One of the procedures and routines I teach every year on the first day of school and continue to use every. single. day. (sometimes more than once a day) is something I made up and call, Find It & Fix It. It's my secret to maintaining a Clutter-Free Classroom and is just about the best gosh, darn thing ever.

It's sort of a game.

But, not really.
If kids think it is a game they will want to play along.  If you simply tell them to clean the room they may not be so interested. 
Here's how it works:
Picture a classroom at the end of a school day.  While it may not be a complete disaster, there are surely things out of place.  I'm talking about things like a pencil on the floor, a pillow that is not straight, papers left on desks, a random crayon in the colored pencil box, a stapler left out of place (usually by me), books that are not facing the same direction, a goldfish cracker lying belly up just waiting to be crushed by a pint-sized Croc, and other nit-picky things.
You pick one of those things and secretly put it into your brain.  Then you tell the kids to "Find it / Fix It."  At that point they scurry around like little elves and perfect the imperfections of the day.  The whole scene lasts about 1-2 minutes.  It doesn't end when the mystery item is found, but rather when the room is perfect.
The rules are simple: No talking, no running, no crawling under tables and no moving something unless you know for sure where it needs to go.  The last one is important because you'll always get some kiddo who shuffles things to look busy.  If a child talks, crawls or runs they are 'disqualified' and must sit down.
After everything is made to look spotless and every last thing is in it's place, I tell them to return to their seats to find out who won.  I have them stand behind their chairs and will give them elimination clues to reveal the "winner."  I say things like, "the winner is wearing shorts" or "the number of letters in the winner's first name is an even number."  As the year goes on I incorporate a lot of math practice by saying "the number of letters in the winner's last name is the sum of 4 + 3" and things like that.  As they are eliminated they sit down until only one friend is left standing.
It wouldn't be any fun without a "prize."  The prize is that the Find it Fix it winner earns a certificate to take home and gets to be the "helper of the day" on the following school day.  That simply means they mail the folders and bring any messages I have up to the office.
Want to know a secret?  Come closer and I'll whisper it.
It's usually rigged....shhhh!
I try to make it fair so that everyone gets a chance to be the helper.  I will often pick the winner before they start playing and will watch to see what he/she fixes and claim that was the "secret thing."  I then put the date next to their name on tracking sheet {see below} so I know that the student has had a chance to be the winner. When a column us filled, I start again. I never let them see this paper.  Third graders are crafty and would be onto me in no time. 

Either way you play your room will be clean.  Add this to your first week plans and tell others.  I promise you will be glad you did.  It's so nice to have the classroom looking perfect as the kids leave so your prep for the next day is much easier.

The printable above is a great tool for organizing and managing Find It  & Fix It in your classroom.  It is part of my Blackline Design Product collection that I've created to provide teachers with resources that save money on ink and can be customized to match any classroom theme or color scheme. The Find It & Fix It Packet includes 3 different styles / patterns with the following components in each (15 printables in all).
  • a game rules poster that I have filled in for you
  • a game rules poster for you to customize
  • a set of winner certificates to use as "prizes"
  • a tracking sheet to ensure that all students have a fair amount of turns numbered 1-25
  • a blank tracking sheet for you to fill in with names or #s if you have more than 25 students and need to print multiple copies

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