15 of the Best Classroom Pack Up Hacks


Have you gotten the checklist yet? Mine came through email yesterday. You know the one I’m talking about… the “Classroom Pack Up” checklist. That wonderful list of all the things you have to do in order to receive your paycheck at the end of the school year. And is it just me or does it seem to get longer every year?!

There has to be an easier way to pack up your classroom. So, let’s share some Classroom Pack Up Hacks guaranteed to take less time! Because we all want to run out the front doors at 4:00 pm on the last day! 🥳

First, I want to say that you don’t have to do all of the packing up on your own. There are so many things on that list that can be done by the eager little helpers you see every day… YOUR STUDENTS!!! If you are willing to share the load, I know that they are jumping at the chance to pitch in and help pack up the classroom they have called home for the past school year.

But for those times when you just need to keep those little hands busy while you take care of the clean-up, organization, or filing, Education to the Core Premium is here to help! Hop on over and take a look at the engaging printables guaranteed to take your students some time, so you can get cracking on all the things the end of the school year brings! 


Classroom Pack Up Hack 1. Sort Math Manips

Place different bins on the floor and have your students sort the manipulatives into the correct ones. If you have student kits, they can sort their own personal set, or take care of all of the centers you’ve been using for math.

Better yet, they can set up your math manipulative kits for next year if you’d like. You can walk into next school year with your beginning-of-the-year math centers already put together. Make sure to add in your No Prep Centers mats and be all set.


2. Take Things Off of the Walls

Do you use command hooks, masking tape, or painter’s tape to hang up your anchor charts and posters? Your students can carefully take it off the back of your charts and lay them flat. This gets everything ready for you to store until next year. I even have my students put all of our Sound Wall Cards in order of instruction for the following year. This saves me loads of time sifting through all of those sounds while building my wall throughout the year.

I also hold a raffle and send home classroom anchor charts that we have created during the school year. The students take pride in the work that we’ve done and get really excited to have the chance to take them home and share them with their families. You don’t have to throw away or store all of that hard work.

And don’t forget to organize your calendar pieces for easy set-up at the beginning of next school year!


3. Pack Up Your Library

Did anyone call the book doctor? Ask a few of your more responsible students to sort through your book bins and classroom library. Have them put books into certain boxes based on your organizational structure. Fiction and non-fiction, themes, characters, etc.

Your students can also look for those books that need a little TLC and place them into a separate pile. Just like the anchor charts, you can either raffle them off and send your students home with a book, or tape them back together and save them for next year.


Classroom Pack Up Hack 4. Clean Furniture

It’s time to break out the wipes! Each student gets two wipes (one for each hand) and gets to work scrubbing tables, chairs, and shelves. Once those wipes are dirty, they come back for more. It is amazing how quickly your classroom sparkles when you have 20 little hands wiping everything down. You can also use shaving cream to scrub your tables. It gets your tables nice and clean while leaving your room smelling great.

If you are like me and have to stack your tables and chairs before leaving for the summer so that carpets can be shampooed and floors waxed, you will need a plan B to keep your students engaged after the furniture is cleaned. Keep a set of clipboards out and your students can either sit on the floor while working or send them outside to complete work. A Nature Scavenger Hunt is always a good activity to use for outdoor clipboard work.



Classroom Pack Up Hack 5. Trash the Markers

This is a favorite of my students when helping me pack up our classroom. Give each student a whiteboard and dump your basket of markers on the floor.

Students will grab a marker and see if it still works or not. If the marker is good, they put it back in the bucket, if not, they toss it in the trash. You can do the same thing with regular markers, but give your students each a sheet of paper to test the markers with.

At ETTC we strive to do better, both for the teachers and students that we serve, but also for the world at large. Once you have your good markers set aside, what should you do with the garbage ones?

If you are cleaning out your Crayola coloring markers, they have a recycling program where they melt down the plastic in the markers to create fuel. Help the planet while you pack up your classroom. There are also programs in some communities that take old dry-erase markers and send them off for a similar process. The best place to start would be to contact your local library.


6. Alphabetize High-Frequency Word Cards

This is a great one, especially for your higher-level kiddos in the primary grades. Without a doubt, my high-frequency word cards get all mixed up throughout the year, and we don’t teach them in alphabetical order. But, when starting a new school year it is great to have them organized in that order to grab quickly when planning lessons and small groups.

I give my students an alphabet card for quick reference and the high-frequency word cards and have them work in a group to put them in alphabetical order. This is a task that may take a while, so be sure to give them ample time to complete it. Or, set them up in a corner of the room or on a table that you won’t be needing for a few days. (If they finish it really quickly, I have them alphabetize my high-frequency word worksheets too.😉)


Classroom Pack Up Hack 7. Sharpen Pencils

If you happen to have any pencils left from this year (I know that I’m asking a lot… LOL) have your students sharpen them for next year. Put a couple of responsible students on this job. Give them the boxes of pencils and an empty basket and have them sharpen away. You will have pencils ready to go for your new students next year.


8. Organize Centers

This is a great way to save yourself time during the next school year and give your students some review. If you are like me and “kind of” organize centers as you put away the old and bring out the new during the school year, you may have pieces that are missing or mixed up. Have a day set aside to put your centers back into shape!

  • Put your students into teams of 3-4
  • Starting at the beginning of the school year, give each team a center
  • Their job is to sort the pieces of that center and make sure that everything is there
  • If a center is missing a piece, they let you know and you can write what is missing on a Post-it and put it with that center
  • Once they are done with a particular center, you zip it up and hand them another one
  • By the end of the day… all 120 of my centers are organized and ready for the next school year 🥳

How do I prep my centers?



Classroom Pack Up Hack 9. Stack Furniture

After you’ve done number 4, you can move on to this one. I save this hack for the last day of school. We call it “moving day” in my classroom. Our school cleans the carpets every summer, so all of our desks and shelves have to be on one side of the room when we leave. The students help bring their chairs over and stack them along the wall. If you have older students, they can help with their desks too. Mine just do the chairs and then smaller center items.


Classroom Pack Up Hack 10. “Scrap Monsters”

I love this nickname for those students who are in charge of making sure all of the trash is off the floor on the last day. You can also play “magic scrap” a few times while students are helping to throw away any trash that has been left on the floor or fallen under furniture that has now been moved. I also have these students check shelves to make sure no trash has been left there.


11. Puzzle Players

Do you have puzzles in your room? Your students can put them together to make sure all of the pieces are there. We have puzzle team contests to see which pairs can complete their puzzle the fastest. The winning team gets a small prize out of the treasure box or a sticker. While some of the students are putting together puzzles, you can have others sorting any other items you may use in STEM bins or centers. (Lego, blocks, Magnatiles, Lincoln logs, etc.)


12. Make a “Back to School” Box

A lot of shuffling happens during the summer.  Boxes are moved while buildings are cleaned. In some cases (like mine!) boxes are stored on a truck while major cleaning or renovations are completed. 

I always pack one box with my beginning-of-the-year materials.  I pull out all of my trade books, files, and any other materials I know I will need during the first few weeks of school and pack them separately.  This year, I plan to store this box at home, so that I know exactly where my materials are, and can easily get to them, even if there are mix-ups or delays getting the rest of my materials back to me.

Speaking of back to school… you can get yourself completely prepped before ever stepping foot into the school building. Purchase a membership subscription to Education to the Core Premium and you can save all of the worksheets you want to use those first few weeks of school. I recommend adding Phonics Posters, September Packets, and Morning Meeting Slides to your library.


Classroom Pack Up Hack 13. Purge!!!

Teachers can be notorious packrats (Hey!  No judgment here!)  It took me many years to realize that I do not need to save every single piece of twine or empty paper towel roll that comes my way.  Before you begin to pack, make sure that you are only packing things you will actually use.  This is a good opportunity to organize your things, and channel your inner Marie Kondo!


14. Reuse Bulletin Board Paper

If you are allowed to leave items on bookshelves instead of packing everything in cabinets and boxes, this is a great classroom pack-up hack for you! After taking down my bulletin boards, I use the paper to cover the shelves, ensuring that they are dust-free when I come back in the fall. It keeps the items from falling off of the shelves if they are moved during cleaning as well. 

Classroom Pack Up Hack 15. Label Everything

This may be the most important factor of all.  On the top and side of each box, I label exactly what is inside.  This makes unpacking so much more efficient. In addition to boxes, I use masking tape to write my room number on every single piece of furniture that belongs to my classroom.  You know how teachers are in the fall! If it is in the hallway, it is fair game!  A room number label will keep the hallway shoppers at bay!


Best wishes on closing up this school year. We know you have a million things to do at the end of the school year. Hopefully, these classroom pack-up hacks help save you precious time and sanity as you close up your classroom. If you have some time-saving tips for us that you swear by when packing up your classroom at the end of the school year, please share them in the comments below. We need all the help we can get at this time in the school year. 

Written by: Janessa Fletcher & Nashella Zarek


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