Transition Day Activities for Meeting Your New Class
You’ve almost survived another year and the summer holidays are finally in sight! However, first there’s a transition day to plan for and organise. It needs to be full of exciting and engaging transition day activities with which to welcome your new class. You want to give them a taste of the year to come with you as their new teacher. No pressure then!
Transition days, or swap days, can cause a wide range of emotions - excitement, worry and apprehension being just a few. It is important to remember that both you and the children are likely to be feeling a mixture of these emotions. Therefore, it is essential to begin fostering strong relationships, building trust and self-esteem, and developing a class ethos from the very first time you meet. This will help your new cohort of children feel safe, valued and eager to return after the holidays. Here are a few ideas for some different games and activities to help you do this…
Transition day activities for getting to know each other
Truth or Fib Game
The children (and you) think of two true ‘facts’ about themselves (e.g. I have two pet rabbits and I can play the guitar), and one made up fib (e.g. I go to ballet lessons). Children can choose to make the ‘fib’ quite outrageous or potentially believable. Each child takes it in turn to announce their three statements in a random order. You and/or the rest of the class (this depends on how well the children already know each other) then try to figure out which statement is the fib.
A slight variation of this for older children would be for them to say two truths and a wish – something that is not yet true but they hope it soon will be – but say all three statements in the present tense.
Knowing Me, Knowing You
Foster good relationships with the children by asking them to fill in one of these ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ cards. Responding to their fun facts, thoughts or worries in a personalised way will help your children feel valued and safe in their classroom environment. You can write a reply on the back for them, or have a chat with them about their fact. These cards could be available to children to fill in throughout the year to keep fostering a positive relationship with each child and to give children a safe space to share their worries and concerns.
What Would You Do? (And other questions, too)
Encourage children to open up and share more about themselves by asking questions such as: What colour best represents you? What animal best represents you? Why? To extend this type of activity, download this free What Would You Do? Game (there are different versions for KS1, LKS2 and UKS2). This mixture of fun and thought-provoking questions will get your class discussing how they would react in a variety of different circumstances.
If you have time, create a quick multiple-choice quiz about you to help your new class get to know you! They could then make up one of their own about themselves.
All About Me
Younger children could complete a section of this All About Me Bunting which can be strung up across the room as a class display.
Children's Names Wordsearch
Give the children a word search to do in class/take home at the end of the day which has all of their names (plus yours and any other adults in the class) hidden somewhere within. Older children could even make one of their own.
Transition day activities for developing confidence and self-esteem
'I can…' statements
Ask children to write five sentences beginning ‘I can…’, in which they tell you something that they can do, e.g. ‘I can ride a bike’, ‘I can recite the 6 times table’, ‘I can tie my shoelaces’. Alternatively, each ‘I can…’ statement could be written on post-its and stuck onto a piece of paper or classroom wall, with the following title: ‘Look at everything we can do as a class!’
Hand Out a Compliment
This works best with a class who already know each other to some degree. Children sit on chairs in a circle, each with a pencil and piece of paper. They draw around their hand and write their name at the top of the paper. Children then stand up and place it on their chair. Taking their pencil with them, they move around the other seats, writing something that they like/admire about a particular person on their ‘hands’. Children do this for as many other people as they can. After a while, ask children to return to their own seats and read the compliments they have been ‘handed’. You could ask them how this makes them feel, and why. Children can keep the piece of paper and take it home.
Transition day activities for teamwork and being supportive
Hula-hoop Circle Game
For this game, you may need to use the hall or playground for this activity. Children stand in a circle holding hands or arms. The circle is temporarily broken to place a hula-hoop over the joined hands/arms of two of the children. Their challenge is to work together to move the hula hoop around the circle, without anyone letting go of each other. Children will have to wriggle, jiggle and manoeuvre themselves and the hoop! Encourage children to give each other help and advice.
'Line Ups' Game
A group of children stand on a bench, and are given the challenge of ordering themselves according to various different ‘themes’ - the date or month of their birthdays, their house numbers, height, etc. Children must help each other to move to the correct place on the bench without falling off! A ‘benchless’ version of this activity could be carried out where children are not allowed to speak - only gestures can be used to communicate and organise themselves!
Involve your class in decisions about the classroom and their learning: What do we want our classroom to be like? How can we ensure this? What do we all need to do? What would you like to learn about this year?
Discuss the values they think are important, and that they would like to see in their class, e.g. patience, consideration, kindness, cooperation, perseverance. These Character Trait Certificates could be used to help reinforce the importance of values such as these throughout the school year.
Assign roles and responsibilities within class, or promote a child’s strengths that they can use to help others, e.g. Sarah is good at tying shoelaces – you can ask her to help if you are having trouble. PlanBee’s ESR (Education for Social Responsibility) lesson entitled ‘Being Kind to You and Me: Are You a Bucket Filler?’ for KS1 encourages children to think about their actions and interactions with others around them, and the effects kind and unkind actions might have on themselves as well as others.
Set up a Question Box
In the early days, children might have many questions, but may be too shy or nervous to ask them in front of everyone else. This way, their questions can be answered and they remain anonymous.
Whatever transition day activities you choose, I hope you and your new class enjoy meeting and learning about each other! If you want to read more about creating a happy, safe environment for your new class check out our advice for creating mentally healthy classrooms.