As the school year draws to a close and the weather becomes sunnier, teachers across the UK are getting ready for transition time - a special period where they bid farewell to their old class and welcome the new one. It’s a delicate time filled with emotion, excitement, and sometimes a little nervousness as we all step into unfamiliar territory.
Helping students transition smoothly between year groups is crucial for fostering a positive learning environment and encouraging personal growth. To help ease the transition, we’ve compiled a list of 15 engaging and interactive activities you can use to foster camaraderie and familiarity before the next school year starts.
15 Awesome Activities to Make Transition Time Easier Than Ever
- Knowing Me, Knowing You Cards: These cards ask children to share information about themselves with you, allowing you to get to know your students before the new year starts. You can download a template for these cards here.
- Getting to Know You Bingo: This is a wonderful ice-breaker. Students go around the class finding someone who matches a square on their bingo board, helping them learn about their classmates while having fun. You can create your own, or use our free, ready-to-use bingo card.
- Letter to the Next Year Group: Have your pupils write a letter to their future teacher, sharing their expectations, fears, and hopes. We’ve got a lesson plan here to help year 6 students prepare for secondary school, but this activity can be adapted to any year group and is great for practicing letter-writing skills in addition to preparing pupils for the year ahead.
- Friendship Letter Template: Encourage your pupils to write a letter to their new classmates, nurturing the seeds of new friendships. Alternatively, get them to write a letter to someone they know well who will be in their new class, sharing how they can support one another during this time. Friendship letter templates are a great way of making this activity more engaging and separating it from other school-year tasks.
- All About Me: Use this 23-slide PowerPoint on transition day to guide you through a range of activities and lesson ideas for how you can get to know your students better. The PowerPoint is packed full of fun ideas to ease any nerves on transition day.
- Pupil Passport: Either create a passport template to hand out to students or get them to create their own, where they can share their name, a self-drawn portrait, facts about themselves, what helps them learn, and their goals for the new school year. You can make this age appropriate by lowering the difficulty of the questions, for example, asking students for their favourite colour and animal instead of strengths and weaknesses. To take away some of the prep work, you can download a free passport template here.
- Transitional Colouring Page: Boost pupils’ spirits with an encouraging poster they can colour and then put up on their wall for positivity throughout the summer. This ‘I am a Star’ bunting is a nice way of helping pupils reflect on their achievements from the previous year.
- Set up a Question Box: Ask everyone to write down a question they have about the new school year and put them in a box anonymously. Then mix up all the papers and pull one out and answer it to the class. This way you can answer their questions, without anyone holding back because they’re too shy to ask.
- Fact or Fiction: Adapt the “two truths and a lie” game by asking pupils to come up with one fact and one lie about themselves. You then go around the room asking each pupil to share their “facts”. Everyone must then guess which is the truth and which is the lie.
- Children’s Name Word Search: Utilise an online tool to create a word search (or crossword) with your new pupils’ names. It's a fun, engaging way to familiarise everyone with each other’s names.
- “I Cans”: Ask your pupils to write five things they feel competent at to understand their strengths and boost their confidence. These things can be school related (such as “I can recite all my times tables”) or just something about them (such as “I can do the splits”.)
- Give a Compliment: Once students are acquainted (either toward the end of the transition period or because they are an established class), have them get into groups of 5 or 6. Then ask them to write their name on the top of a sheet of paper. They then pass their paper around the group and each person writes a compliment about that person on their paper. This activity promotes positivity, confidence, and mutual appreciation.
- Hula-Hoop Circle: Go outside (or into the hall) and ask pupils to stand in a circle holding hands. Then break the circle and put the hula hoop on one pupil’s shoulder. They then must work together to get the hula hoop around the circle without letting go of each other’s hands. This activity is a lot of fun and builds camaraderie.
- Line Up: Ask pupils to stand in a line (all facing toward you, shoulder-to-shoulder) and ask them to get into different orders, such as height, age, or house number. There are two ways to play this, you can either get them to do it without speaking or ask them all to stand on a bench and manoeuvre around one another without falling off.
- Question Chain: Sit in a circle and turn to the pupil on your left and right and ask them a question. They have to answer the question, and then turn to the subsequent person and ask a new question. Alternatively, play in smaller groups in a “Don’t Forget the Bacon!” style, where the first person asks a question, then the next answers the question and asks a new one, and the third answers both questions and asks a new one, and so on. This is especially hard as they have to remember the question but give their own unique answer!
Transition time is not just about saying goodbye to one year and welcoming the next; it's about helping students adapt to new environments, build new friendships, and develop a sense of belonging. As teachers, we have the opportunity to make this transition smoother and more enjoyable.
And remember, to make lesson planning for the new school year a breeze, check out the plethora of resources available on Pango. The time-saving and progressive schemes, lessons, and supporting resources across nine subjects will save you time and help ensure that you are fully prepared to welcome your new students. To explore all the resources Pango has to offer, start a free trial today.