Snapshots of Classroom Management 1: Antsy Pants
Several years ago one of myÂ choir directors came to me and said, “I tend to lose control of my kids when I am handing out or collecting instruments. Â Do you have any songs that will accomplish that and keep their attention?” I could not findÂ anyÂ at the time, so I started writing transition songs. Directors kept coming and asking for songs or chants to accomplish specific tasks. After several years and four volumes of Preschool Praisentations, I had quite the little collection of transition songs and chants. Â Thus was bornÂ Songs and Chants for Antsy Pants.
A transition is more thanÂ a song or chant to get children in line or to sit down. However that’s the partÂ we’llÂ discuss today.Â Just as these transitions serve a real purpose, the key to understanding any transition lies in the art of anticipation.Â Anticipation is best served by having a lesson plan. With a lesson plan in place, transitions will be easy to include in your teaching. Here are some of the different types of transitions included on Songs and Chants for Antsy Pants.
Types of Transitions:
- Greetings can be poems or songs or even fun chants. These songsÂ will call everyone together as you sing. TheyÂ can also be routines, like putting on a hat. But be consistent so that children recognize when your time together begins.
- Call & Response transitions can be used to teach almost anythingâ€”rhythms, melodies, words, confidence, pitch, dictation, voice fluctuation, scripture. They can even be used to call everyone together. InÂ Antsy PantsÂ we use the call and response technique in songs to learn names. Listen to examples from the CD.
- Singing or Chanting InstructionsÂ areÂ a wonderful way to keep talking to a minimum and keepÂ students’ attention. When distributing instruments I will sing a song over and over again until everyone has received their instrument. Usually the kids sing along.
Example: Using fluctuations in the voice is another way to get attention. Going
from a full speaking voice to a whisper is very effective in getting kids attention.Â
- Fun songs can teach many things such as manners, coordination, body parts, names of places or things, etc. Fun songs can also be used just to get the wiggles out or reset the attention span.
- In the same manner that a greeting can be a poem or a song or even a fun chant, so can a closing. Closings can also be routines. But again be consistent so that children recognize when your time together is finished.
Tip: Use voice fluctuations for giving instructions. Chants, song instructions,
and sounds are also a wonderful way to transition to a new activity.
Tip: You do not need a transition between every activity.
How to Implement Transitions
Set a goal. Â Think about your teaching time. Â Where is it that you need help? Â Distributing items or collecting them? Â Do you need more control standing up and sitting down between activities? Â Choose one or two transitions to learn. Â Write them in your lesson plan and get in the habit of using them. Â For example, learn a “stand up and sit down” song, and get in the habit of using it before learning any more transitions. Once using itÂ become second nature, choose another transition song to learn.
Teaching should not be an overwhelming process but a fun, continually growing process. Â TheseÂ transitionsÂ are a simple tool for reaching your goal.
If you give a man to fish, he can eat for a day.
If you teach a man to fish, he can eat for a lifetime.
Keep teaching, keep improving, and whatever you do, keep singing.