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The Secret to a Spotless Classroom

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Teachers love a spotless classroom but that doesn’t mean that can only be achieved through constant cleaning by the teacher.  There’s a huge secret to achieving a spotless classroom and it requires little to no effort!

The Typical (and NORMAL) Classroom

First of all, if you have a classroom that tends to slowly get destroyed throughout the day, this is normal.  Let me repeat.  This is normal.  So often teachers are seeing classroom pictures on blogs and Pinterest that appear to never have a piece of anything out of place.  This can cause feelings of inadequacies and self doubt.  Please don’t do this to yourself.

Don’t Put This On Yourself

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that my first couple years of teaching were spent stressing about always wanting to look like I had it together.  I wanted my classroom to appear that I had everything under control and my students were trained to perfectly execute routines.  This meant that I was constantly picking up and arranging my classroom so it was neat, clean, and organized at all times.  I’m sure you can guess this but this was stressful!  This is no way to be.  Then I had an epiphany.

Mystery Scrap

After about two years of spending my time constantly cleaning, I decided it was time to place this on my students.  After all, they were the ones that were making the mess. This is when “mystery scrap” became a thing!

How It Works

When the classroom starts to look messy and you have a spare two minutes, this is what you do.  Tell your students the following directions.

“Boys and girls, right now we are going to play a game called Mystery Scrap.  I am going to secretly choose one scrap of paper in our classroom.  I am going to set the timer for two minutes and when I say go you are going to start picking up the scraps you see on the floor.  Whoever picks up the mystery scrap is going to be the winner and earn a brag tag.  (If you don’t do brag tags in your classroom, you can always choose a different reward.)  Are you ready to play?”

Download the free Mystery Scrap brag tag here

Watch The Magic Happen

Yes, magic.  Those students immediately scatter and clean up the classroom faster than you’ve ever seen in your entire life.  It’s truly magical.  Best of all, students will ASK to play the game again the next day.   #winning  You can now look forward to endless days of a spotless classroom.  You’re welcome!

Feel free to save this idea and pin it to your Pinterest board.

Teachers love a spotless classroom but that doesn't mean that can only be achieved through constant cleaning by the teacher.  There's a huge secret to achieving a spotless classroom and it requires little to no effort!


  1. Tanya

    This works amazingly well!!


  2. Betsy Robinson

    I tried this with my wiley second graders. The first day was awesome. On the second day, I saw kids planting trash under their desks so that they could have a better chance at getting the mystery scrap. They’re too slick! I still do it randomly so they don’t know when to “prepare”.

  3. Chrystal

    I learned of this game years ago from a colleague. We call it Secret Treasure Trash. This game, my friends, is pure brilliance!!!

  4. Mary

    We play the same game, but we call it Magic Trash. If a child shows you the scrap and asks if it is magic it loses all of its power and no longer wins a prize. The teacher then picks another Magic piece. This stops every first grader in my class from showing me everything they pick up. We always play on party days and parents are amazed at how well it works (some have even tried it at home to get toys picked up.)


    we’ll try these…

  6. Diana

    My kids loved this!!! They were excited to do this every day. I can’t wait to start it at the beginning of the new year. The winner won a Hands are for Helping Brag Tag, even though they were asking for a Mystery Scrap Brag Tag. I think this summer I will create one from the Editable Brag Tags Bundle. Thanks for the brilliant idea, Angie!!!

  7. Terri

    OMG! I am definitely using this next year. This is a great idea.

  8. Cheryl

    I call this “ the magic piece” game and my Kindergarten students love it!

  9. Sherrii

    Try mystery walker in line, mystery pencil, mystery chair….

  10. Kristi Clair

    Love this idea. I am definitely doing this when kiddos are back in the classroom.


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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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