Do you enlist the help of your students in the end of year clean up? Here are some ways you can have preschool children help you with end of year clean up.
End of Year Clean Up for Kids: Use the Sensory Table for Washing
One way I do this is to have the kids wash some of the classroom materials in the sensory table.
Classroom materials that children can wash in the sensory table:
- wash dishes and other items from the house center
- math manipulatives
- plastic animals from the block center
- letter manipulatives
- anything washable from the science center
For example, children can wash the dishes from the housekeeping center in the sensory table. I wait until the last few days of school and only put a few dishes at a time in the sensory table so the kids can still play with some in the house area.
They like to wash them over and over and over again, because to them, it’s just another fun sensory table activity. Although you can’t tell in the picture, the children are washing the dishes with paper towels because it’s what we had available, however sponges would work much better.
Be careful about washing the plastic play food because many of them have an air hole where water can get inside the play food and mold!
End of Year Clean Up for Kids: Use a Baby Wipe
Have children clean tables, chairs, shelves, and other classroom materials with a baby wipe. I choose to use baby wipes because they are safe for kids. Do not use disinfectant wipes because they contain chemicals that can irritate eyes, skin, and respiratory systems. The label also says “keep out of reach of children”.
What to have children clean with a baby wipe:
- center “toys”/ center materials
Another option would be to mix Castile soap in water and dip a washcloth in the soapy water to clean classroom items. Castile soap is used for baby’s skin, so it’s safe.
End of Year Clean Up for Kids: Organizing
Children can help organize the classroom by:
- checking puzzles for missing pieces & organizing puzzle pieces
- checking markers & dry erase markers for ones that are dried out
- cleaning dry erase lap boards and other write & wipe materials
- looking for out-of-place center materials and organizing them
Tips for Teachers
A few end of year tips for teachers:
- Clean children’s scissors by putting them in a dishwasher
- Any small plastic math manipulatives (such as counting bears, linking cubes, etc.) can be placed in a mesh bag. Then fill a bucket with water and a small amount of bleach and drop the mesh bag in the bucket. (Keep it away from children!) After soaking in the bucket, hang the mesh bag outside on a fence to dry.
- If your whiteboards are hard to clean, spray them with WD-40 (but not with children around)
End of Year Tip: Calm the Children’s Anxiety
The end of year can be confusing and upsetting to many preschool children. This is their first experience with school ever, and many don’t fully understand what’s taking place. They may have siblings who talk about being happy that school is going to be over soon.
For most of these young children, it is the first time they’ve been in a school setting, spending time away from parents and with other people. They get attached to us and we to them. They get attached to their classmates. They may have never had to deal with leaving people they love before.
It’s difficult to know whether it’s best to prepare the children for the end of the year or to keep going like nothing is different, and I kind of meet in the middle.
There is so much to be done at the end of the year, and I try my best not to “tear down” the classroom while the kids are still in school. I try to work on behind the scenes things as much as possible until the kids are gone, because it’s difficult for them to understand the changes in the room.
This month, for several days I had been showing the children how many days we have left and how many days we will be out for the summer, and talking about going to Kindergarten when they come back in August. They hadn’t said much about it, until one day I noticed my little class cowboy looking at me with a “deer caught in the headlights” expression on his face. He looked like he wanted to cry and he said, “Ms. Cox, I’m staring at you.” I realized that in that moment, it had “clicked”. He finally realized we would be leaving each other, school would end, and we would go our separate ways. Even though most of these kids will be together next year in Kindergarten, they will have a new teacher and new friends, and we will never again be the same group. I was so sad for him and us at that moment, so I decided to stop mentioning the “end of the year” for the rest of the year.