Friday, June 3, 2016

Clean-up Fun!

Some of you are done... to you, I am wishing you relaxation.  I hope you are reading this and saying, "Oh you, that was so last week."  For some of you, you are in your final days.  I have two more days and I'm done with students. And for another hand full of you, year round schoolers, a different country, or simply go for another week... This might be very valuable to you.  If not, pin it and save it for next year.

In the final days of school get your students to help you with the massive job you have of organizing and cleaning the most messy room in the school.  First thing... Make a big old check-list...

Start this list weeks before the end of school.  I start on a small sheet of paper and then make it large so the students can see.  We check it off together or sometimes I have the kids do the checking off for me.  Students can see the many tasks needed to be done and feel accomplished when we check them off.  The example above is just one list... and really most things only make sense for me and the kids.

For all grade-levels I give them one task or one task per table.  I never ask them to work over a half hour of their last art period.  I think it's important to ask them to be part of clean up, but I also want to celebrate the end of art class in some way as well. 

I chose to give the kindergarten students a chance to clean the tables.  We used shaving cream to play for the first 15 minutes of class.  I know you can't hear a picture... but imagine squealing, laughter, and excitement.  K's love to play in shaving cream.  I love to watch the different approaches people take to a task like this.  Some hands move slow, some crazy fast, there is hitting of the tables and scratching.  I love to watch human behavior and this is 10 minutes to really sit back and observe.  I kept everyone on time by using my visual timer projected on the whiteboard.  This was really helpful for all of us (as always).

Side note: Note that the carpet is rolled up... that is key to keeping it from getting really, really wet :) 

Then the kids are given a rag and some water.  I show them to ring out the rag well, wipe for a while, rinse and repeat. They did an amazing job... on the edges of the table.  These little buggers arms were too short to reach into the middle of the tables.  There was a streak of grime in the middle of every table. 


I now set the tables on their side. This created a bit of an easel situation.  The kids did a great job.  They were able to clean the middle and really concentrated on the top.  This time, when they were wiped clean, it left the grime on the bottom.

So... I flipped the tables and let a third section of K's play.  By this time, the tables are getting really clean.  With every class, I would stop them with about 20 minutes left of class and they were treated to some Shaun and Sheep. GREAT claymation, age appropriate and no words... the kids love it! 

And yes, that is shaving cream in some of the kids hair... it wipes out... it's all good.

As they are laughing at all the funny things those farm animals are doing on the show, I'm mopping up the water from their clean up.  Cleaning the tables doubles to clean the floor.

If you think the K's had fun with shaving cream... you should have seen the 4th graders. I had these kids drag out a chair each.  They were given some time to play with the cream on the chair, some scrubbers, rags, and paper towels to complete their job.  I had this super quiet boy come up to me and in such a quiet voice... he simply said, thanks. It melted my heart.

I still had a couple more chairs and my demonstration table to clean so I had one more section of k's help me out with this task. I put two at a chair and a little less shaving cream and the room was not nearly as wet as it  was outside for the 4th graders. 

Overall the kids thought they got to play... play in a way that they don't often get to do.  I have a good smelling, clean room.  Just in time for summer camps to come and get it messy again, but that's the role of the art room.


  1. I agree with you. It is very important children learn to cleanliness. Here in Greece it is very difficult to implement because the parents do not believe that is correct their children objects to clean the school.

    1. There might be some who believe that here too. In some areas (China, Japan...) I have heard that students are the primary cleaning of the space. They take greater pride when they have to clean up a space.