Look closely... find the orange play dough:
Play dough isn't a noisy classroom material (the rolling pins that the students use to flatten the stuff on the other hand...), which pretty much explains how one of my Stars managed to spread multiple pellets of orange clay all over our classroom carpet while I was reading a story at circle.
He was "cleaning" his center.
Ten minutes later, he "did the writing center:"
When learning and exploring, students can create messes. Mess-making is part of our creative process, but you've no doubt noticed that we often need a clean palette when we start start to get our creative groove on. Children must learn how to not only make a mess, but to clean up after themselves so that classmates and peers can use the space and materials in their own way safely.
* Introduce students to a clean up song, and no, it doesn't have to be the "Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Do Your Share" song either! I play an upbeat instrumental song, a favorite class sing-along, or a lyrically appropriate rock song on our c.d. player and tell the class that the floor/desks/cubbies must be clean prior to the end of the song. Music and movement, cleanliness and cooperation... all good things!
* Tell your students in code, in another language, or indicate by holding up several fingers how many things they need to take care of in the room (pushing in chairs, returning materials to bins, books to shelves, picking up pieces of garbage off of the floor) before going to recess or lunch. Clean up several times throughout the day instead of saving it all for the end-of-the-school-day-rush.
* Assign clean up jobs/responsibilities to students for the week: Student A will push in chairs, Student B will sharpen pencils, Student C will pass out papers, and Student D will inspect learning centers, making sure each rotation enables students to leave a center clean for their peers and join one that has been left clean for their own use.
* Has the Desk Fairy ever visited your classroom? No? Well then it's time to let her visit, leaving the following message with a new pencil or bookmark:
I made a little visit,
and found your desk was neat,
so I thought it only proper
to leave a little treat!
* Purchase child-sized whisk brooms and dust pans. Teach your students how to use them appropriately.
* Fair is fair: if you made the mess, you clean it up. You may ask for help after you've started, but your friends might be busy cleaning up their own messes and won't be able to help.
* Many parents have a clean up system in place at home, but for those who don't, share your clean up song and classroom routines in your weekly letters or messages. Chances are, parents clean up after their children (which is why students leave their materials messy and forgotten with easy abandon) and would appreciate being able to use a routine already recognized by their son/daughter from school.
What are your tricks of the trade for making sure students clean up after themselves? Please share them in the comment section!