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"Why Didn't I Think of That?!" Classroom Packing Tips

By Alycia Zimmerman on June 3, 2015
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

My non-teacher friends are keeping a countdown on my behalf until the last day of school. While the end of the school year simply means revelry and relaxation for non-teachers, it's actually one of the most stressful times of the year for me! Not only do I have the emotional trauma of saying goodbye to my 27 favorite young people, I also need to pack up an entire year's worth of materials and memories. And it's not as if we have extra time for cleaning and packing; in my district, the students attend class until the very last day, at which point our rooms must be summer-ready. So, right now I'm juggling teaching, managing antsy students with spring fever, and trying to pack up my classroom in a sensible manner that will leave me organized for a smooth start in the fall. Aaaaah!

While packing and cleaning is not my expertise, many of my colleagues make it look (relatively) easy. So, I turned to them for their wise words of advice, which I'm excited to share with your here in this video. From easy student portfolios to using Goo Gone to tackle stuck-on labels, their tips are already making my life easier and calmer — I hope they are helpful for you too!


Please share your end-of-year packing tips in the comments below. I'd love to hear all of your ideas (no tip is too small, I promise!) and I'm sure other people would love to hear them too!

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Comments (15)

I usually have a list of chores that eager students are glad to perform. My strongest readers often will be assigned to go through my book baskets, with the help of a friend who may not be quite as strong, and sort the genres as labeled on the baskets. The books get very mixed up by end of year. While they are sorting, others are dusting the shelves.
I also have some children take my huge canister of markers and test every single one to be sure it is not drying or dried out. We do the same with pens.
The children love to take down bulletin boards, as well. I have bins already established for the pieces, so I have them take down, discard staples, and stack the pieces neatly.
Because we change anchor charts and posters as we conquer new skills and concepts, the end of year hangings need to come down. Kids love to remove all that masking tape. They roll the posters/charts, rubber band them, and I label them. They all go in to a container designated for them.

Wow, Mary, what an amazing system! You sound SO organized - can you please come visit my classroom to help me pack? ;) Thank you for sharing your expert tip.

I use clear plastic tote boxes to pack and store my items in. I label the totes by content area, or general topics like "desk items." As I sort I put the items into the totes. My final steps are to take the things out of the tote, photo the label on the outside e.g. Art 1, Art 2, and then I take a photo of each item in the tote, and create a photo album on my phone for each of the totes. When I'm looking for something, I can quickly check the tote to see which one the item is in, and better yet...when I'm finish with it I can check and tell a student which tote to put it into.

From the time I have packed things away to the time I have to retrieve them, I often forget where I placed them. This time I jotted down on my Ipad where I put things. I don't have an inside closet so they go in cubbies. I just jot down what cubbie I used to put away a particular item.

In reference to going through worksheets and other copies to get rid of extras - I have just started scanning my copies into my computer and storing them on a flash drive. This way, I can organize and access them without going through files and binders. Storage problems are also eliminated and I can take them with me anywhere!

Tammy, great suggestion! I store most of my "paperwork" digitally too, and throw away all of the extra hardcopies. Of course, keeping it all organized on my computer is also a job. Thanks for sharing your tip!

these are awesome suggestions

At the end of the school year we collected all of our extra or unwanted supplies and had a quarter sale. The money went to our "backpack" program. We did quite well!

At the end of the school year, put out a "FREE" table of items you don't want any more....books, folders, notebooks, etc. The kids will be happy to take most stuff off your hands. If you put out books, hopefully students will read them over the summer!

LOL hey I recognize those classrooms - I was watching the video and thinking "This teacher has to be in NYC!"

I mark a box "BACK TO SCHOOL" and put in all those things I will need when we all show up the week before school starts - grown up scissors, stapler and staples, sharpies, tape, etc. I leave that box for last when putting things in closets and put it in my teacher closet. That way it's there for me to retrieve first thing, and I don't have to waste time locating those items.

Thanks for posting this - just at the right time of year. Happy summer vacation, ladies! Oh and one gentleman. :)

Haha, yes, I'm definitely in NYC, and we still have two weeks of packing (oh, and teaching,) to go here. I love your "Back to School Box" suggestion - way to put "backwards design" to use in classroom packing! Have an awesome summer vacation too, VW. All the best - Alycia

Good post Alycia - One tip I did this year was to go through my files and get rid of any extra copies or outdated ones. I gave the kids all sorts of old work sheets or extras and they loved them and my file cabinet is nice and neat now.
Have a great summer.

On the last day of school, squirt a bit of shaving cream (men's dollar store variety) and give each kids a piece of sponge and have them clean their desks. The shaving cream works very well to get off every bit of sticky dirt and grime. The kids love it and it smells good in your room after you do it too!

I love the shaving cream - and we have a "Sight Word" spelling bee while cleaning. The students write the words in the shaving cream and then erase :)

Kristen, what a super tip! I'm sure the students love "cleaning" (playing?) with the shaving cream. I'm definitely using this - thanks for sharing! ~ Alycia

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