8 Helpful Tips for Packing Up Your ENTIRE Art Room

You’ve heard rumblings, but now it’s official: you need to pack up your art room…completely. Whether it’s remodeling, maintenance or a complete move, the idea of packing up an entire art room is overwhelming. The following is what I’ve started to do, and plan to do, as I begin the process of packing up my entire room. Nothing can be left on the floor, in the closets, or in the cupboards while my floors are redone over the summer. Hopefully the following list and downloads can help you wrap your head around this challenging task too.

art room pack up

1. Breathe.

Take breaks when needed, and if you need motivation, check out these tips!
keel calm

2. Make lists.

I made a prioritized list of what needs to be done, and also the materials I would need up until the last day of school. I streamlined these materials across grade levels, so I wouldn’t have to pack too much in the last week of school. Also, don’t forget to make a list of questions as you go, like, “What do I do with my kiln?”


Click the image below to download your own free, customizable “materials needed” template!

Materials Needed
Click to Download Free Customizable Template!

3. Purge as you go.

Alternately, you can do this before starting to pack. Not only is purging cathartic, but you can make donations or host an art teacher swap. But make sure you don’t acquire more stuff! I also plan to use sandwich-sized plastic zip-top bags to send home some used materials with students.

4. Develop a packing plan or system.

You may see yourself bouncing between this and #5. My plan is to go through my room by area. I listed these areas on a calendar, with a nice time-cushion at the end. If you’d like, click the image below to download your own customizable packing plan template.

Click to Download Free Customizable Template!
Click to Download Free Customizable Template!

5. Organize and sort ‘like’ materials.

This will make unpacking so much easier! Some materials may also have to go into climate-controlled storage. Make sure to note special instructions on the outside of the boxes!
organize by material

6. Label, label, label.

Our district employs a staff specialized in moving and storing furniture and materials. They have a fantastic system of worded and color-coded labels. You can develop a system of your own with blank labels from somewhere like Office Depot.

7. Plan ahead.

Bring home materials you’ll need at the beginning of the year next year! In case remodeling falls behind schedule, have a flexible curriculum plan for the first couple weeks of school. I plan on making a few versions of my digital calendar.  My options will include having my room and supplies, my room and no supplies, or no room and no supplies.
Weekly Calendar

8. Make a map or take photos.

Think about where you want your materials to go back into your room now, instead of during the craziness at the beginning of the year. I plan on taking pictures of my room, especially my storage spaces. I’ll print them off on normal typing paper and write directly on the papers.

Don’t underestimate the power and time-saving effect of extra hands.  See if you can recruit coworkers, friends, family members, or students. You can even assign them tasks from your lists to ensure the streamlined packing process you planned for stays on track!

What is your best tip for packing and unpacking?

Have you had to pack up your room before? What advice do you have for others in the same situation?

Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek

Alecia is an elementary art teacher in central Iowa who is passionate about teaching and reaching her students with an innovative and meaningful arts education.


  • Mr. Post

    Alecia – you are the queen of organization!
    My plan when I have to move my art room is much shorter…
    1. Throw stuff in boxes
    2. Swear at self in the fall for not doing a better job of organizing it last spring.

    • Ms. W

      sounds EXACTLY like my plan!! including many “where the *** is the ____” I love the idea of giving some used crayons and colored pencils to kids. Many of my students don’t have anything and would be very happy to take home what I may be tossing! Also, my best advice is let kids help! I have some fifth graders that love coming to clean and organize during their lunch hour. They can throw out all dried markers, sort paper – whatever my disorganized self needs
      done by June!

      • Alecia Eggers

        Ms. W – I’m definitely itching to get to my kids’ “chores” ;) The best part is that they LOVE helping!

    • Alecia Eggers

      Hahaha! You hit the nail on the head! I don’t want to have a crazier start to the year than necessary!

  • Ms. P

    I’m actually the opposite! I start collecting MORE supplies towards the end of the year in xerox boxes. I place four xerox boxes in our teachers lounge for other teachers to place used markers/sharpies, crayons/colored pencils, containers of any kind, and rulers.

    Core classes tend to have the funding to receive new supplies every year, so many of the colored pencils and crayons, as well as rulers and pencil boxes are barely used. As far as the used materials like old sharpies and washable markers, I use those to turn them into watercolors! They work great for bubble painting as well as dying fabric.

    Because I have the teachers pre-sort them, I just have to put the lids on and put them away to have boxes of “new to me” supplies next year!! :)

    • Alecia Eggers

      Ms. P – I just made boxes for crayon, marker, and “other” donations. Such a smart idea! Now all I have to do is tape them up on the last day of school!

  • Mary Rutherford

    We had a school rebuild two years ago and after 25 years in our old building I (the #1 art hoarder in the world) packed completely up. You can do this! Here are my tips:

    1. Start early but keep in mind that stacks of boxes in your room changes the dynamic for you and the kids. Keep things in a corner stacked neatly and tape some art prints over the side of the pile to keep it looking like a learning space. Remember some of our special needs kids don’t adapt well to change and a big pile of boxes can push them (and you!) over the edge.
    2. Don’t overfill boxes with heavy items – see #3
    3. Save soft light weight materials like yarn for topping off boxes that are not completely full. This keeps boxes from crushing when stacked.
    4. Pack liquids together and mark the box to lower the risk of movers turning it upside down, etc.
    5. Make an inventory as you pack. I numbered each box and made a corresponding index card. I taped the cards to the top of the box and wrote down every item as it was packed. When I taped the boxes shut the index cards went in a file box that I kept with me. When it was time to unpack (the day before classes started) I used the inventory to unpack only what I needed.
    6. Moving is painful so make it fun. I kept how many boxes I packed secret and held a guess the boxes competition. The class with the closest guess won an extra art time. Can YOU guess how many I packed? I’ll bet I have most of you beat!

    7. Turn it into a learning experience. I created a team building recycle sculpture project with all the emptied boxes. It was a great way to celebrate the move and start our new year in our new building!

    • Alecia Eggers

      Wow! I love all these tips! I will definitely be inventorying my boxes…I’d hate to lose one! I also love the idea of the recycled sculptures – thank you for sharing Mary!

  • Krista

    Thank you so much, Alecia! This article couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ll be sorting and packing up some of the items in my current elementary/middle school art room this year. Next year I will be teaching in our brand new Pre-K to 4 building, and middle school. So I am going to use your system to help me figure out what stays and what goes :-)

    • Alecia Eggers

      Krista, let me know if you discover something else helpful in the packing process!

  • Charlotte

    I used to leave a map for the custodians to put furniture back in the right place–rather than randomly strewn all over the room. They appreciated it because if they put stuff in the wrong place– THEY were the ones who had to come back and help me get it back in the correct place.

    • Alecia Eggers

      Charlotte – that’s a fantastic idea!

  • You are having a great organizational skills! You are doing great with the packing! I can learn something for you! Really good posts! Thanks for sharing! our website

  • Robertina

    These are some awesome ideas! Really helpful post! Thank you! visit website

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  • great post and very helpful tips

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  • Mrs. C

    Recently I’ve been informed I have to pack up my entire art classroom, because the principal wants to give my art room to the drama teacher. Yes, a perfectly adequate 1100 square foot art room with three sinks and tons of storage is being taken away from us. My estimate of the number of boxes I will need to move was 200. But my principal thinks 30 boxes is more than sufficient because according to her calculations that’s what it takes to move a three bedroom house. We are talking about a high school art class, that teaches all levels of art including AP Studio Art. The new room is 810 square feet and has only 1/3 of the amount of storage I have in my current room. Bringing in additional storage cabinets is out of the question because with the art tables I have we will have exactly two feet of space to walk around the room. Well actually that’s an exaggeration because in reality when kids are sitting down we will have to climb over chair in order to walk around the room. So, most of the supplies will have to be stored all the way across the campus. A five minute walk if you hurry up and have nothing to carry. I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe you have some suggestions.