It’s that time of year. I’m guessing you’re tired and so ready for summer to start! You may be counting down the days, but as those days draw nearer you realize it’s also time for the dreaded clean up, pack up, and organization tasks. Cue the dramatic music! But what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be stressful? In fact, it can actually be fun and help you destress even more during summer so you can truly enjoy your time off! When the next school year comes, you’ll be ready to walk back through those doors refreshed and ready for a new school. In this post, you’ll learn some quick and easy tips to help you get organized and leave for summer ready to relax!
#1: Declutter, Clean, and Take Home
It’s only right that tip number one is the most daunting one so we can get this one out of the way first. Whatever space that has become a dumping ground for all things that “will be dealt with later” is the space I would start with. You’ll feel SO productive because the biggest task is done.
Take the time to declutter those spaces and really truly PURGE items. This can be hard. I know I’m guilty of keeping those cute things that I *might* need one day. Just don’t. Make spots to donate, trash, and keep. Go through ALL the things and get rid of it if you haven’t looked at it all year, never opened it, or it didn’t work out. I know it’s hard but your next year’s self will thank you! While you’re in there organizing and decluttering, it’s a great time to take inventory of your school supplies. What do you have a lot of? What do you need more of for next year? Is there something you use a lot of that needs to be added to the school supply list? This is a good time to get all those things in order so you can restock during all those back to school sales!
I also like to make piles of things that need to be taken home. Over the summer, I believe it to be best practice to take home all the things that have been greatly loved and CLEAN them. We’re talking about reading stuffies, scissors, whisper phones, all those other items that are heavily used. They deserve a fresh start too!
Once you have everything you’re going to keep in the classroom, it’s time to reorganize them so that when the next school year comes, you’re ready to start fresh with an easy to navigate space. I’ve linked in some of my favorite organizing tools in the next section to help make those spaces super inviting!
#2: Use Checklists When Packing
After all the decluttering and organizing, there are always going to be things you have to take home. Check out some great pack up tips HERE to make that process even easier on YOU! I love using checklists during this part of the process because it helps me not have to work my brain so hard to remember every single thing. This FREE checklist can help you get ALL the things done!
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#3: Involve Your Students
Involving students in your cleaning and organizing process can definitely help take a lot of the load off, but over the years two things have stuck with me. One is that students LOVE to help with this process each year. And two, it’s REALLY important to be mindful about what you can take down and when. If you start cleaning and taking down things too early, it can send the signal to students that learning is over for the year. It can also cause some students anxiety because they may not be looking forward to their summer break. Now that’s not to say you can’t begin the process early, but just think about when is a good time to start and what can be accomplished first, such as spaces they aren’t looking at or using often, like cabinets and closets.
When it comes time to let them in on all the things, you might think kids don’t like cleaning but boy do they LOVE it! So what can they do? I let them do as much as possible. They can help you go through center bins to reorganize and clean them up, putting materials back in bags or in new ones that may have ripped, and cleaning off stubborn old dry erase marker stains. Allow them to help you go through school supplies to reorganize and declutter them. Tasks like getting rid of broken crayons and dried out markers are huge! Students can help reorganize the classroom library that may have gotten a tad messy. Learn more about library organization tips HERE! There are LOTS of ways students can help and want to! Find simple tasks for them to help make this hectic time a little easier.
You can also make certain cleaning and organizing tasks a game. One of my favorite end of the year games is when you take down your sound or word wall. After taking down all the words, we break into teams and have a hunt! I call out a word and have them find it. It’s fun, I get all the words back in an organized order for next year, and they get a little reading in!
#4: Use Organization Hacks
So now that you’ve decluttered, donated stuff you don’t need, and basically made a mess of the entire room, you feel good right? Now let’s get into some great organization hacks to get those spaces ready for next year so that they are completely optimized!
- Take pictures of all the things you loved about your classroom setup this year. Maybe it was how the desks are organized, the library is set up, and/or special wall displays. Use these pictures next year to make walking into your space a breeze because you are ready to set things up and know exactly how you like it!
- Optimize closet space and cabinets so those spaces can be utilized better. Organize and bulletin borders with binder clips inside a door.
- Have so many displays that won’t work? I love THIS storage bag to keep them all organized and out of the way.
- Take your bulletin board display organization to the next level with this hack. Store letters for each display in ziploc bags to make it easy to pull, set up and go. No more fumbling trying to find the right letters or pieces to go together!! Talk about saving YOU time!
- Anchor chart hack loading! If you’re the type of person that loves to reuse anchor charts, you have to have a way to store them. Clip hangers to the rescue! You can add some command hooks in a space that works for you and store all your anchor charts with THESE hangers. It makes them so accessible and can easily be pulled for each unit!
If you’ve never reused an anchor chart, I’d HIGHLY recommend you check it out. I love using traceable anchor charts where the outline can be created before you laminate them to be able to reuse with your students year after year.
- After deep cleaning your supplies and manipulatives, organize and label them in clear plastic bins. Find them at Target, Walmart, or the Dollar Tree. Using the same type bins makes them easy to stack and store so they’re always accessible. I like to label ALL the things with THESE labels. Not only is it easy to access, but students can also easily find and get what they need too!
- Organize your centers by unit and store them in these 12×12 Storage Scrapbook Cases from Michael’s. They are PERFECT for storing everything you need and are super secure and easy to pull out to get what you need. Label them with THESE labels so that you can see what’s in them no matter how they’re stored. Take it to the next level and use ziploc bags and EOOUT Plastic Envelopes inside the bins to organize differentiated materials within the unit.
Want to delve deeper in all things center organization? Check out THIS post!
#5: Prep for the Next Year
Last tip, but certainly not least, help make next year even easier by getting those beginning of the year essentials ready! It might seem crazy but I PROMISE this will help you have the most relaxing summer and walk through those doors ready and refreshed to tackle the new school year because you’ll already be semi-prepped!
There’s a few ways I like to do this.
Go ahead and get ALL that Meet the Teacher stuff out of the way and ready to go. These things don’t change much year to year so I like to keep a bin of all the things including copies of our stations and student gifts. That way, when August rolls around, everything is prepped and all ready to go for that event!
Another thing that makes me feel super prepared for next year is going ahead and getting those first week plans and copies DONE! I know that may sound like a lot and maybe a little overwhelming, but I promise you will feel SO good when it’s done. You’ll thank yourself so much later because you won’t have to think about it all summer and you’ll have so much more time setting up your room next year. Check out these first week essentials HERE and of course the back to school survival kit HERE!
I really hope you enjoyed learning some super helpful ways to get and stay organized for each year! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the End of the Year Checklist FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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