I wanted to share how I transition from morning work (or whatever you may call it) to the first thing on the schedule. I play a song called "Good Morning," that is a fast, cheerful, and upbeat song. My expectation is that everyone is in their seat, cleaned up, and ready to learn. The song is 1 minute and 47 seconds long, which is just enough time for the students to do everything they need to do. I LOVE it because it signals the students to cleanup without me having to tell them to do so, and it eliminates me having to countdown or set a timer. It is cute because most of the students sing along with the song too. This transition has worked wonderfully for me. I always got a kick out of it when I would walk over to the CD player and I would see the kids start to clean up because they knew the song was going to come on, or I would hear little whispers telling each other to start cleaning up - even before it came on!
I tried to search for this song everywhere, but couldn't find a sound clip. The CD is called "Good Morning Exercises for Kids," by Kimbo (click the link to bring you its Amazon listing). It is track #9, "Good Morning." I found the CD in my local library in the children's section.