Another variation on getting the children to clean up, pretending to be vacuum cleaners: I put a "spell" on the room.
"Dinner will be franks and wieners, make these children vacuum cleaners! Poof!!!"
The kids will ask me to put the spell on them, and they hurry to get things cleaned up.
If your classroom is getting out of hand and you want to pull out your hair -- have everyone put things away and do a fun short game or new story. This helps you and the children. It seems like there is turmoil in a classroom when kids are bored, so make it fun!
To encourage the children to help clean up, instead of singing a song, I ask them if they have strong muscles. Of course, most of them insist that they do. They then pick up all the blocks and show me how strong their muscles are getting. I also ask them to give me 5 after they are done picking up something. This seems to help keep them motivated to clean up.
For a faster clean up time I put a music tape in and the children have to have their center they were playing in cleaned up and find a shape to sit on over at the circle before the song ends. Works Great!!
Clean up times can be frustrating! Try this fun tip: Ask children to turn themselves into vacuum cleaners! Put out your arms and make vacuum cleaner sound effects while the hose (your arms) pick up all the toys, paper or anything else you need picked up! The children forget they are cleaning!
Cleanup time works really well for us when we turn on a piece of music and try to finish clean up and be sitting by the end of the music. You can change it each month or use the same one all year. I used A Spoon Full of Sugar from Mary Poppins.
I had problems with my 3year old class at clean-up time. I made up a song to encourage all of my children. I sang " who is going to pick up blocks, pick up blocks, pick up blocks, who is going to pick up blocks, and be a classroom helper?" and repeat with child's name " Sally is picking up blocks, and repeat above. It is a simple song and it really works.
I find singing songs immediately quiets the room down. Asking children to do SPECIFIC jobs rather then the general "clean up" is helpful as well. Maybe making some of the children "chair helpers", block helpers, and so on.
Before you start your Circle Time, say this poem with the children. (It will prepare them to listen.)
Wiggle your fingers, (wiggle fingers) Wiggle your toes, (wiggle toes) Wiggle your ears, (move earlobes back n' forth) Wiggle your nose, (wiggle nose w/ fingers) Now that we have had our fill, It is time to sit still (fold hands neatly in your lap).
One way to teach children to count and to get their attention is to tell the children that when you start counting 1-2-3 that means that it is time for all the children to come to the table and sit quietly for the next activity. I encourage the children to count with me. Once we have used 1-2-3 and the children have learned it then I instruct the children that we will now be counting 4-5-6 and then 7-8-9 etc. By the end of the year the children have learned to count and it really does get their attention.
Clean Up Freeze...
Play a song as children clean up from an activity of play time. Throughout the song, stop the music and have everyone freeze. Restart the music to get the little ones moving again. Works really well.
To keep toddlers busy and get a clean room, give each toddler a washcloth. then squirt small amounts of shaving cream around the room (on the fridge, on the table, on a shelf, on the wall, etc. ) the toddlers will love wiping the shaving cream and cleaning the items at the same time. they LOVE it.
Pick up time has never been easier in our classroom. The signal we now use is a John Phillip Sousa March. When the kids hear the music start they know it is time to pick up. The added incentive is when pick up is done we line up on a designated line and have the pick-up parade. We march and do other movements as well. Some favorite have been walking on the balance board, jumping over bricks, walking like various animals, etc.. Pick-up time is quicker and smoother and we also get to work on some of those gross motor skills each day. It has also helped to mark the path the parade will be taking with tape arrows on the floor so the line leader can lead the parade more easily and independently.
Clean up time can be hard-I found doing the following makes it easier-tell the children you are going to play a game, this gets them really excited, then tell them we are going to play house, who wants to be my vacuum cleaner? then tell those who raise their hands or say me, "Then I want all my vacuum cleaners to pick up anything that should be thrown away and put it in the trash, then "who wants to be my maids" then those who want to be the maids tell them to pick up any toys and put them away-this is great fun and it not only teaches them to pick up but also uses their imaginations as well.
I work with 4 yr olds and when it is time for us to clean up an move onto a different activity I put on our clean up song. We use Rusted Root's Send me on my way. They love it. The song is up beat so they get some wiggles out while cleaning and dancing. They hear the song and without telling them to clean up over and over they know what time it is and begin to clean. I let them know what area they are to be in when the song ends. If there is extra time at the end of the song we dance, dance, dance.
When it's clean up time, our "special person" of the day, turns off the lights. We then sing a little CLEAN UP SONG. If it looks as though the children are having a hard time beginning to clean...I say freeze. Everyone freezes in place, and we look around to see what we are going to pick up. The teachers always clean up just as the children do. I think modeling is one of the best forms of teaching.
To make clean up time fun for the kids and a lot easier on you, here is a fun way to do this. Make a traffic light out of cardboard, you could either paint red, yellow, and green circles or you can cut them out of construction paper. This can stick on the wall during play time. The green circle can be attached to the traffic light during play time. When it is almost time to clean up, the teacher can put the yellow circle up. When the children see the yellow circle they will know that play time is almost over. When it is time for the classroom to be cleaned the red circle will up. The kids will know that they should start cleaning up.
When it's time to clean up, I put on some 'working music' as each child cleans their area. If it seems to be a massive job I will call on individual children and assign a specific task ex. Holly will you hang up all the costumes, Greg can you please put away the dishes, Tim will you help the blocks find their home... If the children still seem too distracted then I become the 'Inspector' with my magnifying glass... They love this one and will hustle to keep the inspector from finding anything out of place...