Heidi says: We were cutting a lot of papers for math the other day which, inevitably, left a blanket of confetti on the floor. It's those moment when I'd like to kiss the person that invented "secret scrap." I do it a little differently than Emily, so I'll let her chime in with her ideas below. In my class when we have a huge mess to clean in a hurry, I choose a bit of litter on the floor (as minuscule as possible) and announce that I've picked a "secret scrap." They immediately go crazy getting everything they can off the floor. The first few times we have a talk about what to do with things (like books) that obviously aren't garbage. If their little hands are starting to get full (and the floor is still dirty) I tell them that no one has found it and to dump their piles and keep looking. When the floor is clean or the scrap is found, I have them line up at the garbage so I can inspect their finds. I look at their piles until I find the person who found the right bit of litter. And if I sometimes don't really pick out an actual scrap and instead give the prize to someone who was working hard or could use a little happiness, well the kids don't know the difference!
Emily says: I do the routine in the same way except I don't want to look through the trash from the floor so I just tell them I'm watching them as they clean and I see who picks up the "secret scrap." I don't announce who picked it up until the floor is as clean as I want it. And, like Heidi, I often pick the person who worked the hardest to clean or who might need a pick-me-up.
Do you have any ideas for cleaning up the room?