Welcome to Paula's Primary Classroom! This blog is where I share ideas for teaching and learning with families, friends and other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

3 astonishingly easy ways to engage your kids in clean up

Kids engaged in clean up?  Yeah, right!  No-one wants to stop playing to clean up at home or at school - they'd rather play all day.

True, most children would rather play than clean up, but it doesn't have to be an either / or situation - clean up can be playful!  Don't believe me?  After more than 25 years of working with young children, I've learned a trick or two or three, and today I'm going to share them with you!

3 astonishinly easy ways to engage your kids in clean up, from Paula's Primary Classroom

Clean up trick #1:  The Magic Trash
I learned this trick my first year teaching, when a colleague shared it with me.  When it's time for clean up, just announce that there is a piece of magic trash waiting to be cleaned up, and watch your children scramble to find it!  Sometimes I'd offer a prize - at my school it was golden tickets - but no prize is needed if you engage with the kids to make it fun.  Say things like, "No-one has found it yet!", "____ you were close a minute ago!", or "Keep looking!"  If you're excited and engaged, the children will be too.  Make a big deal out of the "winner" who found it, and everyone will want to be the one who finds the magic trash next time.

Clean up trick #2:  Cinderella's step-mother
Which popular princess starts out by doing a whole lot of clean up?  Cinderella, of course!  Give your children a reason to role play her character by turning yourself into the mean spirited step-mother!  I always put on a properly haughty voice, and announce, "You can't possibly go to the ball until all this is cleaned up!"  (Click on the link above to hear how ridiculously silly I can be!) This one works well with a group - I usually give each child a specific task, "You! Clean the shelf!", "Sweep the floor!", "Pick up the toys!", or whatever needs doing.  If you have child sized cleaning tools like brooms, dustpans, dusters, or baby wipes, they'll eagerly play along - and that of course is the whole secret, you've made clean up into a game and you're playing it with them.  Make sure that when the cleaning is done that your little Cinderella(s) get to do something fun - like go outside to play.

Clean up trick #3: The Pirate Captain
Argh, do your kids disdain princesses?  Well maybe they'll listen to the pirate captain instead!  Once again, I recommend talking and acting in character so the kids get into the role play and make this a fun game with you.  I always start this one by announcing that I'm a pirate captain, and I'm taking away all the "loot" or "treasure" from the floor.  I then stomp off and get a bag or a box to put my haul in.  This usually prompts the children to scurry around grabbing all the toys off the floor, but just in case, when I return with the box I point out a toy that I'm taking for treasure, and make a show of marching over to pick it up.  What kid can resist racing to get there first?  Continue the fun by pointing out more toys and attempting to collect them for your own treasure.

With this clean up game I have sometimes managed to collect a few toys that the children didn't clean up, or didn't get to quickly enough.  When that happens I do put those toys out of reach for a few weeks - even though this is a game, if the children don't clean up their toys, the consequence is losing them for a time.  Will I give them back?  Of course!  Will it be today?  Not on yer life, land lubber!

I'd love to hear how these clean up games work with your children - and if you have any ideas to share with me, please leave me a comment.  I'm always looking for new ways to make learning, playing, (and even cleaning up) more fun!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.