The Journey to Next Year

P6120738or an insight into Prep transition!

This week we started our Prep Transition program for incoming prep students for 2012.

Being my second time participating in the Transition program, I had quite a good time. Last year (my first time participating) it was quite a shock to go from preps at the end of the year back to the little 4 year olds who stared wide-eyed at the classroom and the strange teacher in front of them. I haven’t really forgotten that feeling of “they’re so young” this year because quite a few of my current students are very young so I’ve never really lost that sense of ‘coping’ with kinder kids.

A few people from my PLN requested some information on how my school runs their transition program. Now, having only taught for two years – at the same school and in the same year level – I’m extremely biased when I say that I think our program is fantastic. Of course, what works for one school may not be the best fit for another school (and vice versa) so this post is purely to share what we do – and hopefully generate some discussion on what other schools do, etc.

We run five transition sessions over the first eight weeks of Term 4. Each session runs for 2 hours, with the exception of the first session which is a shorter introduction.

Session 1 is about getting to know the school. Students come into the classroom and engage in some fine motor/developmental play activities to settle in. We read a picture book (something they know, a popular book or a starting school book – I read Splat the Cat, and one of my colleagues read Baby Wombat’s Week), and then we go on a short school tour – highlighting where the playing and eating areas are, where the toilets and drink taps are, and visiting the Hall and the Library.

This year we’ve had an increase in enrolments and with so many families coming along on the day we split students into three groups (alphabetical for the first session, we’ll mix them up from session 2) and had our Grade 6 school leaders support us by pinning name badges on to students and staying in the classrooms to sit with students and walk around the school with us. This was extremely successful and I’m so glad we had our helpers – the students were very happy to have them around as an older person who wasn’t a ‘scary’ adult!

Session 2 will have a focus on art activities. One activity will be run by our specialist Art teacher who will rotate through the three classroom groups with extra classroom activities on hand as these activities finish up. We’ll also have a fruit snack (with fruit platters that come out of our fruit grant money!). We haven’t settled 100% on our art activities yet – but once we’ll do I’ll share them in a post.

Session 3 will introduce the students to our PMP and Computer programs. For PMP we’ll set up in the Hall and have a variety of equipment out for students to rotate through. For computers we’ll set up the laptops and let the students explore Tux Paint in pairs. I believe we’re hoping to have our ICT teacher come in and support us for this activity – mostly to introduce some of the teachers they’ll have next year – but we’ll see.

Session 4 usually sees the trial run of potential class structures for the new year. We may or may not trial this a little earlier to try and even up our classrooms a bit. We stay in the classroom for this session, have a fruit snack, and run a fine-motor activity. This will be a simple drawing of a butterfly that is provided for students, who then use cut-up squares of coloured paper to create a ‘mosaic’ by pasting the squares on the butterfly. We’ll also encourage the students to write their own name – giving us an indication of who can and cannot do this independently. As with the art activity, I’ll post some examples after the activity has been completed!

We also run a Parent Information Night during this week  which goes through the details of starting school for incoming families. This year we’ll be showing videos of this years’ students talking about their experiences at school so far! (That has been my pet project!)

The final session (5) is the final class structure, where the students will meet their class teacher for 2012 (and theoretically, their classroom… but the preps will be in the new building which is, at this stage, still incomplete!). Also a short session, it allows for students to ask questions about the next year, we read stories and sing songs. Finally we hand them a ‘showbag’ to take home.

The showbag usually contains a laminated name strip and texta so that students can practise writing their name over the holidays. We also include a little bag with coloured pasta and string to make a noodle-necklace (fine-motor, threading skills), a little tub of playdough, a calendar, a copy of the school song, coloured pencils and some simple tracing activities, etc. (Parents get the information folder, and the kids get the fun stuff – as it should be!)

And that’s the run-down of our transition session.

I’d love to hear your comments, suggestions, ideas, etc!

(Image from morgueFile, by mconnors)

What activities do you include in your transition program?

What picture books do you recommend/include in your transition program? (Always a good idea to have a good bank of ‘starting school’ books!)

2 thoughts on “The Journey to Next Year

  1. Hi Stef,
    I was very interested to hear how you run your Transition program – so thanks for the post. Our program is very similar. Last year we bought calico bags (about $2.00 each) and fabric crayons. The new Preps decorated their bag with their grade six buddies and have used it for their library bag. This was a great activity and a wonderful bonding activity for the buddies.
    I love your showbag idea! Particularly having their name to trace and practise over the holidays.
    I always find the Transition days a great reminder of how far our present Preps have come over the year and how much they have learnt! Sometimes it is a bit of a shock to step back to the beginning of the year and start all over again.
    I have taught Prep for 15 years and am still amazed at how they grow and change over the year. Prep really is the best place to be!

    Check out ‘The Kissing Hand’ by Audrey Penn – a beautiful first day/beginning school story for Preps. There are lots of activities online based on the story.
    Thanks again for the post,


    • @ Marie,

      I’m glad that you found the post interesting. I love the idea of buying and decorating Calico bags! If you don’t mind I might share that with my prep team.

      The showbags are fantastic – when I first saw them last year I fell in love with them because they had really simple, but really effective, activities. And with the name tracing activity – we made 2 copies of their names, 1 for the showbag and 1 for the first term of school where they could practise tracing their name as part of our fine motor program. It was nice and consistent for all students.

      I agree about the occasional shock of going back to the beginning again! I wasn’t too bad on Wednesday, but we’ll see how I go over the next few weeks. We are fortunate for next year – we have a large number of siblings starting school, who are all very familiar with the school and that makes a big difference, too.

      Wow – 15 years. That’s fantastic to hear. Preps really are fantastic to watch as they grow and learn – they are lots of fun, too!

      Thanks for the book recommendation – I’ll definitely look it up and add it to my collection!



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