One of my goals this year (and I feel like I say this every year) is to use every minute of the day better. I feel like we waste time between activities or waiting for everyone to do what they are supposed to be doing. We only have so many hours each day and I know those wasted minutes add up.
So I've been thinking about things I used to do during transitions to still make it an effective use of instructional time-to make them think as we are moving to the next activity.
* One of my favorites is to give the kids examples of things; they have to not only figure out what the category is, but come up with something else that fits in with that list of things. For example I would say: button, plate, clock and I go around the group asking for more objects that fit with that group. They don't name the category, but if they say "sun"-they can go line up. Eventually, everyone usually figures it out. If I have to tell the last few what the category is, I still expect them to give me an example that fits. My favorite part of this activity, is sometimes they come up with something I didn't even think of!
* Another is to have them copy your pattern. You can clap your hands in a pattern and they have to mimic the same pattern but using different gestures-this is a good one when everyone is returning to the carpet after cleaning up, etc. So if I clap fast fast slow-AAB, they would snap or move their shoulders or shake their heads in a way that also shows and AAB pattern and we would continue until everyone was sitting down. This way the ones who are already on the carpet have their hands (and minds) occupied instead of just sitting and waiting.
*Using vocabulary. For example-we may be talking about animal life cycles in science. I will yell out an animal: kangaroo and whoever says "joey" first can line up. We would continue with other baby animal names until everyone was in line.
* When kids enter in the morning I have a large dry erase board and printed their names on magnetic paper. I have a question of they day for them--who was your favorite character in the Wizard of Oz, what is your favorite lunch food, did you read a book last night? And they move their names to their choice. When we begin our math segment of the day we have data to do a very quick little graph or t-chart. They also learn quickly that they have to be able to back their choice with a reason why they chose that one as well, because I will ask.