I have to say, I have become a master at transitions. Of course, when you only have kids for 30-45 minutes once a week, a lot of time will be wasted if there is even a question of what is expected. We practice these transitions until they can practically do them with their eyes closed. I may change it up every now and again just for fun but the expectation is always there.
I will also say that NONE of these ideas are original. Even the closest ones are rooted in someone’s genius. I’m just sharing what works for me in my experience.
Transition #1: Moving from Marching/dancing around the room to assigned seats
Upon entering the classroom, the students start marching. A former colleague of mine name Todd Ukena created a program called Integrated Music and PE (For more information, visit toddukena.com) which focuses on helping build music competencies in beat, rhythm, and ear training while simultaneously using loco motor skills a la PE. I use his program exclusively for coming to the classroom with grades PK-1. At grade 2, we mix it up a bit and deviate from the original program but that is post all in and of itself.
To move from this activity to the risers where we sing warm-ups and do the bulk of our lessons (think of them as your desks), We sing a silly scale that goes like this (not an original idea).
Big Macs are my favorite
(on do, ti ti ti ti ta ta)
Eat ’em everyday
(on re, ti ti ti ti ta-)
Pickles, cheese, and onions
(on mi, ti ti ti ti ta ta)
Who cares what we pay
(on fa, ti ti ti ti ta-)
Special sauce and lettuce
(on sol, ti ti ti ti ta ta)
Cooked no other way
(on la, ti ti ti ti ta)
Take me to McDonald’s
(on ti, ti ti ti ti ta ta)
Leave me there to stay
(on high do, ti ti ti ti ta)
You deserve a break today
(high do, ti, la, sol, fa, mi, re, do, on quarter notes)
As students are singing this song, the move from wherever they ended up after Marching/jumping/dancing around the classroom and find their assigned seats on the risers. They sit (unless otherwise directed by teacher) as the scale descends. I know this is obviously for a music classroom but I hope to show even general ed teachers the value of musical transitions.
Transition #2: Moving from assigned seats to Middle of the Room for activity or movement
I created this backwards version of the Big Macs song after having to say the same expectations over and over when getting kids to transition from their assigned spots on the risers to the middle of the floor for games, movement, working in groups, and pretty much every activity that can’t be completed comfortably on the risers.
As soon as I start the this song (I actually sing it but I only have to get it started and then the kids take over), the kids stand up from their spots and move to a spot of their choosing on the floor.
The rhythm is the same as Big Macs but the melody is backwards. Start at high do and descend.
Three rules of movement
For student safety
Always keep your body parts
to your own person
Always stay in one spot
No roaming ’round the room
Always stay on your feet
So we can all stay safe
Now we’re ready to get crazy……NOT!
(do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, high do……..do!)
The kids think the “NOT” is hysterical. It really helps for them to sing the rules themselves because I am a SPAZ and am very safety conscious. When you have up to 44 6-year olds in a classroom doing something called the “Silliest Dance Contest,” you have to be safety conscious. LOl!
Transition #3: Easy Peasy way to get ANY elementary grade to sit down and stand up without talking
If you’re like me, you sometimes wonder if children’s mouths are directly connected in some way to their lower halves.
These two little ditties really help cut back. The kids know if we don’t do it right, we do it again. I get great results from even my big kids.
To sit down:
Criss Cross Applesauce
S0l mi sol-sol mi
Hands in lap
So mi do
To stand up (same melody as before):
Stand up, straight and tall
Ready to _______ (fill in the blank: sing, dance, move, line-up, whatev)
Transition #4: No fuss line-up!
Funny story, in my recent interview at the new ISD, a question was about classroom management and so I listed some of the activities above and when I got to this one, they weren’t really understanding how I have the children sing to line-up…….so I sang it to them….LOL! When they called my current school for my references, they thought it was hysterical that I sang in my interview and even more so that I was the ONLY music teacher who sang to them. My recent principals laughed it up as well but that’s me, I guess. Hey, it got me the job!
ANYWAY, here is my transitional song to share with you this evening and it is our line-up song. I teach this to every grade level and they know I mean business. When it’s over, if I hear a single sound, they WILL sing it again until everyone is line. I will let you know, there is some peer pressure motivation going on with this one.
This is song is echoed (because sometimes I change the words to be funny or whatever) to the tune of a popular military cadence.
_____ Grade will get in line
Talking no would be a crime
Turn around and face the door
Or we’ll do this more and more
This part is added on for PK-2(ish) unless the older grades need it.
Hands on hips!
Bubbles on lips!
Well, I hope these musical transitions give you an idea about how you could use musical transitions in your own situation. I have found them to be a life-saver. When there is a sub, the kids are so good about still doing them on their own.
There have even been occasions were I have my head popped out the door talking to someone or replying to an urgent email or talking to a new student, they just go on without me. I think I read it somewhere that a teacher is only is only as good as they’re kids are when they’re gone. I hope that applies to me and each of you.
If you are looking for some musical transitions that might benefit a general ed classroom, I would recommend the School Rules Book by Hal Leonard Publishing. It comes with the book with music and lyrics plus a CD with all 40 (yes 40 songs to choose from).
I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday weekend!
Email me at miscellaneouscara (at) gmail (dot) com if you have an questions about any of these. Of course, you’re always welcome to comment but I wanted to throw that out there as well.
Thanks for reading!