Bright Ideas for Clean-Up

It's that time again! I'm linking up with the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!

Has this ever happened to you? You're deep in a lesson, it's going great, kids are engaged, you're so excited you pick up a marker and start writing on the board only to realize you've grabbed a Sharpie! You barely stop your descent into cuss-word town and quickly grab a dry erase marker (because the lesson must go on of course!). At the end of the day you're looking at the permanent marker on your board and wondering if a) there's anyway to remove it and b) if there isn't is there some way you can incorporate it into a daily lesson so no one notices.
Well, even if this has never happened to you, chances are at some point one of your minions of Sharpie destruction darling students will at some point accidentally write with the wrong marker on a whiteboard. This is ok, because there is a simple trick to cleaning it up:
Just grab a dry erase marker - color doesn't matter - and trace over the permanent marker with it. then erase. Yep, that's it. Voila, it's gone!
(No trick photography was used in this tutorial.)

Simple right? Can you believe I was teaching for a whole year before I learned that?!

Ok, if you already knew that one, maybe this one is new to you:

This is one of my fabulous caddies! I've had this caddy for 5 years. The reason I've had it for 5 years is because a) it's fabulous and holds a whole table's worth of pencils, scissors, glue bottles, crayons and notebooks neatly, and b)I bought it at Walmart, it's now only available around BTS time (it's a shower caddy for all those youngsters heading off to college dorms) but it's hit or miss whether my nearest store will have them and in which colors. Therefore, these puppies have to last!
Unfortunately, the kids like to color on them. It doesn't matter how many times you tell them to color on paper, or how much paper you give them, eventually there will be crayon marks on them. It used to be that I couldn't figure out why all of my caddy coloring friends always ended up at yellow table each year (I rotate table groups frequently so you'd think all the caddies would have the same graffiti) but what I've since realized is that the crayon shows up much better on the yellow caddy than any of the darker colors. This encourages the kids to keep coloring, and makes the yellow caddy the graffiti center of our room.
Since I can't start the year with graffiti'd caddies, I have to get that crayon off somehow. I tried child labor with regular sponges with the green bristly side, but their weak little arms just can't scrub hard enough, sigh. Then I came across Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Now my child labor is much more effective!
Each Magic Eraser cleans 2-3 caddies. They also work great on getting crayon marks off tables, walls, chairs - basically any hard surface!

Finally, the Magic Scrap Game. If you haven't heard of this one, you've been missing out. Basically, when your room is a wreck - after an intense craft session, Valentine's party, indoor recess etc. - you tell the kids you're going to play the Magic Scrap Game. The rules are simple:

1. You secretly designate one item as the "magic scrap". Once that item is picked up/put away/thrown out, the game is over.
2. Kids may not ask if they've found the "magic scrap". They may not ask if they're getting close, and they may not ask the category of the "scrap". It might be a craft supply, piece of trash, coat, backpack - whatever needs to be cleaned up!
3. The game must be played quietly and quickly. If the noise gets out of control the game is over. If the scrap is not found in a set time limit, the game is over. This encourages the children to put things away in a timely fashion, unlike my own children who can turn cleaning their rooms into a 3 day affair.

Secret Teacher tip: Don't actually pick your "magic scrap" until most of the room is already clean - this ensures that it isn't one of the first things picked up, thus ending the game with the room still a wreck. Generally I pick a "scrap" that is by someone who is actually working hard at cleaning. Sometimes it's a friend who may need a lift that day, or who rarely gets rewarded for good behavior etc. The reward for winning can be as simple as a high five and the announcement that "Wow, Johnny is a great cleaner, he found the Magic Scrap! Thanks for working so hard!". Sometimes I'll give a sticker or stamp, but I generally try not to make the reward too big. You also shouldn't play this game too often - save it for the big clean-ups!

Want some more Bright Ideas? Check out these!

10 Rustle Up A Response!:

Lori Rosenberg said... Reply to comment

Definitely trying the marker tip! Thanks! I love magic erasers and cleaned all my bins with them. I must say, your yellow bin looks brand new! Great job!

Unknown said... Reply to comment

I have also washed my tubs and caddies in the dishwasher. The crayon wipes out pretty easily. Has made things so much easier!

Miss Squirrels said... Reply to comment

Where were you when my Littles were little!?!? I wonder if "magic scrap" will work on a 17, 13, and 10 year old??? It's worth a shot!
Great ideas!
Go Nutty with Me!

Jennifer @ Simply Kinder said... Reply to comment

Ok.. I put them in the dishwasher every year to see if I can get them clean.. then when the crayon does not come off I throw them away and buy new ones!!! I seriously did not think of this!

Thanks for the great idea!

Simply Kinder

Tiffani said... Reply to comment

Those magic erasers are the best! I am always amazed at how well they clean my containers

Kelly said... Reply to comment

Bummer, why didn't I think of the Magic Eraser? I had some old caddies that looked terrible so I washed them in the dishwasher...they looked worse so I threw them away. Next time....Magic Eraser!
I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

Sally said... Reply to comment

I LOVE Magic Erasers! I spend a lot of time with them getting the classroom ready in August!
Sally from Elementary Matters

Erika said... Reply to comment

Love the magic scrap game. I call it Mystery Clean Up in my room. The kids love it too and I always (well almost unless we run out of time) have a clean room at the end of the day.

Amanda Pauley said... Reply to comment

Great tips! Thank you. I love the Magic Scrap game. Definitely using that this year. :)

Mrs. Pauley’s Kindergarten

Unknown said... Reply to comment

Man!! I threw away tons of bins this year because they were filth! I should have read this and used magic eraser! :)