Do you ever look around after the kids leave for the day and your room still looks like a tornado hit it? Struggle to get the kids to clean the classroom...well? Back in the student teaching days I learned a heaven-sent game from my mentor teacher and ten years later I still use it as one of my go-to tricks. I love that it's worked on Kindergartners, fifth graders, and every grade in between (literally). It only takes two minutes and everything is spotless and organized by the end. Here's how you play:
Secret Item Game
1. Have the kids gather at the rug or their desks to start.
2. As they watch quietly, walk around the room and mentally choose one or two items that are out of place or need to be cleaned up. (The kids like to watch me for any clues about what items I'm looking at so I ham this up a bit when I get to areas of the room I really want cleaned)
3. Once you have secretly chosen 2 items, remind the kids of the only 2 rules: no talking/noise and no running.
4. When you say "go" the kids silently rush around the room trying to put away the item you may have chosen. Anyone who talks or runs is disqualified and sent back to the rug.
5. When your secret item has been cleaned up or taken care of, call the kids back to the rug to announce the winner. I have a special treat jar that I NEVER use except for special occasions - I let the winner pick a prize out of this jar.
- Don't use this game every day, or too often, or the charm will wear off
- Don't tell the kids the item has been found until the classroom is as clean as you want it
- Every so often choose a hard item, like a certain pencil needing to be sharpened or a certain book straightened on the shelf
- Call "no winner" if no one takes care of your item quickly or within your time frame...the kids will be more likely to get creative with their cleaning/organizing next time and start cleaning areas they normally overlook
And voila! Your classroom is clean, shelves are organized again, and your janitor is a happier man!