Structured opening and closing preschool activities help students transition to and from school. Some children experience separation anxiety when their parents drop them off, so lively, focused activities grab their attention and help them get into school mode. As a preschool teacher, opt for opening and closing activities that promote interaction, such as songs, table games and physical exercise.
Start your morning with a friendly greeting song that welcomes preschoolers to your classroom. You might sing the song yourself or play it on your computer or digital music player. Use the same song every day so your kids learn the words and sing along. For example, you might select a song that has a hello, good-morning, welcome or start-to-day theme with lyrics to a familiar tune, such as "Three Blind Mice," "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "The Farmer in the Dell." End the day with a similar song that has a goodbye or see-you-tomorrow message, reminding your class that you'll be back together soon. Encourage participation by including hand motions, such as waving, clapping, dancing or twirling, in your songs.
Organize table activities, so students have something to keep them busy while you talk to parents and greet incoming students or dismiss them at the end of the day. Table activities might include puzzles, coloring pages, stickers, salt dough, small building blocks or educational manipulatives, such as plastic 3-D shapes and foam pattern pieces. Make sure your table activities are self-explanatory and don't require messy supplies, such as paint or markers. Keep table-activity supplies in labeled plastic bins, so children can get them out and clean them up quickly and efficiently.
Host a circle time to open and close your official classroom activities each day. Ask your preschoolers to make a large circle on the floor and to listen attentively to your instructions. In the morning, use circle time to discuss the schedule of events for that day, the calendar, classroom birthdays, the weather and any classroom rules that need special attention, suggests veteran teacher, reading specialist and author Heidi Butkus on her website Heidi Songs. You might ask a different student every day to be your helper, such as changing the date on the calendar or posting a premade weather symbol -- rain, snow, sun, wind or clouds. Give students an opportunity to ask questions about that day's events. Use circle time at the end of the day to discuss accomplishments or enjoyable moments, and read a final story.
Start and end your day with organized physical exercise that isn't too wild or rambunctious. The goal is to create a team-centered atmosphere where everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. Exercise also helps sleepy kids get going in the morning and stay awake. You might lead them in calisthenics, stretching exercises, yoga or simple dance steps. Make sure you have plenty of room, so kids don't bump into tables or chairs. Use a whistle to encourage a somewhat formal exercise format -- you don't want kids running recklessly around the room. Make sure the exercises are age-appropriate and low-impact.
- Child Care Lounge: Circle Time Activities and Ideas for Preschoolers
- Heidi Songs: Morning Routines That Really Work for Pre-K and Kindergarten -- and More Hidden Sight Word Worksheets!
- PreschoolEducation.com: Music & Songs -- Circle Time -- Hello
- SongsForTeaching.com: Songs for Classroom Transitions
- High Scope: Daily Routine