10 Things To Do at the End of the School Year for a Smooth Back to School

Ten things to do at the end of the school year for a smooth back to school

10 Things To Do at the End of the School Year for a Smooth Back to School

Hey, y'all. We're nearing the end of the school year and many of us are having to pack up our classrooms. It's stressful, yes, but there are some things you can do now to help make your unpacking in the fall so much easier. 

Now, as of this writing, I have taught for 12 years and have had to pack up my ENTIRE classroom before summer break for 11 of those years. Some years the district was "painting classrooms" (couldn't tell) or I was moving rooms or schools or states. Whatever the reason you need to pack-up, these tips will help make the transition a little smoother. Trust me, I'm a packing expert at this point!

1. Clean out your junk

We all have supplies that we're saving for that one art project or science experiment. I currently have a ridiculous amount of egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, and wrapping paper for that one art project. Toss it before you start packing. You don't want to start the next school year with that kind of baggage.

Also sort through any books you have that you want to get rid of. Let the kids take home any of those books or give them to a new teacher or Goodwill. 

2. Organize your other junk

I have a large stash of construction paper, card stock, and Astrobrights paper. Before I start packing, I organize all the little things so that they're easier to pack and find again in the fall. The more prep work you do before your close up shop, the easier it will be for you in the fall. If you just start randomly throwing all your crap in boxes, it'll take you forever to get it all unpacked and organized. 

3. Invest in quality boxes or storage totes

I've been using the same storage totes for every move. This year, I have to put things in boxes. (long story) You want quality containers so they won't break on you. Storage totes are great because they're reusable and easy to open and add to or look through. 

If your stuff is going to be in a place where someone could go through it, get boxes and tape them up securely. Clear storage containers are nice to see which stuff is in each box, but it also invites others to take a peek, too. These are the ones I use. You can find them on Amazon here (affiliate link) or at Target or Walmart. I purchased a few at a time over the years to keep the cost down. 

Use storage totes to pack up your classroom at the end of the school year

4. Group like things together

Put all the similar things in the same box. When all your craft supplies are together and all your math manipulatives are together, you can find it faster and know what to unpack first. It also makes it easier to spread your boxes out when unpacking so you're not tripping over things. All the things that go in the cabinets can be over there, your books can be where your new library is going to be, small group things are in that corner, etc. Also be sure to separate your stuff from school and district stuff. You don't want to mix the two. 

5. Set aside a "first open" box

This will be the box you need as soon as you start unpacking. It should have your scissors, tape, stapler, things to hang stuff with, sharpies, classroom decor, etc. Anything and everything you'll need to get going. This one little step makes a HUGE difference when starting to setup in the fall. This will most likely be the box you close up last since you'll be using this stuff as you take things down and pack them up.

6. Label your containers

This sounds like a no-brainer but it's an easily forgotten step. When you return to school and your pile of boxes/containers in the fall, you'll be thankful you labeled everything. Especially our "first open" box. You can use those fancy labels and things if you want, but I usually just stick with packing tape and sharpies. 

If you're moving within the building or district and the custodians or someone is taking your stuff from your old room to your new room, be sure to put your name on your boxes as well. 

I also number them so if I'm looking at everything that's arrived and there is a gap in the numbers (like, I have 10 and 12 but no number 11) I know we need to go look for it. Without the numbers, I just walk around swearing I have box with "xyz" in it and feel like I'm going crazy 'cause it's nowhere.

7. DO NOT pack all your class books into large boxes

I've been in trouble for this before. First, I can't move them myself unless I have a dolly or something. Second, if I have someone helping me, they are not happy trying to move that sh!t. Either put your books in several smaller boxes or put books in the bottom half of bigger boxes and put light weight stuff on top. This is where you can throw random bags of cotton balls or Q-tips for those STEM activities in. Just remember, if you put 100 pounds worth of stuff in one box it's going to a pain in the you know what to move it and the bottom might fall out of it.

Classroom bookshelf organization for packing up at the end of the school year

8. Go through the behind-the-scenes stuff first

As soon as you start packing up things the kids can see they will lose their ever-loving minds. Pack up, weed out, and condense all the things they don't see first. Wait until the very end to start taking things off the walls. The kids will be SHOCKED when they realize how much  stuff is yours and not the schools!

The exception to this is if you have state testing that requires you to take down or cover up the things on your walls. In this case, you can take down all the wall stuff and leave it down and blame it on the test. 

9. Put your name on the big stuff

I have a classroom rug, wobble stools, and an easel I got through Donors Choose projects. They are mine and not the schools. I have my name in sharpie in big letters on all the things. You can put your name in inconspicuous places so that they're still marked but you won't be looking at it for the rest of your life. This way, when it ends up in someone else's room or in storage on accident you can easily claim it without issue. 

10. Don't let the kids do too much of the packing

I know it can be tempting, especially in the last week of school. I mean, surely they can handle it, and many hands make light work, right? No. Even with the best behaved kids, things will turn up missing. Things will not be in the right box or the way you want it. There will be arguing among students. The list goes on. Things I let my students help with are things like cleaning lap desks, organizing books but not boxing them up, wiping down desks and walls, tossing dried out markers, etc. Magic erasers and wet wipes are fantastic for this and the kids love to use them. 

Once the kids start packing up the room, they will officially be in summer mode. They will not listen. They will not do anything productive. School mode will be off and summer brains are on. And if you are still working on curriculum, you can kiss those lessons good-bye. For reference, see tip #8. 

I know it's a lot--we have SO MUCH stuff--but do the bulk of it on your own and let the kids help with cleaning, not packing. So grab your favorite iced beverage, turn the music up, and get to it. If you have to do some of the packing on a weekend, be sure to bring snacks. They make it so much better. 😉

I hope these tips help make your end of the year pack up a little easier. It can be daunting, but it's also a great excuse to clean things out or try out some new classroom decor since you had to take it all down anyway. Every time I take everything down, I create a new theme for the next school's decor. It helps me start the next year with some fresh energy. 

Thanks for stopping by and have wonderful week. I'll talk to you soon. 

Stay cozy, 

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