How to Master Clean Up - Life.Church Leaders

How to Master Clean Up

by Leaders.Life Team

20 minutes into your Early Childhood experience, it’s time to Clean Up! Watch the video below and read on to get tips that will help your class transition from Play time to Prop Talk quickly and smoothly.

Watch This
Here’s your chance to watch Clean Up time in action. Observe interactions between kids and leaders as they transition from free play to small groups through Clean Up procedures. Kids ages 2 through Kindergarten are included, so no matter which Early Childhood room you serve in, there’s something for you in this video!


Want more tips and tricks for Clean Up time? Check out How to Transition from Play Time to Small Groups.

Read These Tips

  1. Grab attention. Before you get kids to clean up, you’ve got to get their attention. Try one of these methods to get the attention of every kid in the room.
    • Clap. Clap three times, and ask kids to copy you. If the whole group isn’t with you yet, say, “Good job!” for those who listened, and do it again. Keep it up until the whole room is copying.
    • Freeze. Ask everyone in the room to freeze and put their hands in the air like a tree (or stand like a letter X, or put their hands by their ears so they can hear you, etc.)
    • Point. Say, “Point to me if you can hear my voice.” If not everyone is with you yet, calmly go through a list of pointing directions like, “Point to the door if you can hear my voice,” or “Point to the TV if you can hear my voice.” Once you notice most kids are pointing, finish by saying “Point to me if you can hear my voice,” again.
  2. Give direction immediately. The attention of your room is a precious gift that won’t last long if you don’t use it!
    • Know what to say. Be prepared with a brief set of instructions you want to share before you grab your room’s attention. Here are a few options you can try:
      • “It’s Clean Up Time! Put away your toys and come sit at the TV with a leader!”
      • “Play time is all finished! Let’s see how fast we can put our toys away and find a leader to sit with!”
      • “Let’s start the Clean Up Song! Clean the room and find a leader to sit with before it’s over!”
    • Say it quickly. Reward kids for their attention by giving them something to follow through with immediately. Pausing to reprimand a couple of kids who aren’t getting it before you share instruction might lose the whole group’s hard-earned attention.
    • Use visual cues. Train kids to respond not just to what you say, but to what you show them. Great procedures that will keep your room moving along are flipping over the Play Time Picture Schedule Card and moving the star clip to the Clean Up card, using baby sign language for “all done,” or even pointing to your own ears as a cue to get kids to listen.
  3. Make it fun. Use strategies like these to make the Clean Up experience a fun challenge instead of just instructions to follow.
    • Play a game. Try funny games like everyone has to freeze until you start the Clean Up song, or everyone jumps up and down three times before they can get started.
    • Be silly. When you move the star, fly it around in the air or pretend like you’re going to clip it into place but pull it away to trick the kids, or even clip it onto your shirt or ear as a joke. Encourage giggles, and don’t let anyone start cleaning until it’s clipped onto the Clean Up Picture Schedule Card for real!
    • Sing as you clean. Don’t worry. You don’t have to sing alone—Mr. Music will lead the way! Encourage the kids to sing along, too!
  4. Finish strong. Empower kids to work through the transition themselves instead of relying on you!
    • Stand back. Don’t help too much. Ask your kids to show you where the toys go, and let them feel pride in how much they can do on their own as they tidy the room!
    • Help as needed. When kids struggle with putting on a lid, putting a shoe back on their foot, or trying to find a group to sit with, give them some gentle help and direction.
    • Give kids the time they need. If the room and the kids aren’t ready when the Clean Up song is over, continue cleaning and forming small groups before moving on. Kids will speed up over time and will be better focused for Prop Talk when you finish completely and consistently.
  5. Learn even more! Check out the training article How to Transition from Play Time to Small Groups here!

Think About This
Be consistent! It will take several weeks (at least) for your kids to learn the Clean Up procedure well. But when they do, Clean Up will be quick and easy almost every time!

Talk It Over
Now that you’ve read a few tips and watched a video, help the info stick! Talk over these questions with your Coach or a LifeKids staff member. Share what you’ve learned with other leaders in your room!

  1. What do you think is the main goal of Clean Up time?
  2. What strategy for gaining the whole room’s attention do you think fits you best?
  3. What’s the number one challenge you have, or you think you might have, when leading Clean Up?
  4. Which of the strategies above may help you to work through the challenges?