The Clean-Up Routine That Transformed My Art Room

It’s not news that at the end of the year, our routines and expectations begin to fall by the wayside. In fact, I recently had to review my most basic rules, as I noticed a decline in my students’ behavior and level of responsibility in the art room. They were even forgetting things like raising their hands!

If you’re in the same boat, I encourage you to continue to model, reteach and reinforce your routines and expectations through the end of the year. In today’s video, I’ll share the straightforward clean-up routine that has helped keep my kids on track each time they come to art.


How do you review expectations and routines?

How do you combat a decline in behavior at the end of the year?


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.


  • Keri

    This is great! Do you have a pdf or jpg of your clean up chart?

    • Alecia Eggers


  • Teresa Mallett

    More info. Please. All grades? How many min. For class and cleanup.? How does the noise monitor table work?

    • Alecia Eggers

      Hi Teresa,

      I apply this for each grade K-6. I have each grade for an hour a week (Kindergarten only a half hour). After the routines have been learned, I generally leave about 5 minutes to clean-up. This of course varies with materials, some pokier classes :), and the amount of any special clean-up instructions.

      The noise monitors help maintain appropriate volume by kindly and respectfully reminding peers to be using the appropriate level of voice by walking over to their tables. They are the only group that has permission to be up and moving about. We work on a scale of 0 (no voice) to 5 (out of control). I use this chart from Theresa G.:

      Also within Noise Monitor duty is the distribution of the table trophy. The table trophy goes to those tables who are on task throughout work time, complete and follow directions, or even get cleaned up first. I do make sure that the noise monitors aren’t so consumed with distributing the trophy, that they don’t accomplish anything. If that’s the case, I take over trophy distributing. There isn’t always necessarily a trophy table every time. Trophy prizes include positive behavioral support tickets, special opportunities like lining up first, and if I’m feeling generous, sometimes even small pieces of candy (gotta keep ’em guessing! ha)

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Thank you!

  • Erin Mikels

    I was curious how you had the table helpers labeled? Do you have a sticker on the table where they sit, or how do the students know what their responsibility is, and how do you rotate jobs?

    • Alecia Eggers

      Hi Erin – great questions!

      I have four table groups in my room. 8 seats at each table. Each table has a different color of chairs around it: blue, green, yellow or red. (This isn’t to say you couldn’t hang your table group designations from the ceiling, or tape it to the middle of the table, if you don’t have colored chairs). At the beginning of the year this year, we played a “getting to know the art room (again) bingo”. Each of the jobs that are assigned to tables each week had it’s own box on their bingo boards. So I introduced each job at the beginning of the year through bingo, and we took a few extra minutes those first few weeks to flow through the job requirements and streamlined the process and routine throughout class and at clean-up. The best routines take lots of practice (sometimes we still practice – ha!) The cards with the job descriptions actually have velcro pieces on the back, so I just rotate the jobs downward on my poster each week.

      Let me know if you have any further questions! Thank you!

      • Erin Mikels

        Could I get a sample or copy of that bingo game??? That sounds like a lot of fun for the kidos. I also love getting the kids’ routine established in the first month and revisit it throughout the year.

        For years I have put a colored dot on the kid’s folder (each student has a portfolio that they keep their papers, and unfinished artwork organized) that shows what color of helper they are for the day; red, yellow, blue… Then I have a chart that rotates; however, I have been lazy and haven’t done the rotating part as much. I have found rotating is more annoying than anything and would rather have something ready for the kids to definitely know what their job is for the day. I like how you have established the routine and the kids sound like they know what they are to do as soon as they come in to the room.


        • Alecia Eggers

          Hi Erin – I just went to one of the websites that generate various bingo cards for free (they even mix up the spaces for you!), and had each square was a one word or two word descriptor of my topics like expectations, a routine to model and practice, something new for the school year (like posters or materials), or something else I thought would be essential they know the first few weeks of school. So like I had each of the jobs from the table helpers poster be it’s own square, I would draw it out randomly, the kiddos would mark the boards and we would talk about it briefly. Another was that I rearranged the activity area for when students were done: so I simply called it “Activity area” in the space and when drawn out, briefly explained and answered any questions.

          Hope that helps!

          • Diana

            Hi Alecia,
            Love the bingo idea. So DURING bingo you will give brief explanations to kids about the items on bingo cards such as what one of your art jobs entails? How many times might you play bingo with a class? For how long? The bingo cards need to be laminated to be re- used? Thank you.

          • Alecia Eggers

            Hey Diana,
            Yes! I gave the descriptions of each topic in each square when it was called. We played with the same board until all the squares will filled…I didn’t really think it through because all students ended up with blackout and bingos in the end. Which isn’t necessarily bad, but it kind of defeated my purpose of bingo ;). If I were to do it again, I would definitely have more topics than bingo spaces. I would definitely recommend laminating them! Let me know if you have anymore questions! :)

      • Shelley Henrion

        Erin, Thank you for all the wonderful information and for sharing! I can’t quit picture how the jobs are dispersed. I have 6 tables / 4 chairs each. Looking at your chart you have a Blue, Green, Yellow and Red table (8 chairs) Does the whole blue table (8 students) do one job (ie neat freak) for the entire class? and the yellow table does another job (8 students – Materials master) OR do you somehow have all 4 jobs and each team of 8? Are there some students who do not have a job for the week? Thanks for helping me better understand. Shelley

        • Shelley Henrion

          Does anyone know how a reply comes back from the post. Is it e-mail? I’m not sure I can re-find this post if I close it. Thanks!

        • Alecia Eggers

          Hi Shelley, I’m not sure if you meant your question for Erin or myself, but I can give you the answer for what I do! Yes, each of my tables (blue, green, yellow, red) have a job each week. All students at that table complete the tasks that belong with the job (usually 6-7 students). Hope that helps!

  • Sarah Clare

    Hi Alecia. I’ve been looking for a clean up routine that will work with 29 K-6 classes and your system seems straightforward. Can you tell me, what are your class job assignments besides “Materials Masters” and “Noise Monitors”? Would you mind including descriptions? Thank so much!

    • Alecia Eggers


      I have four tables with 8 of the same colored chairs around each: blue, green, yellow, and red. I am able to shift around the jobs each week because there is velcro on the back of the descriptions. So, red table knows to check their job next to the red paint card.

      Noise Monitors: Remind about appropriate voice levels; dismiss tables

      Neat Freaks: Count baskets (I have caddies with 8 pencils, 8 erasers, and 3 sharpeners on each of the 4 colored tables); check tables, floors, materials shelf, sinks, drawing area – leave art room better than it was before.

      Materials Masters: Hand out and collect materials neatly and nicely

      Directions Experts: Pay extra special attention to directions so you can help to answer classmate’s questions

      Let me know if you have any other questions Sarah!

      • Sarah Clare

        Thank you so much! This really helps. And because I’m pretty psyched about my wit, I’ll share the sign I just made for my trash can. :)

        • Alecia Eggers

          Hahaha love it!

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  • tartseam

    How long do allow for the clean up to happen? 10 minutes? less? more?

    • Alecia Eggers

      I allow for 5 minutes, but while students are still learning the routine I start with 8 and work my way down. I don’t usually go lower than 5

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