Co-Cleaning at the End of the Year in Your Primary Classroom

Want to know something a little bit weird about me that’s related to the end of the school year (since it’s coming really soon and all)?

Here it is…

I actually LOVE having to pack up and move classrooms.

Isn’t that strange?? I don’t know anyone else who gets excited when their principal tells them they’re moving rooms. 😂

I am actually super pumped this year because I am moving classrooms for September. Currently, I am in a small room that used to be the tech room. There are outlets everywhere, there is NO storage, and it gets very tight the second I have more than 16 students.

Next year, I get to go to a bigger room, with a little office attached where I can keep my teacher desk + tons of shelves and cupboard space, and I am so pumped!

Even though it’s a lot of work to pack up and move rooms, I love it because…

I am super unorganized and my classroom always gets cluttered, no matter how hard I try not to let it get out of hand. When I move rooms, I have no choice but to gut everything, purge, reorganize, and get myself together.

So, I love it!

(And don’t get me wrong – while I still have lots of progress to make, I have come a LONG WAY since the beginning of my career, when I would write lesson plans on sticky notes, and have baskets and baskets of things to “put away”.)

Have you started packing up your classroom yet?

Teaching a primary grade is no joke, and if you’re not already inherently an organized, clutter-free, everything-in-its-place kind of person, it can get out of hand REALLY quickly. So, packing up my classroom each June can be a challenge, to say the least!

In this blog post,, I’ll share a couple of simple tips that help me out each year (plus a super-simple freebie checklist you can use to help you out, too).

Do you clean up your classroom on your own at the end of each school year? Stop! There is no reason why your primary students can't help you clean, sort, tidy, and more. Check out this blog post for some simple tips and a FREE blank to do list!

Share the Load

First of all, I get my students to pack up as much as possible.

I am a firm believer that anything students can do, they should do – I have enough on my plate just trying to teach them, haha!

We should get them to do the work that they are able to do as often as possible… and that includes packing up their stuff!

In my classroom, we are a community. In my opinion, part of being a community is sharing the load and taking responsibility when it’s time to clean up. I didn’t spend the year in this room by myself, so I shouldn’t have to clean it up by myself at the end of the year!

There are many tasks I get my students to help me with, but of course, they can’t all work on the same one at the same time. It would not work well to ask 20 kids to take down the word wall, for example!

So, I usually choose 5-6 tasks that we work on simultaneously. Not everyone is in the same group working on the same thing, but we are all working. Many hands make light work, and with my “on task” students spread out among the groups, I find I am usually able to circulate and make sure everything is being done well with minimal chaos!

A Simple List of Tasks to Outsource to Students

Here is a quick list of tasks that I’ve gotten my students to do for me during clean up over the years:

  • Put their own leftover supplies/art projects/etc in their backpacks
  • Sort out their levelled readers (I have a basket for each level and students go through their own baskets/bags and put them in the correct basket. Then, I have students work in pairs with a basket each, where they group multiple copies of the same books. This makes it SO much easier for me when I return our books to the shared book room!)
  • Take down and pack up word wall words, référentiels, art work, etc.
  • Sorting math manipulates
  • Putting my snap cubes in groups of 5, all one colour – this makes handing them out for partner math activities the following year SO. MUCH. EASIER!!! I always store my snap cubes this way!
  • Cleaning up the classroom library/putting my picture books into baskets
  • Taking down/cleaning up centres
  • One final paintbrush/art supply scrub
  • Taking any library books I’ve borrowed throughout the year back to the librarian
  • Taking their names off of their bins, hallway tags down, etc. and putting them in their friends’ spots to take home
  • Sorting our alphabet flash cards – I store these by letter, since I add one letter at a time to their rings as we learn them in September, rather than giving them the entire alphabet at once. So, I need a few students to put all the same letters together on their binder rings. Same for our sight word/sounds lists
  • Other general sweeping, dusting, tracking down toys/making sure they are in the right place, etc

What To Do Once Your Room is Tidy?

Of course, once your room is tidy, you’ll want some simple, mess-free activities to help keep it that way!

My first suggestion is definitely to go outside! Take chalk and write words, do math problems, etc. Read stories underneath a tree. Build structures, make mandalas and patterns, and do art using materials found in nature. The potential is limitless!

If weather is not on your side, here are a couple inside mess-free options:

One Final Tip

Another thing that helps me a lot is to make a list of EVERYTHING we need to get done before we start. Then, I take the tasks on that list and slot them into spaces in my planner, like appointments.

If you want a SIMPLE (black & white, nothing fancy) list template to help you stay on track, I’ll share mine with you today. I like it because there are no distractions, but also because it’s editable. Just download it with Adobe, and you’ll be able to type your tasks right inside!

Or, if you prefer, just print it out (the blue boxes will disappear) and write on it with your favourite pen.

Just click HERE or on the image below for your copy!

Looking for a simple, clutter-free, editable to do list for end of year classroom tidying? Look no further! Check out this blog post for a blank list you can download today!

REMEMBER, you MUST download it to your computer and open it with ADOBE to type in it and/or delete my examples! It will NOT work if you just open it in your browser (which is probably your computer’s default).

Got any other classroom tidying tips? I’d love to hear them! Drop me a comment and let me know your best ones :)

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