Set Up a Student Cleaning Station and Never Worry About a Messy Room Again

As art teachers, time is a precious resource. We joined this profession to spend our time igniting and inspiring the artistic passions of our students, not to clean up after them!

Learning to care for art-making tools and spaces is a valuable and necessary skill. Why not transfer that responsibility to your students? Watch this video to find out how to create a student-centered cleanup station for your art room!

How do you empower your students to take ownership of the maintenance of their art classroom?

What supplies would you add to your cleanup station?

3 months ago

Lindsey Moss

Lindsey Moss is an elementary art teacher in Yorkville, Illinois. She enjoys art history and finding creative and artistic solutions to educational challenges.


  • Laura Devin

    This is a GREAT idea!!!

  • Pat Barry

    Everyone at my tables has a job…pass out materials on the table/go get and return materials, collect artworks and pass them out, lightly wash small messes and dry, sweep the floor under your table. There is a small handled crate with a standard set of materials on every table: four or five of each= pens, pencils, glue and scissors; a communal snap-top container of crayons; plus two full sets of washable markers to share. Other materials are in labeled drawers, buckets, cabinets around the room. Each table, if needed that day due to wet or messy medium, has a package of wet-wipes for the table cleaner ONLY to use. A roll of paper towels hangs off the end table leg by that person on a coathanger holder. Under the table on the other end is (attached by a Command strip) a dollar store broom and dust pan. I ring a special bell and have a 25-second countdown on my computer/Smartboard or phone that counts down to a large colorful explosion, or funny GIF, or encouraging quote or message each day! If we have wet works, each child carries their own if able, or the responsible person who is the paper person delivers one-at-a-time to that tables designated drying rack. With consistent training, this process is very smooth by about the six weeks mark of school. Since I don’t vary the clean-up process unless a particular class needs it, the longer I have the students the less training is needed.

  • Chris

    In Middle School, I have specific jobs for each messy material that need to be done by each table group. Students discuss and sign a “job card” = putting their name next to the job commitment. I demonstrate the responsibilities of each job prior to choosing. For example with clay work: Bin – gets bin of tools to table, counts the tools (this makes sure nothing is left in the sink), wipes out gunk, covers slip container, returns to counter. Slip and Tools- makes sure slip container is in good shape. wipes down tools with paper towels. table washer-scrape and wipe down table. Table drier- removes clay dust.
    I keep all job cards stapled together per class. I tell each class – the next hour will be counting on you to do your job. If you don’t they will let me know. I will make a note on the job card and talk about it with you. I use sticky notes to flag tables and kids who are having issues keeping up the high standards…we all know kids are harder on each other! Basically, divide the duties into 4-6 jobs that will set up and clean up the room in a couple of minutes. Students appreciate knowing what is expected of everyone!