Let’s Play the Put-Away Game!

Let’s Play the Put-Away Game!

During the first week of preschool, we spend lots of time exploring the things we can play with in our classroom, the things we can do in our classroom, and the ways we can help take care of our classroom. A simple way we introduce the children to the things in our classroom and help them realize that everything belongs somewhere once they finish their play is by inviting the children to play this simple “Put-Away” game…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

To set up the “Put-Away” game, we set out different items from around each center of the classroom on trays. For our pre-k, each tray held a different type of item and there were 10 items on each tray so every child would have something to put away from each tray.  We realized after playing the game this way that it would be better if each child had their own tray so we repeated the process later with the pre-k and our preschool class by giving each child their own tray of objects and the process worked like a charm!

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

On each child’s tray were small things that I had gathered from around each center of our classroom. Things like pencils, scissors, animals, blocks, watercolor paints, pompoms, light table toys, and so on. We intentionally chose small objects that would be easy for the children to overlook as being available to them and more challenging to remember where they belong after play…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

To play the “Put-Away” game, the children simply found their own tray and then began searching around the classroom to find where each item on the tray belonged. The teachers stayed available to give hints or support where needed but our pre-k children were all over this game and needed very little help in the process…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

This was such a simple game but super effective in both helping the children notice things they hadn’t noticed before in the classroom as well as helping the children realize that everything has a place where it belongs…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Not on the trays were a stack of books for the children to also put back on our bookshelf…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

As the children put things away, they also spent time helping each other and talking with each other about the things they were finding or which basket something might belong in…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Also not on the trays were little pieces of paper sprinkled around our large group carpet that needed picked up and thrown in the trash…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

I think it is important to note here that the children had played in the classroom for two days BEFORE we introduced this game so the children were already familiar with the classroom set-up and the more popular items like blocks and cars. I think it is best to give the children a couple of days to explore the classroom first so that when the “Put-Away” game is played, they are not overwhelmed by the tiny details of the classroom and are more ready for the process…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

The pre-k children did a remarkable job at the Put-Away game and enjoyed the process. It was kind of like going on a scavenger hunt only a little bit backwards from the traditional scavenger hunt. In our preschool class (which include our young 3’s and 4’s) we modified the game just a little bit. The children still had their own trays with their own name on the tray but instead of hunting for where things belonged, we held up the basket and said “If you have a _______ on your tray” then come and put it in the basket you will find right here!”

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

The children would then find the item on their tray and then come and put it away in the correct basket or jar or shelf…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Just like our PreK, the preschool age children began noticing things they hadn’t noticed before and did a remarkable job sorting through the things on their tray and putting them all away…

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

I intentionally made sure that every tray had all the same items to keep the children from being confused. If we called out “Who has a pom-pom?” Everyone had a pom-pom….

Learning where things belong in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

So there you have it! Our simple “put-away” game!

 

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14 Comments

  • Melissa SLoan Posted September 1, 2014 7:57 am

    Deborah….GREAT great great idea! Perfect example of learning through play. Thanks for the wonderful idea. Your classroom looks beautiful!
    ~Melissa

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted September 1, 2014 12:15 pm

    Thank you Melissa:)

  • Jennifer Posted September 1, 2014 12:40 pm

    I like to take pictures of items on tray or basket and place where they belong so that children see how it is suppose to look before leaving so that it is ready for the next child. Pics are placed of color paper for each area. Math is blue, language is pink, and etc. works great! I really like your idea of the game of remembering where things go.

    Jennifer S.

  • Winona Posted September 1, 2014 12:47 pm

    I love this idea! I will be implementing this game for sure.

  • Amanda Mason Posted September 1, 2014 5:02 pm

    I love this idea! That is our biggest struggle….trying to get everyone to clean up. What I wonderful way to get them excited about it and make them aware of where things are and what is available. Thank you!

  • Betsy Posted September 1, 2014 7:38 pm

    This is such a great idea. It’s going in my plan book for the Friday of our first week.

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted September 1, 2014 10:58 pm

    I think we all have that struggle to some degree 🙂

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted September 1, 2014 11:00 pm

    That is such an awesome idea Jennifer! I will have to give that a try too as soon as I can get myself more organized:)

  • juli margolin Posted September 2, 2014 12:25 am

    I love this idea and am going to do something like it this week with my prek class. Where did you get your trays? I have been wanting to get some like that but wasn’t sure where to look?
    Thanks for the help!

    juli

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted September 2, 2014 12:54 am

    I got some from United Art and Supply and a different set from Lakeshore Learning. The one’s from Lakeshore Learning are a little more durable:)

  • Jennifer Lewis Posted September 6, 2014 6:04 pm

    I LOVE this game. I think its great that you revised it for the younger preschool students so they could participate in it too. I loved scavenger hunts when I was younger so I could see how the children could really enjoy this. This is a game that I would love to play with my future students.

  • Anne-Marie Posted September 10, 2014 10:44 pm

    I love the idea of asking the little ones ‘Who has a ______?’ and offering up the basket it goes in. Such a simple idea, but allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment when their tray is empty AND everything is put away. Very clever.

  • Sarah Posted February 7, 2017 6:44 am

    Debra

    I love this idea and plan to do it with my preschool class. How would you recommend doing this with a class of 22 – would you split them into two groups and do this at seperate times?

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted February 7, 2017 4:13 pm

    I think it depends on the age of the children and how well you can manage the process. If it were me, I might split the class in two groups.

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