5 End-of-the-Year Rituals Revealed

It’s that time of year again.  Spring is here, students are bouncing off the walls, and you find yourself day-dreaming of lazy Summer days.  But if you are like most art teachers, you may also be dreading the end of the year as you think about packing up and cleaning the art room.

Well, we are here to help with 5 end-of-the year rituals to get your room organized, cleaned and ready for summer vacation!

1. Check with administration to see if there are any specific or special requirements necessary to close your room at the end of the year.  I have had to pack my entire art room into boxes (including a tuba!) for renovations and cover all bookshelves with paper because my room was going to be used for summer camp.  You definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute to tackle a project of this magnitude, so be sure to ask ahead of time.

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2. Create a list of what you need to accomplish before the end of the year.  Spring is full of art shows, special assemblies, field days, etc.  Creating a list helps you stay organized and remember all the little projects you have going on in this busy time.  If you take the time to make a list, you can spend every free minute ticking things off.

3. Get students on board.  As you year winds down, let students help prepare the art room for summer.  As students finish early they can test markers, sort out broken crayons or even clean.  You could also have students volunteer during their recess time to help with projects.  I have found that 4th graders in particular are wonderful art room helpers.

4. Break the work into chunks.  Maybe you want to tackle your clay room one day and your paper supply the next.  If you have a plan, you are less likely to be overwhelmed and will get more accomplished in less time.

5. Be clear about what “donations” you are willing to accept from colleagues.  You certainly don’t want to pass up on unused glue sticks, but do you want garbage bags full of broken pencils and crayons?  A quick email or list in the lounge alerting colleagues of the items that you want goes a long way.

What do you do to get your room ready for the summer? 

What is the craziest thing you have been asked to do?

Heather Crockett

Heather is AOE’s Project Manager and an expert in differentiation, curriculum development, and assessment. She is a veteran teacher in the art room and at the graduate level.


  • Ever since I read this article I have been frantically cleaning and organizing my room. It’s almost as if I was in denial that I needed to start and your article motivated me… THANK YOU, I needed it!

    • Hopefully all your hard work will pay off and you will be ready to walk out the door on the last teacher work day :)

  • Mrs.C

    My yearly end of the year rituals include copying the months of May and June and writing in all the trips, programs, etc… on it as well as mapping out the project we are currently working on and any other projects we have time for so I don’t get caught at the end with half done projects! I also clean out and organize so It makes it easier when i have to unpack new supplies in August and set my rooms back up. I put up my Sept. bulletin boards before i leave and just cover them with newspaper. that way in Sept I just take down the newspaper and they are fresh and ready!

    • Smart plan! With field days, field trips, graduations and “extra events” it is hard to squeeze everything in. I have also found that one or two classes might miss more than the others. This is a great way to make sure your curriculum is designed specifically for each class.

  • If I have a lot of broken crayons by year’s end, sometimes I have students who are finished with their work peel these crayons (if they want to volunteer for such a job). Then I’ll crush and melt the “naked crayons” in silicone baking trays, making funky multi-colored crayons as (free) end-of-year prizes, for use next school-year, etc.

  • Our last day was Thursday, and I ended up having too many major projects at the end of the year. I will be going back all next week at least, if not the next week as well. These are good ideas, though I probably take more of everyone else’s junk then I should.

  • Diane

    My last day was Thursday also, I have asked parents to bring large empty snack jars the kind you get at Sams club or Cosco, I use these throughout the years by sorting markers(by color at the end of the year to be able to see what colors still work), sponges, stamps, beads….etc. I can see everything, the colors are attractive in the room, everything is accessible to the students next year, I can display them above my cabinets(up high) kinda like merchandising!

  • Jesscia

    I used to have to pack all of my things. I was moved from a classroom to a cart ( lived out of the boxes that year). One thing I learned make sure you label them so you know what is where!! Then I moved from the cart back to a classroom with limited storage and had to pack the following year for changing schools. I packed every year, all the teachers did they moved rooms all the time and one year the school was painted. It was hard work, but we got it done. I was almost always the last one to be check out. This year I’m hoping not to have to pack since I will not be moving schools, or rooms, and I will be working over the summer, since I got hired so late in the summer last year, I didn’t have time to really organize and there was lots (and I mean lots) of back stock (so much money down the drain some wasn’t usable anymore).

  • Annmarie

    Another list (together with my END OF YEAR list) I make the last weeks of school is a NEXT YEAR list. (Both are on brightly colored paper so they stand out in a pile!) This includes what supplies I already know I need to order, new procedures, materials, or projects I want to try, different ways to rearrange tables/materials, storage needs, etc. The NEXT YEAR list gets put in the same box as the most important thing I take out at the start of every new year: my chocolate jar. :)

  • Heidi Guembel

    I have a “September” basket. It holds all my lesson plans for September for all grades, any reproductions or reference materials I need for the lessons. Also a list which has been ongoing from the current school year of changes I want to make in September such as new seating arrangements, new materials to try, etc. I also find June so hectic that I have worked right up to the last day, and stuck some last minute things in whatever closet had space….then had trouble finding them in September! Now, I write down where I stuck these items. All of this goes into the basket….and I take the basket HOME with me! Any ideas, articles or books I buy over the summer go in the basket. In September when I get back to my classroom, my basket becomes my best helper!!

  • Tina Atkinson

    I put up all my back to school boards and cover them with paper so when I get back I can just pull of the paper and get to work! I also use plastic table cloths from the dollar store to cover shelves near the floor so the wax won’t cause damage!