Updated: Dec 4, 2021
Does your school hold transition days? If you are wondering what this day is, a transition day is when you get to meet your new class for the following year. This usually involves spending half a day or a full day with next year’s students.
The first question that usually crosses one's mind is, what we will do for the day? Ideally, you want to make it an enjoyable and comfortable day for everyone involved. There will be many emotions on the day from excitement to nervousness!
To help with organising the day we have put together some fun and helpful ideas:
1. Get to know your teacher
Students are just as fascinated about you as you are about them. A fun way I have introduced myself in the past is by creating a Kahoot quiz where students answer ten questions about their new teacher (me!). I like to include some facts about what I shared in the welcome letter that was sent home to the students, as well as some other things they will learn about me throughout the year. Alternatively, you could fill a bag or box with interesting artefacts about you and asks the students to guess what each item means. This too could lead to a fun lesson where students create their artefact box. An excellent ice-breaker and an activity that will appease curious minds about who you are.
2. Read a story
Stories are a great way that people connect. I highly recommend reading a storybook with your new class. You may wish to choose a picture book that relates to transition day. Books for topics has a great list of books if you are stuck for ideas. When selecting a book, you may want to base it on a value or trait they will further develop next year such as resilience, kindness, growth mindset, tolerance or curiosity, to name a few.
3. Choose a theme
In the past, I have chosen a topic to keep the day flowing. This year it was all about the Gingerbread Man (I'm teaching Year 2s). We began the day by reading the story, then students completed a literacy activity such as sequencing the story. Next, we did some gingerbread maths where we played games that involved practising our number facts. After that, we designed our own gingerbread man or woman. Lastly, we finished by making our own gingerbread people made from actual dough which they can bake at home. All in all, it was a fun-filled day. For older students, the theme of choice could also be based on a book or specific topic.
4. Class Puzzle
The bonus of transition day is learning early in the piece, which students will be in your class, which means you can get a head start at the beginning of the year prep. When I was teaching Year 4, I would give each student a puzzle piece. They would have to include their name and decorate the piece in a way that helped us learn a bit more about them. I would keep them and have it as a door display for the start of the new year together.
5. Learn about them
I like to know a bit about my students soon after I meet them. Transition days are a great way to find out more about your students before it is officially the new school year. An easy way to do this is by asking students to complete a quick questionnaire or fact card about themselves. The template below is one I have used in the past. It was very helpful to read back over during the summer break. Click the image below to get your free copy.
6. Get creative
I highly recommend having an activity that allows your new class to showcase their creativity. As well, if it involves cutting you can gauge students fine motor skills. A fun one I like to do is for students to complete a self-portrait on an A3 piece of paper. I like to add some sunglasses, which include lines, so when students return in the new year, they can record an event from their summer holidays. What's even better than at the end of the first day, you have a display ready to go up!
Here are some other craft ideas:
Design a bookmark
Christmas ornament (For us Aussie's these transition days are leading up to the festive season)
Collaborative art piece
So much of the school year students are given opportunities to finesse their skills as a collaborator! A fun way to do this is by presenting students with a challenge to solve in teams. I find STEM/STEAM challenges are great. If you search online, you will find many fabulous ideas. Here are some easy to implement collaborative Stem challenges we found from User Generated Education.
Have name labels for students to wear
Be prepared and have the materials you need ready to go
Let students know of basic housekeeping expectations from the beginning of the day, such as bathroom breaks, where materials are kept, etc.
Have an extra lesson up your sleeve in case. It is better to be over-prepared if the class flies through the activities you planned.
If you can, try to connect individually with each student throughout the day.
Younger students (or students who can be anxious) might also like to take a photo home of their new classmates and teacher to help them feel secure over the summer break.
No matter what you have planned for meeting your new class during transition day, just the novelty of meeting a new teacher and spending the day in a different classroom can make for an exciting experience. If your school doesn't do transition days, no worries because these ideas are also perfect for back to school.
We'd love to hear if you have any other great ideas for transition days.