How Do You Teach a Child to Clean-Up their Toys?


It’s normal and common to struggle to get children to help at clean up time.  It took me years to figure out the best method to use when teaching young children to clean up toys independently.  I combined techniques from veteran teachers and early childhood educators.  The method was tweaked and adjusted with different children until the whole process looks and feels effortless. There are five key steps to master this method.  I wrote the guide, “Clean Up Time- How to Turn an Unmotivated Child into a Cleaning Guru” for those of you who are seeking assistance at clean up time.

Clean Up Time- How to Turn an Unmotivated Child into a Cleaning Guru” guide can be purchased from my store.  Click the link here.

For those of you who would like a quick tip for free, here’s a new twist to try when using the tried and true clean up song approach.


Clean Up Song- A New Twist

Children want to participate in an activity when it is fun. If something looks like fun and sounds like fun, young kids want to give it a try. Music is a wonderful medium that crosses age, gender and cultural boundaries. The vast majority of children enjoy singing and listening to music. Pairing a undesirable activity, such as cleaning up toys, with a desiring activity, like singing works well to entice new participants.

An upbeat song with help to increase the enthusiasm in the room. Tidy up songs need to be simple so that even the youngest child can quickly learn them. I have one tidy up song that I sing when a particular child needs help to be drawn into the activity. The lyrics incorporate the child’s name into the song. Nothing is more powerful than singing a child’s name to gain their attention.

I also use a bit of positive social peer pressure to entice them to join the group cleaning up. I will sing the lyrics of the song and add in a child’s name that is currently cleaning. Then I will sing it again and use another child’s name that is helping tidy up. Young children want to hear their name sung out loud, they want to experience the acknowledgement that comes with being center stage for one verse of a song. This desire to be featured in the song motivates them to start to clean up some toys.

Here are the words to the song.

I know a little mouse,
His name is _________ mouse.
He’s such a helpful mouse,
He tidies up the house.

What do you do if no one is tidying up?   Sing your own name in the song!

Or purchase my, “Clean Up Time- How to Turn an Unmotivated Child into a Cleaning Guru”  guide for the full step-by- step manual.


Many hands make light work.  Happy cleaning!





  1. Such a cute song! I’m definitely implementing this in my day care!