Transition Words for 2nd and 3rd Grade Students

, Staff Writer
Updated January 7, 2021
2nd grader doing transition words lesson
    2nd grader doing transition words lesson
    Madhourse / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

Do you need tips on teaching transition words for second grade or third grade? Maybe you need some ideas on getting students to write more effectively? Explore the basic transition words for 2nd and 3rd grade along with activities for teaching these words to students.

What Are Transition Words?

Second and third grade students use transition words to link phrases and whole sentences together. Why use transition words? Using transition words is an effective way to:

  • develop cause and effect relationships
  • show sequence and order
  • clarify where and how something happened
  • assist in comparing and contrasting
list of transition words

List of transition words

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Basic Transition Words for 2nd Grade

Second grade students are starting to further their writing knowledge and look at the sequence of events in stories. Transition word knowledge comes in handy at this time.

Let's look at four groups of transition words for 2nd grade with some examples of each.

  • time order - first, second, later, once, next, then, earlier, suddenly, meanwhile, before, afterward, soon, immediately, yesterday, tomorrow
  • cause/effect - because, since, so, if, therefore, as a result, of, then
  • location/descriptive - among, nearby, above, below, opposite, next to, beneath, beside, in front of
  • compare/contrast - like, although, but, in the same way, also, otherwise, however, on the other hand, unlike

Basic Transition Words for 3rd Graders

In 3rd grade, students work to build off the transition words they learned in 2nd grade by incorporating transitional phrases like "with this in mind" and "even though." They also explore some additional transition word groups.

See examples of third grade transition words and their groups:

  • examples/support - in fact, in general, truly, such as, for example, including, especially
  • conclusion - after all, in summary, to summarize, usually, overall, all in all, evidently, definitely, finally, lastly

Activities for Transition Words

When explaining transition words to 2nd and 3rd grade students, tell them they are learning to go with the flow. Transition words help connect the facts of the story in a way that the reader can easily follow. They help in describing things, explaining when, where, and how things happened, and comparing one thing to another. To further enhance this concept, try these transition word activities.


Transition Word Scavenger Hunt

For this activity, you’re going to need a list of transition words and reading material that includes the transition words you chose.

  1. Put students into pairs.
  2. Write transition words and phrases on the board for your class level.
  3. Have the pairs look through the provided reading material around to find the transition words.
  4. The first to find all the transition words wins a small prize.

Decorate Your Transition Word

This activity requires students to have a half sheet of paper to decorate a transition word and a transition word for each student.

  1. Give the students each paper, markers and a transition word.
  2. Have them write their transition word on the paper and decorate their transition word to be fun and creative.
  3. List each of the transition word groups (time, cause/effect, etc.) on the board.
  4. Have each student put their word under the correct group.
  5. Leave this up as a fun transition word wall.

Transition Word Bingo

For this activity, you'll need blank bingo cards for students to write transition words on. You’ll also need a variety of sentences containing your transition words.

  1. Have students fill in the spaces of their bingo cards with transition words (you can give them a list if they are struggling).
  2. Read and display the sentences, having students cover up the transition word on their bingo card.
  3. Reward the winners with a small prize.

Create a Story Using Transition Words

For this activity, students design a story that includes at least five transition words. Write transition words on the board for students to choose from.

  1. Provide each student with a piece of paper and crayons/markers.
  2. Have them create their story using the five transition words.
  3. Allow them to draw a picture to go with their stories.
  4. Hang the stories around the room to showcase how each student used the transition words.

Transition Words Worksheet

You can print out a transition words worksheet to use as an in-class activity, a homework assignment or a quiz. The worksheet features choose-the-right-word and fill-in-the-blank questions along with a section on completing sentences using transition words.

transition words worksheet

Transition words for second grade

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Using Transition Words With Your Students

Train your elementary students to be great writers by introducing transition words early. Keep your vocabulary motion going forward by looking at 2nd grade grammar examples and worksheets. If you've got third graders or advanced 2nd graders, you can explore more third grade grammar skills.