Do you get the bad case of the hives every time you have to ring the bell for clean-up time?
I know that this transition time in the preschool classroom can be one of the most challenging parts of the preschool teachers day, but did you know that you can tame the chaos with just a few simple tips and tricks.
The first thing you need to remember about clean up time is that it begins with YOU! What do I mean by that?
It means that your classroom environment needs to be set up with children in mind. Your shelves need to have labels on them so that children know where to place items when it’s time to clean up. All toys need to have containers with labels of the items that go inside of each one. If there is no container then the shelf needs to have a clear picture of where that one item belongs.
At the beginning of the school year remember that less is more. Fewer things out on the shelves makes it easier for children to learn how to clean up.
Don’t have out your whole set of wooden blocks or it will be to overwhelming at the beginning of the school year when it’s time to put the block away. Gradually add items to centers as children become more proficient at the clean up process.
Now that your room is ready for all of your preschoolers to use and learn in, it’s time to think about what you want your clean-up time to look like.
How do you teach a preschoolers to clean up?
The key is to think about what clean up time looks like for you so that you can teach the children each of the steps in the clean up procedure. Knowing that you have a clear procedure of what is expected, it is time to teach children each of those steps and what it looks like. A good place to start introducing children to the concept of clean up time is during your morning meeting on the very first day of school. It’s never too early to start the process of what it should look like during clean-up time.
Teach the Clean Up Procedure- You could use a pocket chart visual for each of the steps
When adding new material for children to use, make sure that you introduce each of those items at your group meeting showing children how to use them and put them away. Once you have role modeled for them, choose some children to come up and practice the expectations of the new materials.
There will be times throughout the year that you will have to pull items from the shelves and remind them of their use or switch said item for something new that has been role modeled at a group meeting or small group setting.
Five tricks to get children to clean-up
Give a 5 Minute Warning- I like to walk around and give children a five minute warning. This allows children the time to wrap up what they are working on.
Take pictures of their creations- (turn pictures into books that can be found around the classroom). After the bell rings take time to walk around and take pictures of children’s work. This helps children feel like their hard work has been validated and they are more willing to clean up when the bell rings. During prep time print pictures and turn those pictures into center books. Children will use the pictures that were taken in the block center to try and reconstruct one of their past structures. Also children will be drawn to the classroom book of writing projects where they can practice and improve on their skill. Encourage all children to come to centers so they too can have their picture taken.
Clean Up Song for transition time- Clean up songs are a fun way to get the whole group involved together cleaning up as they sing and clean together.
Make a Game of It- When you have hesitant cleaner uppers make a game out of cleaning up and pretty soon you will have others in there helping. Not only that but the child that was hesitant will want to participate in the clean up game. I say that is a win-win for all.
How do I keep my preschool class clean?
Remember that you are their first role model in teaching preschoolers to clean up. When you have a well organized classroom that you take pride in, children are always there to rise to the occasion and take care of their classroom because you have shown them and taught them to care for their belongings, to care for one another and that they belong to the classroom community.
Why is clean up time important?
It is a great way to teach preschool children about responsibility and shows them the importance of helping others. It is important for children to understand that it might not be their mess, but helping others is the right thing to do and that their friends appreciate teamwork. When children learn to help one another it forms a dynamic classroom community where every child feels like a valuable member of their community. I mean isn’t that what every teacher strives to have in their classroom?
Clean Up Activities for Preschoolers
There are a lot of clean up activities for preschoolers that adults don’t have to do. Like cleaning up after themselves at the sensory table. Children can also be responsible for cleaning up their own paint items that they used at the easel so that they can be ready for the next child.
Clean Up Time Preschool
No hives here with these tried and true clean-up tips and tricks you will have a smooth sailing transition that will leave everyone happy.
I'm Tami Sanders creator of Learning and Teaching with Preschoolers, a blog to help teachers create magical moments for the young.