The Golden Plunger Award

Maybe this is exclusively a problem at my school, but a few semesters back, we had a huge issue with the cleanliness (or lack thereof) in our bathrooms. They were just awful! Toilet paper on the floor, toilets not flushed, water running, garbage on the ground. So we decided that if we wanted kids to take ownership, then we'd have to give them ownership. Brilliant, right? A Team First CAREacter Crew rep volunteered her first graders to be the inaugural members of The Bathroom Brigade. They would be trained as scouts and sent into the bathrooms at random times to assess the four trouble spots and see if the water faucets were off, toilets were flushed, toilet paper was in its proper place, and paper towels were disposed of in the trash. 

Click {here} to see and/or download our score sheet.
We made a bulletin board as a visual reminder.

We decided to challenge our students to a friendly competition. Who could keep their bathrooms cleaner each week, the boys or the girls? And the prize? The Golden Plunger Award would be given to the gender whose facilities got the better weekly score. So by now you might be laughing, but wait, there's more. After the announcement was made at our weekly school-wide gathering, a few representatives from the group that earned the Golden Plunger (yep, it was an old-fashioned plunger, spray painted in GOLD!) that week would lift the Golden Plunger high into the air like a torch and take it on a victory lap around the gym while the theme song of Chariots of Fire blared in the background. And while you might still be snickering, listen to this; our veteran coach told us that the bathrooms that semester were, indeed, the cleanest she'd seen them in all of her
 31 years at our school.  (Don't you love data?)

I'm told that custodians really appreciate this and the Golden Dustpan Award (up for grabs to the classroom that's the cleanest each afternoon), both equally effective in engaging students to take ownership of and show respect for school property.

What clever programs have you started to stop an issue? 


  1. Yes, Barbara, I was snickering! This is a great idea. I'm going to share this with our PBIS team and see what they think. This would be a great way to include our custodians in our PBIS initiative.


  2. GREAT idea! Our 5th grade GIRLS had a vandalizing problem in the bathroom this year. Several times there were obscene words written on the doors. It was awful! I'm hoping we don't have any issues like that this year.

  3. Our custodian would love this. She has what I like to call "high expectations" (for students and teachers alike) and a little motivation like an award - even that of a plunger! - would certainly encourage kids to pay attention to the details of their trip to the restroom. Re: programs I've started to address an issue, I designed the Purple Hand Pledge program around the Hands and Words are Not For Hurting Project and it has been super successful. The intention is to motivate students to stop and think before saying or doing something hurtful to others (and themself!) and therefore cut down on bullying incidents. I do a student survey (surveymonkey) each spring to keep data regarding its effectiveness, and to help me with lesson planning for the following year.

  4. Barbara, I LOVE this idea!!! What a great way for the kids to take responsibility for the things they use the most, lavatory and classroom!! I am going to share this with my principal!!! As always thanks for sharing!!!


  5. Oh my goodness - do you know how much I LOVE that they run a lap in the gym to We Are The Champions, with their "torch" in the air - how FUN is that??? Maybe I could get my own girls to buy into this with Olympic Fever going on in our house ... ;)
    Hope you're having a wonderful day, Barbara!

    Runde's Room


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