Then, last year, when I was teaching first grade, one of my students gave me the BEST idea.
Seriously, it was life changing.
She said to me, "Ms. Butler, why don't we have a trash basket?"
I said, "A what?!"
She said, "You know. A basket to put our scraps in."
You know on TV when someone gets and epiphany and the music goes "Ahhhhhh!" and the lights get super bright? I swear, that happened. That day changed my life. I immediately went to my stash of extra baskets that I pull out whenever I need one, and I placed one in the center of each table.
And guess what?
The kids each placed their paper scraps into the basket.
There were less scraps all over the table.
There were less scraps falling onto the floor.
There were less children cutting up scrap paper into a million little pieces.
BEST. IDEA. EVER.
This year, when I hit up the Dollar Tree, I purchased 4 small baskets that were about 4 inches deep and about half the size of a sheet of paper. Every time we did an activity that required cutting, one of my students would go and get one of the baskets and put them on their table. At the end of the activity, cleaning up was so easy. One student from each table would go dump the basket in the recycling bin and put it away.
My classroom is so much neater at the end of the day, and my sanity has been saved!
If you don't have trash buckets for your table, here's my suggestion: RUN, don't walk, to your nearest Dollar Store or discount store, and purchase them immediately!
Look at how neat the table is! Look how all the scraps are neatly in the baskets!
And that is my helpful tip for the day, just in case you are clueless like I was!