Thursday, July 31, 2014

A great authentic song for cleaning up materials

The activity or project is over and it is time to clean up those materials...the trick is to get them cleaned up efficiently and quickly! Considering I have only 30 minutes per class and want to maximize that time, I want material clean up to take as little time as possible. However, getting little 5,6,7 year olds to do this (let alone my Third and Fourth Graders!) can be a challenge. But then, a few years ago, I found this song 'A guardar', an authentic song sung in many Spanish speaking countries, that is exactly for this purpose! Only about 30 seconds long, it transformed my transition time. Always cued up on my cd player (yes, I still use one! lol), all I have to say is 'Niñitos, ya es la hora para guardar cosas', hit the play button, and watch the magic.

 However, that didn't happen all at once. As with all of our routines, I followed a process from Responsive Classroom called Guided Discovery (see a great article about this here). First, as a class we talk about the importance of cleaning up, taking care of our materials, and being respectful of other teachers in the building by being on time to our next class. Then, we talk about the different materials we may need to clean up at the end of an activity (our activity pages, our folders, crayons, pencils, erasers, manipulatives, etc) and how and where they should go. Note: I have a classroom set of pouches (pencil bags) filled with crayons, pencils, erasers, glue sticks, etc which are used in all my classes; kids do not have their own set- that would impossible to store considering I have approximately 375 students!

Once we have talked about how and where things need to be put away (I even go so far as to talk about rolling the gluesticks down and putting the caps back on), I introduce the song. I challenge them to put away everything in that 30 seconds...can it be done? Yes! We talk about being focused while the song is playing- I ask them questions like 'When the song is playing, are we talking with our friend?', 'When the song is playing, do we continue to color, write, cut out things, etc?', 'When the song is playing, are we putting our crayons back in the pouch?' 'Do you come up and show me your activity when the clean up song is playing? (No), and so on. It's important to be clear about expectations!

Then, we practice...yup, I play the song and we practice putting things away. This helps them see what the process actually looks like, allows them to literally practice the routine, and gives them a sense of the timeframe. Note: I do not put any of the materials away that the kids have used. I believe in personal responsibility- I am not there to be their maid lol. However, while the song is playing, I am picking up materials that I have used during the lesson, or erasing the whiteboard. This is me modelling the routine, which is an important part of our classroom dynamic.

I cannot say how useful this song has been and considering its cultural authenticity, I love it even more! The kids sing along as the song is playing, which is just too cute. To hear the song, you can view this video on YouTube and the song can be purchased on ITunes. Look for 'A guardar' by Sari Cucien, Patatín Patatero.

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