How to Motivate Students to Clean Up

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Do you ever look around your classroom and think- "Didn't we *just* clean up?"

Yeah, me too.  I'm not a Type A person, but even I get annoyed at the amount of pencils left on the floor.

In a perfect world, kids would clean up simply because you told them to.  I don't live in a perfect world though.  However, I don't live in a perfect world.  My students often need a little more motivation to do the things they don't want to do- like clean!





Here are 5 ways I motivate students to clean!

1.  Training.
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP.

Yes, I know kids should be able to clean up.  However, we aren't working with perfect children.  Some of them have been taught to clean up, but other's have not.  You can not control what they SHOULD know so show the how to do it myself.  At the beginning of the year, I play the song and model for students how to make their desk look like the clean desk poster.  Then I model how to check around your own desk and clean up your own space first. Then I show students how to WALK around the room to look for trash.  We have multiple conversations about what to do and what not to do.

After I have modeled, I play the song again but I keep the volume down.  I talk students through the process of using the clean desk poster and picking up the floor or arranging the desks.  After a few practice runs of this, I play the music and watch.  After cleaning up, we talk about what went well and what didn't.  Soon, I can start the song and student's get right to work.

2. Play a Tune.
In my room, we play Rockin' Robin. I pull up the version by the Jackson 5 on YouTube.  As soon as student's hear the opening tweets, they get to work.  They also have memorized when the song is ending and can get to their seats before it is over. Having a song is a great way of using nonverbal communication.

3. Mystery Trash
One of student's favorite games to play is Mystery Trash.  Before starting the clean up song, I pick something in the room that needs picked up or fixed.  It could be a particular pencil, a chair that needs put away, a book in the wrong place, etc.  I watch for the student who picks it up.  After clean up, I announce the Mystery Trash winner and what they did that won.  I give them a brag tag and a pawbuck.  (Pawbucks are part of my school's PBIS plan.)

I use brag tags from this set!


4.  Clean Desk Poster.
Cleaning their desk is the first step of clean up time.  I  use this clean desk poster by Angela Watson.  The clean desk poster is important because it gives students a visual reminder of what you want their desk to look like.

5.  Desk Fairy visits.
Occasionally, the desk fairy visits and leaves a treat!  It doesn't happen often, but it makes for some happy kids.


What clean up tips do you have?

by Crystal @Primary on the Prowl

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