Open Discussion Forum

  • 1.  Transitions Songs for Toddlers

    Posted 11-17-2017 09:44 AM
    Does anyone have "holy grail" songs that they sing during transition times that really help the children throughout the day? (Specifically for ages 12 months to 24 months, please.)

    Heather Robinson
    Daytona Beach FL

  • 2.  RE: Transitions Songs for Toddlers

    Posted 11-17-2017 11:15 PM

    I love this question! One of the things I teach in my trainings on preventing challenging behavior is singing "songs with directions embedded" - it's so often an underused strategy. I am currently working with a Head Start program (includes early Head Start rooms) where the teachers literally sing there way throughout the day. What some of them are having a ton of success with is using the same tune or song and then just tweaking the words to the time of the day or task at hand and/or using the children's names. Actually, one class has a song that they sing at circle time where they call each child's name (or two at a time) - similar to Get Up and Dance - and I just last week developed a theory about it. They use it at circle time strictly as a fun/welcome to school type song. But then they use the same song when they are calling each other from play time to take their turn with the potty and they come right away. My theory is that it's because it has a fun association and they were already used to following the song's directions. So...maybe you could adapt some songs you are already singing. Or, simply, "Now it's time to pick a book, pick a book, pick a book, now it's time to pick a book and take it to our cots" (sung to the tune of Now its's Time to Clean Up, Clean Up...) Hard to "sing" for you here. Hope that helps and curious what others have to say! 

    Barb O'Neill
    Consultant & Trainer
    Transform Challenging Behavior
    Los Angeles CA

  • 3.  RE: Transitions Songs for Toddlers

    Posted 11-18-2017 12:33 PM
    I agree with Barb's comments about the value of transition songs throughout the day to support children in cooperating with activities.  It goes over much more smoothly than just repeatedly asking them to do something.  I have been using this song by the Jbrary children's librarians, called "Everybody Take a Seat", which is good for calling children to sit on the floor (as at circle time) or in a chair (at snack or lunch).


    Stephanie Schaefer
    Schaefer Consulting
    Silver Spring MD

  • 4.  RE: Transitions Songs for Toddlers

    Posted 11-19-2017 12:12 PM
    I love your response. I sing all day and it really helps my preschoolers transition but I like your added idea of tying fun songs they already love into activities at transitional times. Thank you.

    Helen Meissner
    Saint Paul MN

  • 5.  RE: Transitions Songs for Toddlers

    Posted 11-19-2017 06:35 AM
    I, too, find that singing a familiar tune and tweaking the words is super helpful with this age group. My go to tunes and some examples are:

    Tune: This is the way we [insert any task] so early in the morning (or tweak ending too.)

    "This is the way we put on our coats, put on our coats, put on our coats. This is the way we put on our coats, before we go outside."

    Other tasks and tweaked endings:
    • wash our hands, and say goodbye to germs
    • clean the room, when center time is done
    • sit at the table, and eat our yummy lunch
    Tune: A marching we will go...hi ho did you know? A marching we will go. 

    "We're walking down the hall. We're walking down the hall. Hi ho, did you know? We're walking down the hall." 

    Continue with verses for:
    Our eyes are facing forward.
    Our voices are turned off.
    Our hands are by our sides. 

    Tune: Mary Had A Little Lamb

    "We are coming to the rug, to the rug, to the rug. We are coming to the rug, to read a story.

    Choose a spot and please sit down, please sit down, please sit down. Choose a spot and please sit down for a story."

    Little chants for specific tasks with the words being instructional help too. 

    "Wash, wash, wash your hands.
    Wash your hands together. 
    Rub, rub, rub the soap.
    Rub it all around. 
    Then dry, dry, dry your hands. 
    Dry your hands together."

    Love it when little ones start singing along and internalizing these things! 

    Annika Mehta
    Miami FL

  • 6.  RE: Transitions Songs for Toddlers

    Posted 11-20-2017 09:37 AM
    ​A favorite transition song for me is one I created years ago when I worked with 2 year olds to be used during handwashing.  I found this serves as a great way to help children stay on task at this age and learn to anticipate the end of the task.  For me, it reduced having to give repeated directives like "you are finished" or "your turn is over"; instead, the song served as a natural way for children to feel in control of this task.

    Tune: "Row Row your Boat"
    Wash Wash Wash your Hands
    Wash those germs away
    Rub a Dub a Dub a Scrub
    Germs go down the drain.
    (Singing it slow allows for the 20 seconds children should wash their hands)   And, don't be surprised once this is done consistently, that young toddlers will reach for the faucet to turn it off all on their own when they hear "Germs go down the drain".  They may even wave to the germs going down the drain too :)

    Cindy Bruington
    Texas Tech CDRC
    Lubbock TX

  • 7.  RE: Transitions Songs for Toddlers

    Posted 11-20-2017 06:23 AM
    I really like Hugh Hanley's collection for this age group!

    Also, I personally get really tired of singing the same tune with different words (ABC/ Baa baa black sheep/twinkle star tune!) and I do think the novelty wears off on young children too -so I like to find nice new catchy rhythms.  I like to adapt a Ram-Sam-Sam or Here-We-Go-Sodio

    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Annandale on Hudson NY

  • 8.  RE: Transitions Songs for Toddlers

    Posted 11-20-2017 09:17 AM
    Movement and music are the perfect tools not only for making transitions go smoothly; also, they help make them fun and learning-filled! I've created a series of YouTube videos around active learning, including transition activities. Here's the link to the video about transitioning from place to place: I hope you find it helpful!

    Rae Pica
    Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
    Alexandria VA