Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Making Cleaning Fun

We all know that working in a classroom all day with so many students can leave the floor areas less than tidy by the end of the day. I used to tackle this problem with a lot of reminders about cleaning their areas, etc. Not anymore. Introducing....The Secret Piece game. I just take a quick look over the floors in my room, letting my eyes take in one specific piece of trash. Then all I have to do is sit back and announce, "I have a secret piece." The class spontaneously bursts into a cleaning frenzy grabbing anything and everything they can off of the floor and bringing it to me before putting it away and going for more trash (I use the term "trash" loosely, because "trash" in this case can mean anything that is out of place and on the floor....I've even had some students carry other students over to me as a joke....). One tip here, I never tell students if they have the secret piece. I just say things like, "Thank you, alright, O.K." and the like. I never stop the game until the classroom floor is clean. Afterward, I usually have students clean their desks and tell them I will announce who has found the secret piece after they are ready to go home. Once students are cleaned up and seated, I will announce the person who had the secret piece (I try not to mention what the secret piece was because it can sometimes cause an argument like, "I found that first!" Or "I found one of those too." It keeps it easier and makes it much more fun if I just announce the name of the person who found it and that is all.). After I announce the finder of the secret piece, I will reward that person with a small something (usually a piece of candy, special pencil, or even a visit to the prize box. Another option could be a special privilege if you do not want to have to spend any money. Maybe the student could spend one class period with their shoes off tomorrow, or use some special supplies you have...the sky's the limit.)

So, in closing, here are my tips to playing The Secret Piece game:
1. Locate a piece of "trash" ahead of time.
2. Have the students show you what they find before they throw it away or put it away.
2. Do not let the students know if someone has found the secret piece until the whole classroom floor has been cleaned to your satisfaction.
3. Once students are all cleaned up and seated, announce only the name of the person, but never what the secret piece was.
4. Let the secret piece finder have a small prize.

Another thing I do upon occasion is have two winners...the secret piece finder and the student who I think worked hardest or found the most trash or picked up the most pencil shavings. It just keeps things fresh and adds a twist now and then.

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