SKILLS: Children practice fine motor skills while making their classroom more safe.
- cardboard boxes
- paper bags
- clear contact paper
- magazines with pictures of the items to be stored (plastic bottles, toy cars, for example)
- crayons, colored pencils, markers colored paper
IN ADVANCE: Collect large boxes and paper bags you can use to tidy up the classroom and store items. Make space on shelves or in the classroom for the bins.
1 Discuss the consequences of having a messy classroom. Ask children what would happen if toys or trash were left where they could cause people to trip. Have any of the children ever hurt themselves tripping over toys?
2 Show children the boxes and bags and ask how they could be used to make the room safer. Designate which box you would like in which part of the room, and which bags you would like to use for trash and recycling.
3 Invite children to decorate the storage boxes with pictures they've cut from magazines, their own drawings, or collages made from scraps of construction paper and other art materials. Print word labels under the pictures and drawings to help children identify where to put toys during cleanup. Boxes or bags for recycling might be labeled with pictures of plastic bottles for the plastics container, and pictures of paper for paper recycling.
4 Supply glue sticks children can use to adhere their pictures to the boxes and bags. Once the glue dries, cover the entire outside of the box with clear contact paper to seal in the drawings and pictures.
5 When decorating trash and paper bags, have children draw directly onto a bag. Each child can decorate a bag, so you will have a pile to use and discard over time.
6 Once boxes and bags are ready, hold a practice cleanup. After free play, stop children where they are and ask them to identify obstacles that could be dangerous and cause them to trip or hurt themselves. Engage children in a discussion about how these situations can be prevented. Then, as a group, place items in the appropriate newly decorated boxes and bags to make the classroom environment safe.
For younger children: Place several items of different sizes on the classroom floor. Then give one child three different size boxes or bags. Invite the child to decide which object would best fit into each box or bag. Continue the activity until each child in the group has had an opportunity to participate.
For older children: If possible, visit a recycling center with children, so that they can see firsthand how trash can be compacted, stored, or turned into other useful objects.
Ask children to count the number of items they place in a box or bag. After counting how many items fit in one box or bag, allow children to guess how many items will fit in the next box or bag, considering its size as well as the shape and size of the items to be placed inside.
Clean Up With the Cat! by Dr. Seuss
Cleanup Day! by Eleanor Fremont
How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? by Jane Yolen
Pigsty by Mark Teague