Clean-up can be one of the most dreaded parts of any art classroom, but there are strategies for making it manageable for students. Most elementary art class schedules have classes back-to-back, so perfecting clean-up is very important to allow for seamless transitions between classes.
(I have been following the same clean-up procedure for nine years. Remember, this is what works for my classroom and students.)
I recommend having pictures posted at the center of how it should look cleaned up. I do not have counter space in my current classroom, so I utilize the cabinets as centers. To keep the visuals consistent and straightforward, I post photographs of each shelf on the inside of the cabinet door. (Photographed on the top.) I model to students how to use the pictures and refer to them often. One year I even used Thinglink to digitalize the studio and make it interactive. I moved classrooms and want to get back to this now that I am in my permanent room. Consider these visuals as part of the visual menus for each center.
Review and Model
After the art is "away and safe" students regather on the rug area, this is the time to review clean-up. It is crucial never to assume that students will remember how to clean-up. I point out areas of the studio that need extra attention and remind students of their areas to clean-up. I may also highlight a studio norm for students to focus on during clean-up.
Now, WATCH, the students clean-up. It is essential to observe and redirect behaviors when needed. DO NOT help students clean. Students need to learn that THEY are responsible for the studio. If clean-up is not going well, stop the class and go back to instruction.
Back to the Rug
When clean-up is complete, have students revisit the rug, to review how they did. Sometimes my class will play a game by double-checking the classroom for anything out of place. I have them raise their hands if they see something to fix.
If I see a significant mess, I try my best to have the student responsible clean it up. It is imperative to keep students individually accountable. I try not to close centers because it will hurt class moral. I think that if one student is having an issue, then come to a solution with that one student. At this point, if students need to clean more, have them do so- if not- then share time can begin.
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