Transitions really help to keep your classroom running smoothly – especially as a substitute teacher. Transitions are a perfect way for the children to have a quick break after a busy lesson, to calm the children down after a very active lesson, to motivate them or to give you 5 minutes to get the lesson organised especially when you get a last minute call in the morning and there’s no plan left as the class teacher is absent unexpectedly.

Calming transitions

Guided meditation

There are tons of these on YouTube. Choose your favourites beforehand.

Breathing exercises (triangle breathing or square breathing)

Draw a triangle or square on the board and practise breathing exercises. This video is good.

Mindful colouring

You can get tons of these online for free. Have some printed and bring them with you.

Gratitude journal

Write down 3 things that you’re grateful for or 3 things that went well today.

Rainbow moments

Games with a subject focus

Tables champ

Two children are chosen. A times table is called out. First child to answer correctly goes through to the next round. (Could also work in teams)

Tables tennis

Split the class into two. Choose a multiple. Each side calls out the next multiple.

Capitals champ

Two children are chosen. A country or capital is called out. First child to name the capital or country goes through to the next round. (Could also work in teams)

Maths champ

Maths questions based on current topic. Children can answer on whiteboards or in teams.


Choose words from the class novel/book. Discuss these words, what do they mean, make links and connections to other words. Choose 4/5 children to be on. They can hold a whiteboard in front of them (that they can’t see/behind their back or you could stick a piece of paper to their back) with one of the words. Another child is then chosen to give a definition and the child has to guess the word.

Maths vocabulary

Similar to VoBACKulary but with maths vocabulary.


You’ll find tons of these online. I find this website good but it’s important to check that they are child friendly.


Another great game for concentration. Again, there are tons of these available to download for free online.

Visual literacy

If not a star – what is it? (Check out Clara Maria Fiorentini)


Heads down thumbs up

3 children are chosen to be on. The rest of the class put their heads down on the desk, close their eyes and put their thumbs up. The 3 children who are on then gently put down one child’s thumb (3 children in total). After 10 seconds, the children who had their thumbs put down come to the top of the class and stand behind the person they think put their thumb down. If they’re correct, they are next to be on, if not the child who was on remains on.


One child is chosen and stands with their back to the class. Another child is chosen and says the word ‘sausages’ in a funny voice. The child who is on then has to guess who said it.

Leader of the (silent) orchestra

One child is chosen to be on and they step outside the room. Another child is chosen to be the leader. This child then leads the orchestra changing the instruments that he/she plays (silently) and the rest of the class has to copy. The child who is on then has to guess the leader of the orchestra.


A magic number is chosen e.g. 13. Children then say 1-2-3 numbers (in order)

Child 1: 1,2,3

Child 2: 4,5

Child 3: 6,7,8

Child 4: 9,10,11

Child 5: 12

Child 6: 13 (and is knocked out)

Tongue twisters

These are great as a quick activity to get the children motivated/have a bit of fun. Here are some of my favourites in English and as Gaeilge.


Go Noodle

Joe Wicks – The Body Coach

Just Dance – YouTube

Everybody Dance Now

Give me 5 (5 jumping jacks, high knees, bum kicks, squat jumps, side steps)

10@10 (Operation Transformation)

Cosmic Yoga


Find someone who

Mission Impossible timer (clean up)