If you are an elementary teacher looking for strategies for how to keep your classroom clean and tidy, then you found the right place!
There is no tired quite like a teacher at the end of the school day. Your students have been dismissed and your contracted work day is about to end. You are looking forward to heading home because this is now YOUR time. But then you glance around your classroom and are overcome by the feeling that you can’t leave it that way.
There are pencils and scraps of papers on the floor. Kids have left books on their desks. There are glue sticks without their caps and caps without their markers scattered around the room. It’s not a terrible mess, but you can’t go home without cleaning up the room and preparing it for the next day.
What if I told you that you could quickly and easily have your room completely clean, organized and ready for the morning in a matter of minutes before your students left for the day?
It’s true. There is a very simple, fun and effective solution for your problem. You will be able to leave school on time. You’ll walk into a clean an organized classroom every morning and start each day feeling ready and positive. And the best part is that you don’t need to do it all yourself. Read about it below!
How do you Keep your Classroom Neat and Clean?
Keeping a classroom clean and tidy can feel impossible. However, one of the most useful procedures and routines I teach every year on the first day of school and continue to use every. single. day. (sometimes more than once a day) is something I made up. I call it “Find It and Fix It“. It’s my secret weapon for maintaining a Clutter-Free Classroom and is just about the best gosh, darn thing ever.
What is Find It and Fix It?
Find It and Fix It is a game where students help you tidy your classroom. It’s not really a game, but if you simply tell your students to clean the room, then they may not be so interested. If they think it is a game, on the other hand, then they will want to play along.
Picture a classroom at the end of a school day. While it may not be a complete disaster, there are surely things to tidy. On any given day, you probably see a pencil on the floor, a chair that is not straight, papers left on desks, a random crayon in the color pencil box, a stapler left out of place, books facing different directions on the shelf, or a goldfish cracker lying belly-up just waiting to be crushed by a pint-sized sneaker.
This “game” involves you picking one of the items that is out of place and not telling your students what it is. They scurry around the room picking up and putting away everything out of place that they know where it belongs. Once someone finds the item you selected, then you ring the bell, bring the class together, announce the winner, and give the winner the certificate from the Find It and Fix It resource.
This game is my best advice for how to keep your classroom clean and tidy.
What is Included in the Find It and Fix It Resource?
This Find It and Fix It resource includes the following:
- directions for how to play
- printable poster with game rules
- prize recommendations
- printable tracking sheet
- printable certificates for the winner
How to Implement Find It and Fix It in your Elementary Classroom
Below are directions for how to play Find It and Fix It.
1. Select and prep the printables you would like to use from the packet
This Find It and Fix It resource includes several printables to choose from. Select which ones work best for you and your students. Next, print out all of the printables you chose. Cut out the certificates using a paper cutter.
2. Decide if you are going to offer a prize
It wouldn’t be any fun without a prize. The prize is that the Find It and Fix It winner earns a certificate to take home and he or she gets to be the “helper of the day” on the following school day. That simply means they are your go-to kid for anything you may need a hand with that day such as passing out papers or taking a note to the office.
3. Explicitly teach students how to play
Explain the rules.
This resource includes a rules poster that you can post in your classroom or use to teach students how to play. The rules are very simple. Read them below!
- Do not talk.
- Do not run.
- No crawling under tables allowed.
- Do not move something unless you know for sure where it should be.
The last one is important because you’ll always get some kiddo who shuffles things to look busy. If a child is chatting, crawls or runs, he or she is ‘disqualified’ and will need to sit out the rest of the game.
Model how to play
Take the time to model how to and how not to play. This visual act helps students better understand the rules and expectations.
4. Pick the secret item
Look around the room and pick out the secret item, which can be any item in the classroom that is out of place.
5. Invite your students to play
After you pick the secret item, tell them to “find it and fix it.” At that point they will scurry around like little elves and perfect the imperfections of the day. The whole scene lasts only for about 2 minutes or less. It doesn’t end when the mystery item is found. It only ends when the room is looking perfect.
6. Use a signal to notify the students when the item has been found
When the secret item has been found, use some sort of signal to students that the game is over. I chose to ring the chimes in my classroom because that was a signal I used all day to come to the rug quickly and quietly. You could also have them go back to their seats to find out who won.
7. Fill out the certificate for the winner
As students are transitioning to the rug or a location of your choosing, quickly fill out the certificate, which is located in the Find It and Fix It resource.
8. Announce the winner
Have students stand behind their chairs or at their spots and give them “elimination clues” to reveal the winner.
Say things like…
- The winner is wearing shorts.
- The number of letters in the winner’s first name is an even number.
- Today’s winner has a sister.
As the year goes on, incorporate a lot of math practice by saying things like, “the number of letters in the winner’s last name is the sum of 4 + 3″ or the winner’s student number is less than the product of 2 and 6.” As they are eliminated, they sit down. Ultimately, only one friend is left standing.
9. Give the winner the certificate and prize (optional).
After the winner is announced, hand him or her the certificate. If you are choosing to include a prize as well, then this would be the time to give it to them or say what it is.
10. Document who the winner is
Record who the winner is on the printable tracking sheet included in this Find It and Fix It resource. Do not let your students see the tracking sheet. Here’s why…
The game can be (and should be) rigged. You’ll want it rigged in order to make it fair so everyone gets the chance to be the winner. You can rig it by choosing the winner before the game begins. During the game, you watch to see what he or she fixes. You will claim one of the things that he or she fixed was the “secret thing” you had been thinking about.
Put the date next to the student’s name on the tracking sheet so you will know which students have been the winner. When a column is filled, simply start again. Again, never let your students see the tracking sheet.
In closing, I promise your room will be spotless when the kids leave. Your prep for the next day will be so much easier. You will be able to go home and enjoy your personal time when your school day ends. This is the trick for how to keep your classroom clean and tidy!
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