Monday, 15 September 2014

Top tips for tidy up time

I recently chatted to some folk on twitter about tidy up time. It happened because at the beginning of #kinderchat everyone seemed to be commenting on how poor their children were at tidying up, especially at the beginning of the year.

Tidy up time is bound to be a difficult time considering you've set up a classroom over the summer which is sensibly laid out (to you) but the children don't know where things belong.  It is worth considering whether or not things are laid out in 'logical' systems to aid children's current understanding or whether or not they need introducing via a whole or small group time.  We have key worker group times in new area where we introduce the area, where things go and how to play within.  This helps children take ownership at tidy up time and self correct/correct peers.

The tidy up experience itself is a valuable time which can often be over looked.  How many times have you just tidied an area to save time?  The experience itself is perfect for encouraging social skills, developing communication, developing gross and fine motor control as well as their mathematical understanding of shape, space and measure.

"What colour is this? Can you find the RED top?"

"Is this piece 'straight' or 'curved'?"
Label each basic and try to sort blocks and bricks by colour or other obvious property.

Use shelve stencils or 'fablon' to show where objects belong. Consider how you arrange objects, grouping by size, shape or colour.

Add numbers to chairs to show where they belong and how many there ought to be.

Other ideas:

Add numbers to your pencil pots so children know how many pencils belong.
Add colour spots to pencil pots to show which colours belong.
Display photos of children tidying up around the setting to 'model'.
Add pictures to the back of shelves in the water area (this keeps them dry and visible).
Have 'tidy monitors' with older children who 'police' areas to check people are tidying.
Reward good tidyers with stickers or if thats not your thing, a clap or verbal praise.
Tidy pairs where an older child shows younger children how to tidy.
Pictures of an area well presented and tidy enlarged and on display.
Number objects from left to right on a shelf so children understand order (can also use size, biggest to smallest).

We begin our tidy up time by ringing the bells and asking he children to "show me your fingers." We then sing the following song:

Wiggle your fingers
Wiggle your fingers
Wiggle your fingers and touch your (child chooses a body part),

Then we tidy together, but without music.  Music can be a distraction and with our children's limited attention and listening skills it is easier to tidy without than with.

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