Magic Scrap: Classroom Trick

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Go from this:

To this:

In just 5 minutes!  

I wish I could say I invented this smart little game.  And sometimes I keep myself up at night, wracked with guilt over having made my students think they were playing a fun, competitive game, when in reality, they were cleaning the classroom.  Actually, let's be real. There's no guilt, here.  

Still, magic Scrap has got to be the single most underhanded, sneaky teacher game out there.  

I say that it's good to teach kids to take pride in their surroundings by keeping their classroom clean.  Kids say that they like games and prizes.  We both win.  

Magic Scrap is fun and easy and kids LOVE it.

Magic Scrap

Directions:  Simply choose something in the classroom that needs to be straightened, picked up, put away, or thrown away.  Examples include, a crumpled piece of paper, a disheveled bookshelf, the chalkboard eraser on the ground, chairs needing pushed in, etc.  Write it on a piece of paper, or mentally stow it away.

Tell the students you have chosen a "magic scrap" or single item in the classroom that needs to be picked up, put away, or straightened.  Tell them that need to try to find this magic scrap and they have 5 minutes to do so--WITHOUT TALKING.  Tell them that when the 5 minutes are up, you will ask them, "Who picked up __________?"  The person who did will win the Magic Scrap game and get a ________.  (You need to choose a prize for the kids...a small piece of candy, a sticker, something from the prize bucket, points, a ticket, 15 minutes of computer time....make it work for you and the systems you already have set in your classroom).  

Make sure to tell the students that this is a quiet activity.  You will inevitably get kids who wave everything in front of your face, fearing that you will not have seen something they have picked up.  Assure the students that you will make sure the person who finds the magic scrap will get due credit.  You may even want to tell students that they will be disqualified if they come up and show you what they have picked up before the timer goes off.  And don't worry about kids remembering what they have picked up....they always do.  It makes you wonder about why they can't remember their homework. :o)

Set the timer for 5 minutes.

Push start and tell students to, "GO!"  

They work at getting the classroom put back together; the way the classroom looked that morning.  

Seriously.  They are working and cleaning the classroom and having a boat-load of fun.  Too good to be true, almost--right?  

At the end of the 5 minutes, ask, "Who put away/threw away, straightened _______________?"  Then award the prize.  If you have a large classroom, or it's unusually pig-styish that day, or if you want to give the kids extra motivation, pick more than one magic scrap. 

Then, seconds later the bell rings, and the classroom looks neat and tidy!  And you, the teacher, can begin preparing meaningful learning opportunities for the next day of class without having to tidy up the classroom first.

By the way, this works wonders in the home classroom as well.  :o)

What tips and tricks work for YOU in your classroom?