Packin' Up! Tips from Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten + HUGE GIVEAWAY

Are you drowning in end of the year tasks with a to do list that's ten pages long? If so our Elementary Entourage team is here to share our favorite tips to help you prepare for the end of the year.  
To be honest, I am real OCD about organization so it is super hard for me to enlist the help of my kinders in packing up the classroom.  But in order to keep them engaged AND get everything done before the last day, I have to find a way for them to help with the most time consuming tasks.  So here are my top 3 ways to get the kids involved in checking items of my end of the year to do list. 
First, and a favorite task for my kids, is cleaning all of our math manipulatives.  When I was hired for my first teaching job I dreamed of bookshelves full of books, manipulatives and materials. However, truth was my classroom had heaps of dated curriculum and little to no real teaching materials. Add on a measly little classroom budget and I was quickly brought into the reality of life as a teacher buying loads of my own materials.  This meant that I invested my own money in sets of counters and math manipulatives for my students.
 Because I had to purchase them myself, I am super diligent about keeping them in good shape. So at the end of every year I have students sort them all back into the proper bins.  Then they give them a good scubbing!
 I fill up dishpans with soap, water, and scrub brushes for each table. Students scrub each piece and then we leave them out to dry overnight. 
 With over 20 bins of manipulatives, this would take me forever so having the kids help is the perfect solution!
 Next, is a task that most teachers have students help with at the end of the year, organizing all of the classroom books. Now not every kindergartner shares my love for organizing, so here is how I make this task less daunting. First, I gather all of my students in a circle on the rug.  Then I place a bin (or 2) of books from our library in front of each student so we can go through the organization together.

First I have students check the back of each book to be sure the number or letter matches the basket that they have.
 If there are any books that don't match they put them in the middle of the circle and I give them to the correct kiddo to add to their basket. 
As they look at each book, they also check for any books that need repairs.  If covers are torn, pages are falling out, or labels are missing they place them in our book hospital basket so I can fix them and return them to their places before the start of the year.
Next, I have students stack up their books with all of the covers facing forward and smaller books towards the front of the basket, larger towards the back.
And finally before putting the books back in the baskets, I have them wipe out the bottom of the baskets and remove any random items that may have made their home there. (I'm always amazed at the number of center pieces, pencils, mittens, socks, and who knows what else we find in there I kid you not)  

 And the final huge task I have students help with is organizing our math centers.  I have a center bin for each of the 5 main math topics I teach each year. (Number Sense, Geometry, Addition/Subtraction, Measurement, and Place Value)

Inside each bin I have the individual centers in ziploc bags. I have students sit around the carpet in the same way we did for the classroom library. We do one bin at a time and I pass out a bag or two to each student.
  All of my centers have a page that lists the materials needed for that center.  Students look at this list and check to be sure all of the pieces are there.  If anything is missing they tell me and I make a list of missing pieces so I can either find or reprint them for the next school year.
 If a center includes laminated pages that are used with a dry erase marker, I also have students clean them really well to get rid of all the stray marks that are left when they quickly clean up each day. 
And that's it! Even though I have to let go of my OCD tendencies for a few days, having students help with these three tasks really saves me a ton of time, so its worth it to have them help!

Thanks for sticking around to read all of my tips. Now for a giveaway! Be sure to enter to win these fabulous prizes to help you pack up and get ready for next year!

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