classroom songs for transitions

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11 Classroom Songs For Transitions -Build Fun And Fast Transitions

Use these 11 classroom songs for transition to build fun and fast transitions in an engaging (and controlled) movement friendly, preschool, kindergarten and first grade classrooms.


The Power of Music

You know that music makes us happy, evokes emotion and influences mood.  But, as a teacher of preschool, kindergarten and first grade students you also know music can be a very powerful tool.  

In this post we will look at 11 classroom songs for transitions and how to use them to build fun and fast transitions as well as have an engaged, energized and refocused classroom full of students.

Classroom Songs for Transitions

It’s true that students can be signaled to perform a task without you saying a word.  Using music to send the message that a certain activity is ending and a set of procedures now need to be accomplished before the next activity can begin can be a very powerful tool.  

This is a little bonus for you… A Clickable download just in case you want to print and keep this playlist.  

Start Small and Build

Teach your students to do one song/routine/procedure at a time.  When they have it down then move to another. If you do to many you will be exhausted, and they will be confused.  


Pick a time during the day when you feel like you are barking orders and it is throwing the tone of the day off.  One such time may be between students being done with their independent morning work and transitioning into morning meeting.  

Let The Music Do The Work

Instead of saying 49 thousand time…“Ok, students.  Please finish your paper. Put away supplies. Place your papers in your mailbox. Return to your seats, sit and be ready for our next routine” I would turn on a song.  Ahhhhh, happiness. Everyone moving singing, joyful, engaged. LOVE IT!!


So which songs did I use and why?  Keep reading.

"Touch The Sky" by Julie Fowlis from the Disney Movie Brave

Touch The Sky by Julie Fowlis from the Disney Movie Brave, has a really long, high energy musical beginning.  It starts quiet and builds to some pretty loud and energized Celtic music.

I used this song to signal to students that their morning work time was over and even if they were not a a point of being finished they need to place their paper into their mailbox.  

The reason I love this song is as soon as they hear the first few bars they have 30 full seconds to get from their seat to their mailbox and back to their seat. Then at the 30 second mark their is about 20 seconds of singing that goes right in to a chorus of of La, la, la, la singing.  Students knew when they heard that they should be at their seats and very ready for the next part of the morning routine. So in about 1 minute have put away papers and are back to their places (singing the la, la, la) ready to move on to the next activity and I didn’t say a word.

So if you need a song to motivate students to place work in a basket, mailbox, etc you may want to consider this one.  

"Best Day Of My Life" by American Authors

This song brings bass and energy into the classroom.  I only used the first 1 minute 5 seconds. This song is great because the kids love to sing along during the part Woah-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh parts.  I used this song as an alternative to the Touch the Sky song. It is always good to mix it up a little as the songs start to lose their effectiveness.  Having more than one song to correspond to an intended response is always a good idea.

Switch Station with "Happy" by Pharrell Williams

Let’s face it, this song is another that when the students hear those first 5 bass beats they know that somethings up.  I used this song to transition between stations or centers. They hear the bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum and they know they have 30 seconds to get it together because on the “Happy” chorus we are movin’ and clappin’ to the next station.  So in 50 seconds everyone is happy, movin’ and clappin’ and at their next station. Bliss!!!

Water Break Song "Big Rock Candy Mountain" by the Okee Dokee Brothers

This song is only 1 minute and 43 seconds.  I used it to signal my students it was water break time.  Some students had water bottles and some would use the drinking fountain.  They knew they need to take 3 gulps them be done. This song brings energy but not craziness into your classroom and being well under 2 minutes it is perfect for a transition song.  I also love it because it’s Big Rock Candy Mountain minus the talk about cigars and all that. Very kid friendly.

Up From Rest/Quiet Time - "Dance Kung Fu" by the Imagination Movers

Do you have a rest or quiet time in your classroom?

Use this song to transition from quiet time into your afternoon activities. This song is about 3 minutes long and it lends itself to a call and response format that you can incorporate movement (aka dance moves) into.  Turn on the music and students transition themselves by putting away rest mats, books, pillows etc. into following you or a student “helper” in the call and response dance format of the song. Kids love this song and it will definitely bring some energy into the room.

2 Must Have Clean-Up Songs

These 2 clean up songs are essential for an easy clean up time.  Jack Hartman- Clean-up Vacuum Cleaner and the Star Wars Theme Song.

"Clean-Up Vacuum Cleaner" by Jack Hartman

Clean-Up Vacuum Cleaner by Jack Hartman can be used at the end of free choice time.  The song starts and they have the duration of the song to quickly pick up and get themselves back to their seats.  It is one of those songs that kids love and they singing even when it is not time to clean-up (much to the annoyance of the other students around them.) It’s about 3 minutes long which is perfect for students to quickly clean up.  Check it out on youtube and buy on itunes. If you’ve never heard of Jack Hartman he’s awesome. He has so many learning songs.

Clean-Up The Floor with "Star Wars Theme Song"

Star Wars Main Title by Kevin Kinder and John Williams is the song I put on to signal students it is time to find paper on the floor.  I tell them they are star fighters crawling through the galaxy looking for space debris that they will pick up and deposit into the intergalactic space junk receptacle.  When they hear the end of this song they are back to their bases ready for their next mission.

I used the iTunes Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band (12” disco Mix) it is a little over 3 minutes.

"Pink Panther" is the Perfect Prepare for Dismissal Song

At the end of the day I hate managing students with my voice.  I’d rather do it with a song. Right after the Star Wars clean up song on comes the Pink Panther Theme song.  

It is about 3 minutes long. When the students hear this they know that I, their teacher, have turned into a sneaky pink panther sneaking around the room trying to find students who are quiet and still and ready to stack their chair, get the mail from their mailbox and their backpacks packed up. So the music goes on and I start to be act “sneaky” and when I see a student who is ready I tap them on the head or shoulder.  They then get themselves ready to go home. I can control how many kids are stacking chairs, at the mailboxes and getting into their lockers.

It's not a mad rush but instead a fun game. They stay quiet and “sneaky” throughout the song.

I try to tap students at different times who should not be at the mailbox together. ( You get my drift) or I try to tap students at the beginning of the song when I think they might need a little more time getting ready.


"Peanuts-Charlie Brown" Theme Song Short End of Day Transition Song

After the Pink Panther song I go right into the Charlie Brown Theme song which is only about a minute long.  This tells students that they only have 1 minute to finish up and get themselves over to the carpet area for the end of day meeting.  Right after the Charlie Brown Theme it goes into a movement song like Goldfish or Freeze Dance (see below) which they can participate with while seated on the carpeted area.

Just Plain Fun "Freeze Dance" by Fresh Beat Band and "Goldfish" by the Laurie Berkner

These songs are really great for the end of the day.  Use one or both right before your end of day dismissal routine.  Sometimes the end of the day in preschool and kindergarten is really hard for kids.  They are tired and moving helps them with the last 10 minutes. Because I always ended they day with a story I would have students fall asleep. (or maybe they fell asleep because of my storytelling skills…. hummmm, a point to ponder) To combat having to wake them to go home I built in an active time with one or both of these song just before the book.  


No Need To Make Up Actions

If you listen to the songs they naturally conjure up actions to do with your class.  After you get the moves down you can even have a student “helper” lead the class while you select a book or take care of any students who may need your help.  

Practice Makes All The Difference

Now there’s a lot that goes into using each of these songs to initiate a student lead procedure.  It takes a lot of practice and time to get it right. If you want me to go through how to do this give me a comment below and we can make it happen.  


I know this is totally unrelated to this post but I did promise you some free clip-art frames for all your classroom creations.  So here they are. Click each of these circle frames below to download. Enjoy. If you haven’t already sign up to get freebies sent right to your in-box.  I would love to have you be part of this ever growing amazing group of educators. Join by Clicking Here. To begin getting tons of freebies starting with “The Blueberry Pancake Problem” pdf book and freebies.  

Until Next Time

You are amazing.  You really are. Think of all you are and what you are becoming.  Truly amazing. So, hold your head up high and go crush it. Sing loud, dance crazy and smile.  

Top graphic Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash 

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Angie K

Angie K

I love to help teachers create an amazing teacher life.
I've taught for 25+ years and I want to help you find joy and energy in each day.

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