Classroom Cleaning and Packing Made Easy

There is no tired like first week of school teacher tired….but the last month does come pretty close! Between report cards and data reports and end of the year activities, it can be tempting to just throw everything in the closets and run home for a much deserved nap!

My classroom is closed from June to mid-August so it’s important for me to get supplies organized and protected!  I try to do as much as I can to make the transition back to school faster and easier! Here are a few tips and tricks I have tried over the past 9 years.

I got almost all of my supplies for packing up and organizing at the Dollar Tree! It’s worth it to spend a few extra bucks in May to keep everything fresh for back to school time! Here are my best tips:

I have big book bins from IKEA that fit perfectly into pillowcases from Dollar Tree! If you have smaller bins, you could probably slide 2 or 3 in each pillowcase. My firsties love helping me get each bin nice and neat. I just tie the pillowcases with some scraps of ribbon to keep dust out!

My leveled library stays on a rolling cart all summer. A plastic table cloth cover from Dollar Tree covers the whole cart! I just tape down the excess. You could also use these covers for anything big in your classroom that needs a little protection.
Putting shower caps on open supply bins is a trick that I use all year! You can drop the whole bin on the floor and 249 paintbrushes and markers don’t go flying across the floor! They also keep dust and busy fingers out your bins when they aren’t being used. You can get 8 shower caps for $1 at Dollar Tree! 
This tip is even better than Thanksgiving leftovers! I wrap my teacher toolbox with Glad Press ‘N’ Seal. I first figured this out last summer when I excitedly packed my teacher toolbox at home and then realized it was ALL going to spill in my car! Wrapping the whole thing keep the draws from sliding, and it seals the back shut!
I secure my supply drawers by taping them shut with washi tape. It keeps everything safe and snug when they get moved for summer cleaning! Just pull it off for a residue free handle.

This spring, I organized my closests in my classroom. I was experiencing some serious classroom nesting! I threw away a lot of outdated and unused items (think lesson plans from student teaching). As I tried to find a home for everything that was left, I realized I needed a lot more labels for my closets!

I got clear storage bins from Dollar Tree. (Except for the boxes with blue lids– they were originally for individual student math manipulative kits.) My favorite bins are the shoe bins and these tall cylinders designed for storing food. All of the new labels have pictures so that my kids can help me keep things organized too!

You can check out all of the labels here! They are available in 3 different styles to perfectly fit your classroom design style!

Setting up bulletin boards and hanging decor always takes me a long time! I try to put all of my decorations to hang up right away in one giant tote. I try to label something if I might forget where it goes. These curtain panels all look the same so I added a note to remind myself where they go.

I put big display items in giant folders that I made with bulletin board paper. Just fold a giant piece in half and staple the sides. It makes a big envelope that is perfect for holding posters, charts, etc.

I store bulletin board letters inside coupon files from Dollar Tree. It makes is soooooo much easier to find the letters you need. Kids also love helping you put letters away!
I used to think I would remember everything until August. As it turns out- I don’t remember anything! I started making myself detailed reminders so that even if my brain turns to mush, I can still whip my classroom back into shape.

I created several different lists to prevent complete memory loss! I printed them on bright paper so I don’t lose them as I am packing up! You can grab these printable lists for free here.

Whether you despise a space in your classroom or it just needs freshened up, it can be hard to remember how you wanted the area to change. I write my idea on a post-it note and than snap a picture of the space. You can look back at your ideas and the space at the time. If I am shopping, I can flip back through my camera roll to see how something new would look in the space.

A fresh clean classoom is so refreshing. A few extra steps before you close the door for summer makes back to school must easier! I would love to hear your tips and tricks for packing up too!

Emily Yerty

Emily Yerty

I’m a first grade teacher who believes in creating a classroom kids love and activities that keep them engaged all day!

26 Responses

    1. Thanks Romo! Can you believe I am still finding student teaching plans? Of course, there are some things I kept holding on to! Thanks for your feedback!


    1. Thanks for your sweet feedback Anisa. The font on the lists is "CC Jungle Queen" from Cara Carroll on TPT. I hope they help you stay organized 🙂


  1. Fantastic!!! I love being organized and function SO much better when I am. I just have to mak the time to actually DO all this. My files are what make me crazy!!

    1. Staying organized can be such a challenge! My files are a bit crazy too, especially by the end of the year! I am going to try a new system for my files soon! Right now I have lots of file folders for students and binder for curriculum. Thanks for your feedback 🙂


  2. I am so glad you found the ideas helpful La'Keisha! It's always refreshing to try something new. Best wishes as you move to a new grade! 🙂


  3. I love your organization! I especially love your library organization with the cute labels! Do you know where your library shelf unit came from? That would fit perfectly in my classroom 🙂


    1. Hi Danielle!

      Thank you so much! My big bookshelf came from IKEA. I got it my first year teaching so it has lasted almost an antire decade! I have smaller similar shelving units from Target that have the same size shelves. I use them for my students individual book bins. I hope you can find something for your classroom that you like! 🙂


  4. I just finished my first year of teaching middle school math, or should I say, I survived my first year. Now that I am accumulating things like calculators, small blocks for counting, rulers, and pencils I can see that I need to find a way to organize all these supplies. I especially appreciate the labeling aspect; maybe my 8th graders will be able to read the labels and put the calculators back where they belong at the end of class!

    Bo Tolbert @ HJS Supply Company

    1. Congrats on finishing your first year! The first year is sooo much work, but my first class will always have such a special place in my heart! I am glad to hear that in middle school kids still can't put everything away– How funny! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog 🙂

  5. I purchased your classroom labels. What’s the best way to print and put on bins? Did you tape them or print them on label paper? What size? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi! I used clear adhesive pockets for the smaller labels so I can switch them if needed. For the larger tubs of books, I just used tape on then back of the label to attach them. Thanks so much!

  6. Fabulous ideas!!! Can’t wait to implement these!! How do you store all your files/materials used for lessons?

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