Today, Minds in Bloom is welcoming back Steph from Forever in Fifth Grade. She’s sharing a fun activity that you can do at the end of every day to make sure your room gets cleaned up. Your students will love it!
I’m so excited to be guest blogging for a second time and talking about one of my favorite things…cleaning!
Back when I was a teenager, my mom would never have believed it if you had told her I would grow up to be a neat freak. My room was forever a disaster area with piles of clean clothes, piles of dirty clothes, books, papers, and even the occasional leftover food item turned science experiment. So, all you parents of teenage slobs out there…there is hope for your teenager yet!On the very first day of school, I begin instilling in my students an appreciation for the neat and organized wonder that is our classroom. I ask them if they like the way the classroom looks right now, and tell them how long I worked to get it looking like this. Then I explain that it is now up to all of us to work together and maintain this neat and orderly environment. At the end of the day I announce, “It’s time for Mystery Trash!” I walk around and write down three things that need to be picked up or straightened. Of course, you have to be sneaky about it and not write it down right after you look at it. That would be too easy. One or two of the items will be something like a piece of paper or a pencil on the floor, but the third item must be a stumper that my students would probably never notice, like this…
That I Survived book is crooked on the book rack! We can’t have that!
After I write down the three things, I tell my students that if they find and fix or pick up one of them, they get a piece of gum. I have to make sure they understand there is no running, pushing, etc. or I honestly think that my students looking for garbage would end up looking like shoppers at Wal-Mart on Black Friday!
I say, “Go!” and they’re off! Kids are cleaning and straightening like none of their parents would ever believe!
While they are cleaning, I discreetly keep my eye on the Mystery Trash items, so I see who has picked it up or straightened it. Sometimes I miss it and just have to rely on their honesty about who truly did it. That first day of school, they never get all three of my items, but that’s okay. I send everyone back to their seats and announce the first couple of items and hand out the gum. Then I tell them the one they missed. I love the look on their faces when I tell them what the last one was. Their eyes get wide and their expressions are like…”What?! Are you kidding?!” They soon learn: No, I’m not kidding.
Seriously? You think we are going to go home and leave this keyboard like this? Oh no! It needs to be pulled forward and perfectly straight.
You should see the kids cleaning and straightening on the second day of school. It’s a beautiful sight!
Sometimes we don’t really have time for Mystery Trash. Maybe we need to line up for lunch or a special class and have just an extra minute. I’ll tell the kids, “When I call your group, find three things to clean up or straighten and then get in line.” This helps to keep the classroom looking neat throughout the day. And at least once a month we have a wet wipe day. When the kids come up to my desk in the morning to check in, I hand them a wet wipe. They know this means to go clean something!
I hope these tips help you get your classroom in tip top shape this year!
I started my career teaching fifth graders, and here I am 25 years later still at it! I knew right away that I had lucked out and been hired to teach the perfect age. Fifth graders are still young enough to love their teacher and want to please you, and they are old enough to give you some peace and quiet when you need it! I said long ago that I would retire as that teacher who taught fifth grade forever. I am currently teaching reading and writing along with another of my favorite things, early American history in Social Studies. Now that my own two kids are all grown up, I get to spend more time doing something I truly enjoy, creating classroom materials and always with my sweet labradoodle Emmitt laying at my feet!