Transition Activities for Toddlers

Making the leap from one activity to another can be a difficult task for a toddler, particularly if you want him to leap from an exciting activity to something mundane; clean up time just isn't as much fun as crafts, games or imaginative play. Fortunately, transition time doesn't have to be fraught with difficulties. Transition time activities help your toddler to make the change easily from one activity to another 3.

Puppet Play

Pull out a pair of puppets when transition time comes around. Don't tell your toddler what's next on the list; let your friendly puppet do the talking. Toddlers are often enthralled by puppets, so give your puppet a name and a voice, and pull him out about a minute before it's time for the current activity to come to an end. Have your puppet keep the message short, such as, "Larry the lizard's clean up time." Now, this is where the other puppet comes in. Have your child name and make a voice for her puppet, and try to keep it close by for an easy transition time activity. Help her remember a few lines for the puppet to say, such as, "Sally says okay...but what comes next today?" Incorporating easy rhymes makes the dialogue even more fun and encourages language development, as well.

Transition Songs and Rhymes

Turn transition time into song time to make each transition during the day as smooth and simple as possible. Use songs or rhymes that describe the transition that is taking place, but try to keep the lyrics as simple as possible. Incorporating songs regularly will make them become part of a routine, and young children thrive on consistency and routine. When it's time to transition from an indoor activity to outside playtime, or it's time to clean up for snack, try these simple verses.

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho It's off to the backyard we go. We'll have some fun And we can run Heigh Ho Heigh Ho Heigh Ho


(To the tune of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush)

This is the way we clean up our toys Clean up our toys, clean up our toys. This is the way we clean up our toys So we can go have snack time.


It's important to give your toddler a warning when it's time to switch from one activity to the next. This provides them with a few moments to prepare mentally for the upcoming change. A simple countdown can help your child with her preparations and make transition time an exciting event. Start by letting your youngster know a transition is coming two minutes ahead of time. Let her know when there is just one minute left, and then turn the last 10 seconds into an enthusiastic countdown. Treat it like the last 10 seconds of a New Year's countdown -- minus the confetti and party hats -- and she'll be too excited by your own excitement to resist the transition.

Movement Signals

A little bit of fancy footwork -- or a few simple stomps and claps -- will help to separate your child from the current activity and get her prepared for the next. Create a simple combination of movements and then tell your toddler what's happening next. An example would go something like this: stomp, stomp, clap, "lunchtime," stomp, stomp, clap, "lunchtime." Encourage your child to copy your movements and your words to move her focus from her current occupation to the transition activity. Before long, your child will recognize that it's time to pay attention and get ready to make a transition when you begin the movement sequence.