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Thursday, September 16, 2021


Taking responsibility for cleaning up the classroom nurtures responsibility, cooperation, a sense of accomplishment, and organizational skills.  Someone once told me:  ONLY DO WHAT ONLY YOU CAN DO!  You'll be amazed at what children can do to care for classroom materials.  However, you're going to have to "teach" children how to clean up, just like you teach them how to write their name.  And, it will take some time, modeling, and specific guidelines.   

Clean up will also be much more successful if you choose a song and sing it consistently when you want the children to tidy up. You really can use any song that you like (country, broadway, college fight song), but use the same song every day and then model what you want the children to do. 

I used to sing these songs in my classroom and to my own children at home. (My daughter and son would clean up just to get me to shut up!)

A Helper I Will Be (“The Farmer in the Dell”)
A helper I will be.
A helper I will be.
There’s work to do,
There’s work to do.
A helper I will be.
A picker up I’ll be.
A picker up I’ll be.
It’s time to put our things away,
A picker up I’ll be.

Hint! Change the words to whatever you want the children to do, such as “pick up the trash,” “push in the chairs,” etc.

Tidy Up (“Jingle Bells”)
Tidy up, tidy up, put your things away.
Tidy up, tidy up, we’re finished for today.
Oh, tidy up, tidy up, put your things away.
For we’ll get them out again another school day.

We’ve had lots of fun as we’ve worked and played.
Now it’s time to all join in and play the clean up game.

Can You? (Tune: “Skip to My Lou”)
I can clean quietly, how about you?
I can clean quietly, how about you?
I can clean quietly, how about you?
How about you, my darlin?

*Change the words to “push in my chair,” “pick up trash,” etc.

Magic Trash
Select one random piece of trash to be the “magic trash.” Have children pick up the room. As they dump the paper and scraps in the trash can, inspect what they have in their hands. The one to find the “magic trash” gets a prize or gets to be the line leader. (Only you and I know there's no special piece of trash!)


To help prepare children bring closure to what they are doing and clean-up before another activity set a timer for five minutes. Explain, “You have five more minutes. When the timer goes off we will have a whisper clean up.”

*One of my classroom jobs was called "the five minute person."  When there were five minutes before we needed to clean up the "five minute person" would skip around the room and hold up five fingers as they warned their classmates, "Five more minutes!  Five more minutes!"  (It was one of our most popular jobs!)

Who You Gonna Call?
Send a letter home asking if anyone has an old dust buster to donate to your classroom. Choose one person each day to be the “dust buster.” When there’s a mess shout, “Who you gonna call?” Children respond, “Dust buster!” The designated “dust buster” of the day GETS to clean up the mess.

Classroom Jobs
Assign classroom jobs weekly. Title the jobs by real careers.
Supervisor – Calls the roll.
Maintenance – Picks up the classroom.
Police Officer – Makes sure everyone walks slowly in the hall.
Mail Carrier – Passes out papers.
Librarian – Cleans the classroom library.
Gardener – Waters the plants.
Meteorologist – Gives the morning weather report.
Accountant – Does the lunch count.
UPS – Takes reports to the office.