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October 24, 2016

Everybody Clean-Up! Tips for Keeping the Classroom Clean

Written By: Brandi Jordan
Originally Published On: December 13, 2011

Classroom Clean-Up Ideas -

Are classroom messes making you miserable?  Get students in on the act and straighten your classroom in no time at all.  The ideas below are teacher-tested with excellent cleaning results!

Classroom Clean-Up Ideas

Magic Helpers

Linda, who teaches 1st Grade in Pacific, MO, adds a bit of magic to her clean-up routine.  “I found that my little ones will be more willing to help clean up our classroom if we have some fun with it,” she explains.  “I tell them that it is time to ‘call in the elves’ to help with the cleanup. Of course, the elves only come out and help with my students, so I turn my back and count to 30 (or more, depending on how messy the room is…) and when I turn around the kids are in their seats, the room is spotless, and the elves have magically disappeared! They love the idea that only they can get the elves to come out and help, and it works every time ! They even beg to “call in the elves” when it looks like the room needs tidying. This has never failed to get the class motivated for some cleanup.”


Mystery Trash

Keep your floors clean with this idea by Sarah, who teaches 3rd grade, in Kentucky.  “I always had problems keeping my floor clean throughout the day and by the end of the day it was always messy. In order to get the students motivated to clean up the floor, I pick a mystery piece of trash. Sometimes I plant it in a place that is hard to find, or I pick something that is obvious. As soon as I announce that there is a mystery piece, the students race to pick up as much trash as they can find. If they find the mystery piece, they get a piece of candy. They are happy and I am happy because my floor is spotless!”


Stuck on You

Get students stuck on cleaning with this inexpensive and fun idea by Laurie, a 2nd Grade teacher, from Shannock, Rhode Island.  “Clean up after messy cutting projects or even at the end of the day can go quicker when you give each child a masking tape bracelet. The children delight in cleaning up when picking up scraps with their bracelets!”

What are some of your favorite ways to motivate students to help you clean the classroom?  Share them with us below!

Ideas to Make Classroom Clean-up Easier ~
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  • Michelle
    May 28, 2012

    I love the idea of making cleaning up a “game” time, especially with the mystery trash idea. As a new teacher to 4th graders I am always looking for different ideas to help maintain the cleanliness of the classroom. About once a month (depending on the quantity of wipes I have) I give each student 2 Clorox wipes to clean all the dirt and germs from their desktop. They really enjoy seeing how dirty their wipe is after cleaning it off the first time and I really enjoy seeing all those germs washed away 🙂

  • Tracy
    February 5, 2012

    I teach 4th grade and we do something similar to Mystery Trash but we call it Mystery Item. I choose one or two items that might need picked up or put away. The kids go crazy cleaning, stacking chairs, putting books away, etc. once I feel like the room is clean, I count down from 5 and they all head to their desks. You can hear a pin drop as they wait for me to announce what the Mystery Item was for the day! Very motivating and gets the classroom clean!

  • terri
    December 28, 2011

    love the idea about the masking tape bracelets… I teach kinder and I could give one student at each table a bracelet.

  • Diana Stephens
    December 14, 2011

    For older students, I gauge the amount of stuff on the floor, and post myself and the trash can at the door. Everyone has to “turn in” three, four, or more pieces of trash to my can before they can leave. The floor gets picked up in a hurry.

  • Brian
    December 13, 2011

    What clever ideas! I especially like the elves (although got to be careful turning your back on kiddos!) and the Mystery Trash!

  • Marjorie Sample
    December 13, 2011

    LOVE the mystery trash idea!!

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