Make sure you head over to check out this post on Adventures in Kindergarten! I am writing as a guest to Mary's blog today and I know you'll all help me in wishing her a relaxing vacation!
The start of this school year marks my 8th year teaching, but will only be my second year teaching Kindergarten. I made a switch last year after 6 years in 1st grade.
One memory I have from the first couple days of school last year helped me learn a very valuable lesson when it came to clean up time after developmental play centers.
We all have our way of getting the attention of 24 sweet kindergarten children--whether it be a song, a chant, the lights, a wind chime, etc. I tend to say in a sing-songy voice, "One, two, three, eyes on me!" and the children respond, "One, two, eyes on you!" Works every time!
The challenge occurred when all 24 of them actually started cleaning up. It was louder than play time, it took FORever and I was going crazy!! Something had to change.
I attempted putting a timer on the board and playing a song as a time limit, but the clean up was never done and there would always be 3 or 4 children that just sat down without helping at all. There was no motivation.
After discussing my struggles during a team planning session, another teacher shared with me the strategy of "The Special Item."
When all the children have stopped playing and I have their attention, I tell them that I am looking around the room for One Special Item. I don't tell them what it is or where it is. I dramatically scan the room at this point and then say, "Okay, go!" Whoever picks up this special item will get a prize when everyone is finished.
The prize can be anything you have on hand--a sticker, a jelly bean, the first one to go to recess, etc.
****Here is the catch**** There is NO TALKING!! If you talk and you pick up the item, there will be no prize. There is some serious practice of self-control here!
Teachers, stand back now and watch in awe. It's QUICK and it's QUIET!! Every single child races to pick up as many items as they can in hopes that it will be the one I've chosen. Children will clean up what they weren't even playing with!
Honest Confession: I don't even usually pick an item. Shhhh! Don't tell the kindergartners! I do watch everyone and I usually choose a child who is working hard. This can be a GREAT time to choose a child who needs some positive attention. When I announce the winner, we all clap and celebrate the great job we've all done cleaning up.
I hope you'll give this a try! It's a positive and beneficial "trick" to have in your back pocket!