This article is compliments of The Art of Education.
Teaching good studio habits is a huge part of TAB philosophy. Artists need to know how to clean up after themselves! In a choice-based classroom, many different stations are being cleaned up at once. More structured cleanup methods don’t always fit the bill.
I want to share some tips and tricks I have collected over the years that can help all teachers–not just those in a TAB classroom–make cleanup more collaborative, engaging, and efficient. If ideas like these pique your interest, make sure you check out AOE’s Managing the Art Room course. It’s all about the strategies that work best for your own management plan and your own classroom. These are some of the ideas that work best for me:
The Dirt Square
My floors are always littered with stuff. Tiny scraps of paper, dirt from shoes, pencil shavings, broken crayons, just to name a few. Last year, I decided to buy a few brooms and allow students who finished cleanup early to help sweep the floor. Instead of sweeping the dirt into a pile, they pushed it back and forth around the room!
Thinking quickly, I pointed to a colored square on the floor and said, “This is the dirt square. Your job is to get as much dirt in this square as possible before the end of cleanup. Then you can pick it up in the dust pan.” I demonstrated how to use the brooms to bring dirt from around the room to that square and The Dirt Square was born!
Not only does this teach students a valuable skill, it also gamifies the task. When you make any task a challenge or a game, it makes it more fun for kids and something they are more likely to remember every week when they come to class.
The Secret Supply
Another way to gamify cleanup is to implement The Secret Supply. The Secret Supply can be any supply that you have chosen and when it is put away correctly, the person who cleaned it up is the Secret Supply Finder. The Secret Supply Finder can receive a point in your classroom management system or be allowed to line up first.
In my classroom, it’s not so much the prize of being allowed to line up first, but the challenge of the game that gets kids excited.
Make sure when you explain the game you tell students, “You can’t ask what The Secret Supply is and you don’t have to tell me if you think you put it away. I am SECRETLY watching and at the end of cleanup, I will tell you exactly what The Secret Supply is and who found it. In fact, if you ask me questions about The Secret Supply, it magically changes to something new. “
The Secret Supply can be an eraser on the floor, a pencil in the marker bin, or my personal favorite, a piece of paper in the trash can instead of the recycling bin. Use The Secret Supply to point out areas of the classroom that could use a little extra love, and give kids hints if it’s a particularly tricky one.