Transition Preview

Routine Essentials: Transition

Activities, Ideas & Supports for the Transition Routine

Review the activities below and then use the links to the right to download visual supports for each activity.

Activities / IdeasMaterials Provided

Use a Transition Schedule at the Student's Level - Object/Photo/Icon

  1. Identify location in room where student schedules will be placed (wall or shelf).
  2. Put schedule strip on wall within student's reach (can be vertical or horizontal) or adhere to a shelf. 
  3. Put check schedule pocket next to student schedules.
  4. Put a handful of check schedule icons in an apron or pocket.
  5. Place student's photo and/or name next to his/her individual schedule.
  6. Label areas of room with “landing stations” using activity/location icons (e.g., DT area is the “green” area).  
  7. Put 1-4 location icons (depending on level of student) on schedule strip to identify the order of activities/locations, starting with the first activity.
  8. Student removes activity/location icon from his/her schedule and goes to the appropriate activity and places the icon on the “landing station.”

Increase the Complexity of the Schedule

When students become independent at transitioning using a check schedule icon and “landing station,” drop out both of these supports and introduce written schedules with a self-check mark and/or time schedule. 

  • Daily Activity Schedule (Purchase for Access)
  • My Time Schedule (Purchase Access)
  • Today's Schedule (Purchase for Access)

Behavior Supports

Transitions can be difficult for many students and initially it may be helpful to provide additional motivation for students to follow a pre-set schedule.

  • Use the first/then visual and place the location/activity icon he/she took off the schedule under “first”, then place a reinforcer icon under “then” to show the student when he/she will earn a preferred item. This helps make non-motivating tasks more positive.
  • When initially teaching transitions, provide the student a short time with a preferred item immediately after transitioning to the new location and placing the icon on the “landing station.” 
  • Change is hard for some students. Add a “special activity” icon to the student’s schedule at random intervals.  The special activity should be something different each time.  At first, make the special activity highly preferred so he/she begins to enjoy unexpected changes to the schedule. 
  • For students who have difficulty leaving preferred activities, develop a “finished” step at the end of the specific routine.  Example: When creating a routine for free choice,  make the last step to put all toys away in closed containers, thus ending the opportunity for the student to continue to play with toys.
  • Behavior Supports (Purchase for Access)

Use a Transition Signal and Warning

  • Provide a "warning" prior to the signal for transition. Turning lights on and off, stating "3 more minutes," and other cues can be effective in warning students a transition will occur.
  • Use a timer or bell to signal when it is time to check schedules. When initially teaching the student to attend to the bell or timer:
    1. Get the student's attention: use a cue such as "listen" while holding up the timer or bell in clear view for the student.
    2. Ring bell or set timer off while handing the student the check schedule icon. 
  • Transition Signal Icons (Purchase for Access)

Activity Mini-steps

Provide a “mini-schedule” next to the location/activity icon on the student’s schedule to provide the student information as to what materials are needed for the activity. 
Example:  Next to the activity/location icon “independent work” provide a visual mini schedule: get crayons, get glue, go to table.

  • Sequence Strip Template (Purchase for Access)

Organizational Support for Instructional Staff

  • Organize and keep track of visuals to ensure that visuals are always available.  Jewelry sorters, fishing tackle boxes and craft storage boxes all work well for this purpose.
  • Use electronic devices (phones, tablets) to preset multiple transition time periods (i.e, preset a tablet to chime every 20 minutes during teaching time rotations). Use a unique ring tone to signify a "transition warning" and use a different ring tone to signal the actual transition. 
  • For students only able to have 1-4 icons on the schedule, prepare additional icons ahead of time by putting a piece of velcro above the schedule. Place the remaining icons for the day on this strip so the student only sees a few events at a time. As student becomes more successful with 1-4 icons, place more icons in student view. 
  • Use the E-Scheduler (located in the STAR Media Center) to assist in creating your classroom, adult and student schedules. 
  • Wall Strip Template (Purchase for Access)
  • E-Scheduler (Purchase for Access)
  • Example Photos- Coming Soon!

Special Events Mini-Schedule

Provide students a mini-schedule when a special event occurs.

  • Special Event Template- Coming Soon!
  • Field Trip- Coming Soon!
  • Party- Coming Soon!

Collect Data

Use the Transition Routine data form (STAR Blackline Master Books/CD) to identify difficult steps of the routine for additional instruction.