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Turning Transitions into a Favorite Part of the Day

It all started because I didn’t enjoy the transitions that are a part of classroom life. For whatever reason, clapping, chimes, and even silent signals just didn’t feel right. So instead, I play music. When the students hear a song they end whatever they are doing and head to the meeting area. I really don’t have to say a thing.

To make this work, I search for songs I think the students will love and then test them out. I play different songs during the transitions to see which ones students sing aloud. Then, the more popular songs, I play again and again so the students learn the words. By far, the kids are enthralled with the song videos from Turnaround Arts and Playing for Change. Once you watch one, you will see why. These music videos are filled with kids from all over the world playing music, dancing, and singing.

My students beg me to play Love Train with Jason Mraz, Chad Smith, and Yo-Yo Ma again and again. Once a student noticed the painting of Martin Luther King Jr. in the video, the students couldn’t stop talking about it. They had so many ideas about why the authors decided to include it.

Once we have heard a song several times, I print the lyrics and they glue them into their song and poetry notebook. Now, we begin our days by singing a song from this notebook. Then, during reading workshop, kids can choose to read and sing these songs as they point to the words. So yes, during reading workshop you will hear kids quietly singing Playing for Change’s rendition of Don’t Worry, Be Happy, and Celebration.

Recently, the kids have started to have hands-down conversations about the lyrics of these favorite songs. Since they are so familiar with the words, they have lots of ideas to share about the possible meanings of these texts. Here are some sticky notes from a conversation about Count on Me by Bruno Mars – another classroom favorite.

Songs have changed the way transitions feel in the classroom, and now I look forward to them. I hope you are finding ways to transform the tricky parts of your days into something wonderful.

Happy Teaching,


4 thoughts on “Turning Transitions into a Favorite Part of the Day”

  1. Hi Tammy,
    Just love this idea. When I taught K a students gave me a disco ball and we used it for disco ball cleanup with music. These videos carry so many important images and messages and I love how you incorporate them into poetry notebooks.

    How do you cue the videos so you aren’t waiting for them to load?

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