I did my clean up by table areas. I had a large room, 2 sinks...nice space
but i also had 45 students in one class and usually 32+ in most classes.
Students were seated by tables of 8.
To minimize movement one table a week was assigned clean-up especially if it
was paint or clay. 2 on sinks (brushes, water jugs, etc), 2 to collect work,
2 to clean tables, and 2 to pick up floor or assist in other areas of
cleanup. This might include counting tools (I usually recounted...elementary
math can be quite interesting).
Sometimes I organized clean-up by a person at each table being assigned a
task. It depended upon the project as to the formula for clean-up.
Basically there should not be more than 8 student in motion in the room area
at a time. There might be more motion at the table area but not across the
Any inappropriate conduct was met with missed recess and success was met with
Hands were not washed until clean-up was comeplete. We were fortunate in
that there were sinks in every pod. If we cleaned hands in the room...it was
relatively quick. Sometimes i handed out damp paper towels at the table.
Occassionally we were late...usually my fault since I get involved in the
projects too. I tried everything from egg timers to clock monitors. Believe
me I knew how to apologize and was most humble in the process. 99% of the
teachers were okay...never had any negative feedback about being late. Most
appreciated the extra minute to check something in the office.
To minimize confusion with water I cut plastic one gallon milk jugs
down...leave on the handle...cut out the front leaving about a 2 to 3 inch
wall. Fill only to 1" depth with water (any deeper and you get major
spillage) It's easy for the kids to handle, disposable after they become too
grungy, and keeps everyone but a few kids handling the water. I even have
some in my HS room...just a handy tote for water.
In elementary I used paper plates for palates. Sometimes 1 for every 2
students or 1 for each student. I distributed the paint. Clean-up was
easy...throw the plates away. Had minimal waste considering the guessing
game of how much paint to give them. Gave them just enough with the
understanding they could have more.
I kept a tray at each table with pencils, pens, markers, rulers, crayons, and
anything else needed on a regular basis. These were supplies that the kids
brought in at the beginning of the year. It was each table area to clean the
tray at the end of each class. I would roll a color di...if their table
color came up...the tray was in proper order they got a treat. I was strict
about the tray order...don't assume...clean your tray. It didn't take too
many missed treats to keep the trays in order. This was just for fun since I
feel that clean-up and care of materials is a part of the learning exercise.