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April 22, 2014

5 Tips for Packing Up the Classroom at the End of the Year

Written By: Brandi Jordan
Category: The School Year
X 5 Tips for Packing Up the Classroom at the End of the School Year

5 Tips for Packing Up the Classroom at the End of the School Year

Get ready, get set, START PACKING!  Can you believe that we are in the final stretch of the school year?  For some, it has been a tough year, but even those who have enjoyed a relatively uneventful year will agree that those final few weeks of school can make or break you.

In fact, there is nothing quite like the moment when you realize that you can count the number of days left in the school year on one hand.  It is a moment of excitement, a moment of joy, and, then, a moment of sheer panic when you realize you have to have your room packed up in less than 24 hours after the last student leaves.  This year, ease the panic and start planning now.  Not only will it make those last few days a breeze, but it will be a great way to get your students involved in cleaning up the room.

Packing Up the Classroom

1.  Purge, Purge, Purge

That’s right – purge.  Purge papers, files, folders, projects, and props that have served you well during the year, but that will not be needed next year.  Recycle what you can, donate materials to other teachers who may need (and want!) them, and throw away what you do not need.  Start early, purge daily, and by that final day of school your classroom will be almost ready for summer.

2.  Containers That Work

Oh, those cute little bins look adorable, but let’s face it, they do not hold nearly enough, they are hard to store over the summer, and your supplies end up a mess by August 1st.  Forgo the cheap and incorrect size bins and invest in containers that actually are made for the things you need to store.  Need a way to store your sentence strips so the ends do not wrinkle or they are not a curved mess when you take them out?  Get a sentence strip box!  Looking for a way to store your posters so you don’t have to shove them in a black trash bag and hope for the best?  Get a large folder that is designed specifically for posters!  The advantage is that you will not have to replace your well-made containers or your teaching materials every other year, because they have been stored incorrectly.  The right containers make storing your supplies easier every time.

3.  Label Like Mad

You may think you will, but you won’t.  Face it, the chances of you remembering what is in each box by the time you head back to school are slim to none if you do not label what is inside.  Write down every single thing that goes in each container and you will find that it is not only easier to set up your classroom in the fall, it will be easier to keep it organized throughout the year and pack it up next spring.  Choose sturdy labels that will not fall off in storage.

4.  Have a Method to Your Madness

The temptation to just throw things in the boxes, stack them in the garage, and be done with them until you head back to school is so strong.  The problem with it is that you will be in a near panic state when you start trying to decorate your room in the fall.  Instead, pack your room up in a way that works for you.  You might want to organize bins by where in the classroom those supplies will go.  For example, you might have “Small Group Supplies”, “Classroom Library Accessories”, and “Reflection Center” bins.  Each labeled bin will contain just those things that belong in that section of the classroom.  Sound like a lot of bins?  Maybe, but it is better to break down the supplies into manageable chunks than to cram a classroom’s worth of supplies into a few large, disorganized containers.  The more organized you are when packing, the less work it will be in the fall.

5.  Kids Can Clean

As excited as you are about the last day of school, your students are about ten times more excited.  They can hardly stay in their seats and concentrate.  Focus that energy and turn it into something productive.  Give students organizing, packing, and cleaning tasks around the room.  Have them weed out useless pieces of crayons, empty glue sticks, and dried-out markers.  Assign them to the classroom library where they check to make sure all of the books are in the correct bins.  (Check out this article for more ideas on packing up the classroom library.)  Let them wipe off the desks and chairs with sanitizing wipes.  The classroom was theirs for an entire year too and it teaches them a valuable lesson about taking care of their space until the very end.  Their future resident hall directors will thank you when they get to college!

You have worked so hard this year to make learning fun, meet standards, complete all of the paperwork, and maintain your enthusiasm.  Do not get overwhelmed with thoughts of cleaning up your classroom.  When you have a plan, anything can be accomplished.  Have a great summer!




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  • Astute Hoot
    April 23, 2014

    Great ideas!  I especially love the sentence strip box!  Thanks.

  • Jeanette
    June 5, 2012

    Purging is the name of the game these days! Honestly, it feels good to recycle and have others reuse. And it’s less for me to pack!

  • allison brocking
    June 3, 2012

    A lot of great useful tips to use to help clean out and pack up for the end of the year.

  • LaProfesoraFrida
    May 29, 2012

    I like the first bit of advice best:

    I always think, “Oh I must have a use for these….” as I stare at the objects in my hand hurting my brain trying to think of what in the world I might need them for!
    If I haven’t used it in a year…. I probably don’t need it anymore!

  • Jennifer Knopf
    May 29, 2012

    I think buying containers is something a lot of people put off, but it is worth it in the end! Having enough containers makes organizing so much easier!

  • Laurie
    May 27, 2012

    I started purng things from my room. What an exhausting process.

  • Mary Masters
    May 27, 2012

    This year I invested in large clear tubs to store my classroom items in. It was quite an investment, but I will have them for years to come. Items are packed by cantegories. e.g. math measurement, math manipulatives and tools, science equipment, science chemicals, and breakables. etc. I laminated different colors of construction paper (for different subject areas) and used a Sharpie to write down what’s in the tubs too. One list for the end and one for the side. I won’t have to unpack everything next year because I can see which tub the items are in quickly. For tubs that I do unpack, they can be stored by nesting them together. Others will be stashed under the computer tables or on shelves when I get out my teaching manuals to put them on the bookcase. Hint in January storage tubs are often on sale. Stock up then if you want to do this. Another convience is that if your tubs are the same size, they stack nicely and will be easy for the custodian to move if necessary.

  • Kim Ayers
    May 27, 2012

    My students love love love to have “jobs” to do. I give tickets as a kind of “payment” for their hard work, and do dollar store prizes at the end of week, year, etc.

  • Rocio Skinner
    May 27, 2012

    Great Ideas! I always try to throw out or recycle as much as possible at the end of the year.

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