shape going back to their seat. These can be used with vowels too.
10. If your first name has 1/2/3 (etc.) syllables/claps….
11. If your full name has 2/3/4 (etc.) syllables/claps….
12. If your first name has the same number of claps as bear, raccoon, antelope, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, yellow-bellied marmot…. (in conjunction with a unit on mammals, for example, or use vocab from whatever unit is convenient).
13. Short vowels:
If your name has a short /a/ sound, then act like an alligator on your way back to your seat.
If your name has a short /e/ sound, then step like an elephant on your way back to your seat.
If your name has a short /i/ sound, then zip like a kid back to your seat.
If your name has a short /o/ sound, then trot like a dog on your way back to your seat.
If your name has a short /u/ sound, then scuttle like a bug back to your seat.
(For more ideas on short vowel words, see here.)
14. Long vowels:
If your name has a long /ay/ sound, then make like a snake back to your seat.
If your name has a long /ee/ sound, then sneak back to your seat.
If your name has a long /i/ sound, then rise shy as mice and go back to your seat.
If your name has a long /o/ sound, then go slow as a robot back to your seat.
If your name has a long /u/ sound, then go smooth as a mute unicorn back to your seat.
(For more ideas on long vowel words, see here.)
15. Do the above with colors rather than names. Short vowel colors: red, yellow, black, tan, indigo, lavender. Long vowel colors: green, blue, white, gray, beige, indigo.
16. Produce a vowel – Who can give me a word with the same vowel sound as “dig”? Your table may begin.
Verbs and Adverbs
17. Table 1 may march (glide, tiptoe, sneak, step, dance, wiggle, etc.) into line. A good way to sneak a tiny bit of stretching and physical activity into your day.
18. Add adverbs to #13. Green table may wiggle slowly into line. If you have a class list of verbs and/or adverbs, consider pulling them out of a hat. You can get some pretty interesting combinations. If you’d like to have control of which adverb your wild ones get (silently vs. crazily), maybe scratch that idea.
Nouns and Adjectives
19. Similar to 17 and 18 above, and especially useful with animal, community helper, or habitat units. Show me how you would move like a lion (fireman, scuba diver in the ocean) back to your seat.
20. Move like a quiet cat (silly gorilla, proud chicken, etc.) back to your seat. Extra useful for practicing vocabulary for ELLs.