Clean Up Time

Feb 22nd, 2021

Smiley Riley

How do you handle clean up? Do you clean up multiple times throughout the day? Do you wait until the end of the day and then clean up? Does your little one help you with clean up, or do you prefer to clean up after your little one is asleep?

Clean up time is a great activity to include your little one in. They should help you clean up the mess they have made. This helps them to begin to learn about responsibility. You can use this opportunity to promote language development. Turning clean up into a game can make clean up time fun and easier. Here are some ideas to try.

Clean Up Song

  • Make clean up time apart of the daily routine. When playtime is over, signal clean up time with a clean-up song. This is a great way to transition into clean-up time. Be consistent and always use a clean-up song to signal clean-up time to help your little one learn what this routine means.
  • We like to sing:

Clean-up, clean-up Everybody, everywhere Clean-up, clean-up Everybody do their share

  • For older children, use the clean-up song as a game. They have to finish cleaning up before the song is over. You can find other clean-up songs to use that are longer. Clean Up by Super Simple Songs and Clean Up Song by The Kiboomers are also great clean up songs to use.

Clean Up Language Learning

  • Especially when cleaning up with young children, clean-up time is a parent-assisted activity. While you clean up with your child, use specific and repetitive language.
  • When Riley and I clean-up, I always use the word “in” over and over. I ask Riley to grab specific toys using direction words and then tell her to put those toys in. This works on Riley’s receptive language and vocabulary development. The repetition of using the simple, direct word “in” encourages Riley to use her expressive language to mimic me.
  • This activity is a great way to check your child’s receptive language and vocabulary. This helps them to both learn the names of their toys; as well as, show you that they understand what you are saying when you ask them to grab the ball and put it in.

Clean-up Toss

  • To encourage your child to be activity as they clean-up, you can encourage them to use an underhand toss to clean up their toys. They can toss the toys in the basket. This is a great skill to practice in young children. They have to rely on their gross motor development, balance, as well as figure out how much force to use to toss the toy into the basket.

What other clean-up tricks do you use with your little one? I’d love to hear what works for you and your little one(s).

Smiley Riley


  • Language Development: Asking your child to grab different toys to put them in or away reinforces both receptive and expressive language.
  • Listening and Following Directions: As your child responds to your simple directions to find toys and put them away, they are learning to listen and follow your directions.
  • Fine Motor Development: Your child is exercising their fine motor grasp as they pick up and put their toys away.
  • Gross Motor Development: Your child is moving all around the room to grab toys to put away.
  • Cognitive Development: Your child is demonstrating their understanding of your words to grab toys around the room and put them away.

Smiley Riley