Clean and Messy


Type of Activity:  Problem Solving, Working Together


Props Needed:  Marker Cones and designated boundary area



  1. Clear a large space in the room or go to a large space.
  2. Spread the cones out in the space, with half of them standing and the other half lying down.
  3. Randomly identify half of the students as the mess makers and the other half as the cleaners.
  4. Tell the students that if they are mess makers, they are trying to tip all the cones over. If they are cleaners, they are trying to stand the cones back up.  This is all to be done with walking feet.  For safety reasons, no one is to run.
  5. Tell the students that you will give them one minute either to make messes or to clean them up.
  6. Remind the students to use walking feet.
  7. Yell “go” and begin the time. (If they are having fun, extend the time.)
  8. After one round, have everyone switch roles and try it again.


Debrief Topics:

  • What was difficult about your job?
  • Did you have any strategy to your mess making or clean up process?
  • Where do you see this kind of process outside of this activity?

Journey Towards the Caring Classroom, by Laurie Frank.


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