Tips For Packing Up Your Classroom {with Core Inspiration}

Packing up an elementary school classroom for the summer brings a variety of emotions. While it’s exciting to gift, recycle, purge, and tidy the contents of your classroom with thoughts of a fresh new year on the horizon, its also quite a bit of work.

Rather than inefficiently working through the process before and after school, get your packin’ up done during school hours with the assistance of the most eager helpers in the world….your students. With a solid packin’ up strategy and a few helpful tools, you can make the most all those extra helping hands and be ready for summer when the last school bell rings (or pretty close to it).  

Student Portfolios

During the last days of the school year, every teacher has a moment when they think, “Maybe I should just take all this work I’ve been filing for student portfolios and send it home in the weekly folder.” Yes…so tempting. Then you realize you kept those unique art projects and written works for a reason…so your students can reflect on and celebrate the growth they’ve made this year.

Schedule a time when every student in class sorts through their personal portfolio. Make sure they have room to spread out. Give them the challenge of putting their work in chronological order and have them answer a few reflection questions along the way.

Projects and Art Work

Which of these projects are you most proud of?
What makes you proud of this project?
Which project would you like to improve?
What would you do to improve this project?
What can you do next year to make your “wall worthy” projects even more impressive than this year’s projects.

Writing Portfolio

Explain three or more skills you learned this year as a writer.
What part of writing is most challenging for you?
What part of writing comes most naturally to you?
Which writing piece are you most proud of?
Why are you proud of this piece?
Which writing piece would you like to improve?
What would you do to improve this piece?
What can you do this summer and next school year to grow as a writer?
What do you hope to learn as a writer next year?

Then, have them tuck their work inside an oversized envelope, a binder, a folder, or a box to take home and share with their family. Now your student files are empty and you can check something off your packin’ up list. Interested in prepping this quickly? Download my Editable Student Portfolio Toolkit

Tidy Up Team

Make a list of all the tidy up jobs in the classroom your students can do without teacher assistance. Take the tasks on that list and type up direct instructions for exactly how you want the job completed so you don’t have to go back and redo it. Print your instructions on cards or as a list that students can refer to any time they have a spare moment during the last two weeks of school. Watch your long list of tidy up to dos downsize dramatically.

I prefer the card approach in my second grade classroom because I always seem to have an eager helper that isn’t so detail oriented. Any jobs that aren’t completed to packin’ up standards can be placed back in the to do pocket for another helper to pick up. If you are interested in using the same approach, swing by my Teachers Pay Teachers Store for your set of Editable Tidy Up Team Cards.

Class Auction

During the process of tidying up each year, you will come across classroom resources that are outdated or not as precious as they once were. Gather those goodies up and host your very own class auction. Your students will happily take them off your hands and their parents will be thrilled with the new collection of treasures their child brings home (okay that second part probably isn’t true).

May your end of year packin’ run smoothly so you can spend a few extra moments of your afternoon enjoying the summer sun. You’re almost there! If you’ve tried any of the tips above, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hi Laura, Well, I can't try these ideas since our last day was Friday {I'm a bit behind reading on the blogs I follow). However, we are going to "have to" do portfolios with our students for the first time next year (I was so glad I'd already decided I wanted to give it a try!). I was wondering if you have the various sheets you used on your portfolio folders and the student forms available. I searched your TPT store & blog, and sort of searched on this blog (a "search" feature would be a nice addition, ijs) but couldn't find them anywhere. I especially like the ones for the students to do, and can see using them once a quarter. I would love to have them; any chance you could email them to me, please? Thank you all for sharing all your wonderful ideas; I always enjoy the posts.

    1. Hi Terri,
      Thank you for the comment. I don't have them up on TPT yet but I plan to get them ready to share in my store this summer. Using them each quarter is a great idea.
      Enjoy your summer!