Creative classroom management strategies from fellow teachers and our experts.
On the Case
We play “mystery trash.” I have a student silently choose an item (wrappers, an old crayon) and tell me what it is. We watch to see who picks up the mystery item. Whoever does gets the chance to be line leader or gets an eraser or other prize!
It Adds Up
Math! On the 23rd of the month, each person might find 23 things to pick up. On the second of the month, I might make a math problem such as 2 x 12, and ask my class to do the math and find that many items. —Karen H.
Rise and Shine
For morning work one day a week, it’s cleanup day. Every student takes everything out of his or her desk and wipes it down, inside and out. Then, they throw away the junk, put unnecessary items in backpacks, and place the “good stuff” back in. —Piper S.
I give each table a section of the room to keep neat. My job is my desk and the small group table, and the rest is theirs. We clean up in the five minutes before lunch and at the end of the day. —Cheryl S.
Stay in Tune
Pick a song, or a couple of songs. Have them clean for the length of it, like a race. —Gina K.
Smoke and Mirrors
Have a “magic job.” No one knows what it is except you. It could be picking up scraps off the floor or wiping desks or straightening the bookshelf. At the end, the kid who did the magic job gets a prize. The best part: You don’t even need to have a job in mind. You can give the prize to a hard worker or to the kid who just needs to “win” that day. —Deanne S.
Monopoly on Cleaning
I teach seventh grade. After each period, the class is expected to clean desks, wipe the board, sweep, and put back materials. The faster it gets done, the more class money they earn. I laminate Monopoly money — it’s good for free time, additional center time, or an activity the class loves, like a science lab. —Valerie A.
Scrub a Tub-Tub
On Pinterest, I found the idea of “tidy tubs.” I bought small trash cans and placed them on each table. Students throw scraps from projects into the cans. That way, there aren’t any scraps falling on the floor on the way to the garbage cans. —Kerri S.
Post pictures by each supply area or center showing how it should look when it’s cleaned up. Pictures provide clarity, so there are no gray areas. —Heather B.
Every afternoon we “scramble.” I give my kindergartners 30 seconds to clean as much as they can. If they get all or most of it done, we do a dance. —Heather G.
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