TIP SHEET: MOVEMENT ACTIVITIES-Horizons For Homeless Children


Clean up time is a key transition time in a Playspace shift.  It is important to prepare children in advance for any transition as this will help make it run smoothly. You can use a variety of signals to tell children that ‘Clean Up Time’ is coming.  Giving them a warning of how much time is left in their play time helps them to emotionally prepare for the coming change.  Singing the song below as a sign of the transition to come is helpful for younger children.  For any transition time, it is helpful to structure it a bit or fill it with a routine of similar activities each week.  This will help the children anticipate the transition, feel calm and know what to expect.  It is also important to know your children and choose an activity that works well for them.  It is always helpful to recognize that you hold most of the responsibility. You can model and involve the children by saying ‘Where does this go?” (while you hand a block or car to them).  Also, let them how nice it will be to find the toys and materials when they come next time.

Here are some great cleanup activities to try:

Clean Up Song
Songs are a great way to transition into a new activity.   Here is a classic clean up song lyrics.  If you need help with the tune, check out You Tube or call your local Playspace Program staff.
Clean up, clean up.  Everybody, everywhere
Clean up, clean up.  Everybody do your share

Age Based Clean Up
Have your children pick up toys according to their age.  For example, a 4 year old would pick up and put away 4 toys.  This helps children that are older, and more developmentally ready, have more responsibility.

Sixty Second Scramble
If your group really gets energized around competitions, this is the cleanup activity for them!  Tell your children they have exactly 60 seconds to put away every toy in the room.  Let them know that after the 60 seconds there can be no more cleaning.  Tell them about bonus points for toys being put back in the correct place.  Then say, “ready, set, clean!” and let them go for exactly 60 seconds.  At the end make up your own point system and by the following week, they’ll be asking when clean up time is.  This works well with older groups of children.

Area Based Clean Up
Each week assign certain children to clean one of the areas of the Playspace.  For example, Jeal, Sophia and James clean up dramatic play area and Naisha and Sam clean up puzzles and games area.  It also works to have all the children make boats with the blocks and float them to you to put in the shelves.  In other words, incorporate ‘play’ into the cleanup activity. “Let’s put all the babies to bed and the food away in the kitchen.  Its night night time.” You can make a chart with names to put up in the Playspace to help illustrate which area each child will clean that week.  Read ‘Night Night Construction Site’  (or make it up if you don’t have that book) and turn it into ‘Night Night Playspace’.

Inspector Clean
Introduce the character of Inspector Clean to the children.  Inspector Clean is investigating Playspaces to see who has the cleanest.  He comes by each week to see how clean you make the space at the end and awards stickers for everyone’s good efforts.  At the end of the shift have a PAL or shelter staff member come in as Inspector Clean (dress up in a trench coat and hat) and inspect the Playspace and give out stickers.

It is wonderful to follow up the Clean Up Time with stories or songs. Let the children know that you appreciate their hard work.  Enjoy a relaxing time before it is time to say goodbye until next time.