We do a poster raffle. Anything on the wall I’d normally throw out (anchor charts, math graphs, etc.), I lay out on tables. Then, I pull names, and students get to take home a piece of the classroom!
The Modular Model
I keep as much as possible completely intact: I pack the pencil cans full of sharpened pencils, put baskets of supplies into tubs clean and as is, and so on. That way, all I have to do is place items where they go when I set up next year—it takes a few extra tubs to do this, but it’s worth it.
Scavenger hunt! Give students index cards, label each with an item, and have kids find the items and put them in the appropriate box.
To help close down the classroom, I put the children in teams, and they pull slips of paper listing various tasks out of a basket. The team that completes its task first gets a prize, and the other teams get a treat as well.
When I pack up, I put any learning aids that I didn’t use at all during the year in a plastic tote. I save the tote for one extra year, and anything I don’t pull out for classroom use gets donated at the end of that year.
Designer Drop Cloth
We have to cover all our furniture, so I have students decorate pieces of butcher paper and use that to cover everything. It entertains them on the last day, and I’m greeted by adorable memories in the fall!
If you have to take everything off your walls, take a picture of each wall first! The photos really help in the fall when you’re figuring out spacing and getting everything to fit.
Out of Sight
I organize activities and manipulatives for each unit in tubs marked with the subject. When I finish, it goes into storage right away. At the end of the year, I have less to take home.
Ask the Experts
At the end of the year, students show off their expertise by helping me go through our book baskets. As they organize the books, they decide if we should pass on any to others, if any books are outdated, and if any need better labels. They also leave little notes for future readers!
Photo: Lise Gagné/Getty Images