How to Manage Your Crazy Kindergarteners at the End of Art Class

Clean up in the art room is always chaotic, but during Kindergarten or 1st grade, the craziness can be amplified times 10. When the teacher comes to pick up his or her class and the room is half cleaned up with students running around, it makes you, the art teacher, look bad and FEEL bad. On the flip side, ending class on a calm note can provide the opportunity for you to review the concepts taught and conduct quick formative assessments to guide your instruction for next time.

I share my secret to making this all work in the video. Let me know what you think!

What are some tips for cleaning up with young students?

How do you end art class? Any great routines you can share? 

5 years ago

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Ms. Kirstin Odum

    Thank you! I’m struggling with this right now- I have 30+ kindergartners coming to Art at once. After Kinder yesterday, I was just exhausted for the rest of the school day! I know it will get better, but right now I’m a bit less positive.

    • Yes, Ms. Kirstin, it will get better! One chaotic class period in a day (or more) can burn us out quickly. I hope you give this a try, I found it really helped me.

    • Dubsgirl

      In my district visual art classes are only available to K-2 grades as of this year. I will be at four schools each week. The upper grades will be sorely missed, believe me, as we slog through the beginning of the new school year woes. Thanks for this tip – I have to share a room at one school so it will be a quieter transition and less disruptive for my colleagues and their students.

  • Megan Darling

    I do a game of Simon Says at the end of art. This gets them to listen and quiet down. Of course, it is FUN too. I also do one table at a time for cleanup. This makes cleanup time go smoothly. Never thought of reading a book at the end of class. Thanks for the tip.

    • The book REALLY calms everyone down and even the students still working at their seats crane their necks to listen. It’s blissfully quiet. Ahhhhh

  • Teresa D. Euken

    I love using this chore chart with my students. To go along with it, I have taken masking tape in the four colors on the chart and wrapped the legs of each table with those four colors. If the leg to your right is orange, you are the cleaner, if your leg happens to be green, you are the “shoosher” (in charge of keeping your table quiet) and so on. It works really slick.

  • Guest

    Another item that I love in my classroom is my flying pig. I picked this up while on vacation for only $8. It is priceless. If my students line up quietly, in a “check 5 line”, they get to watch the flying pig. It has a switch on it and it actually flys around in circles when turned on. They get super quiet “when pigs fly.” When I taught in a kindergarten classroom for many years, this was a wonderful tool and I brought it onto my art room.

  • Lynn

    If you have an iPhone, there is an app for”The Quiet Game”. After they are lined up, I put on the app and they are QUIET! The voice on the app even tries to fool them into talking by asking them questions. If they stay quiet they can make it to level 2. They LOVE it! I had a kindergarten class stay quiet for 4 minutes!!!!

  • Cristi

    Hmm.. posted a comment, but the replies monster seems to have eaten it.

  • Cristi

    Now it seems to be working. what I do is as soon as clean-up is done, I have them show me that they are ready to line up, with one hand over their mouths and one in the air. The hand over the mouth prevents talking and the hand in the air gets the attention of those who might not have heard me ask for their attention the first time. Once they are ready, I call tables to line up (my tables are color coded.) We say the rhyme “My hands are hanging by my sides. I’m standing straight and tall. Mouths are closed. Eyes look ahead. I’m ready for the hall.” Then they stand with “bubbles caught” to prevent talking. I tell them that we’re going to see if we can be so quiet their homeroom teacher walks past us. (Some of our teachers play along!) On the way out of the room, I remind them to tip-toe through the hallway and sneak back to their classroom.

  • Marie E

    I think with kinders it’s important to break up the time, too- 50 minutes in my classroom is a long time for them. I often have them clean up earlier than I would have other grades clean up to make sure we weren’t moving around like crazy at the very end! Then we sing a song together, or do a kinesthetic activity related to our art lesson (like make our bodies/lines straight lines or curvy lines). When cleanup time is called in ALL my grades- each table is responsible for tidying their supplies and art folders on their table, and only when all tables are ready and hands are folded do I have my weekly table helpers go around to collect. I have a tiny room that gets chaotic if too many kids are up and around!

  • Holly

    I have students play the “Line Up Game.” When students are finished cleaning up their areas, they sit down at their seat with their heads down and thumbs up. I select one student from my class list to be the “chooser.” That student must tap all of their thumbs to line them up. The kids love playing this game(even my 6th graders!).

    • Shawsha Newcomb

      Great idea! I’m going to try it with kindergarten today. I think they will love it!

  • This is a good help for those teachers who wanted to have the best thing to do instead of getting mad. It is really effective and can surely give you a good result as a teacher.