Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Packing for Summer

I don't know about all of you out there, but every year, I have to pack up my classroom---for a variety of reasons.
  • I share a classroom with the before/after school program and in years past, all the summer program students from all 5 elementaries were in my classroom all summer!! YIKES! Not ideal. This is the first year that they will not be in my room....and not in the building....so it's nice to not have to worry about that this year.
  • Although I'm a contracted teacher like my other colleagues, I work in a State funded program, and thus they have their inventory and I have mine. We have to separate and inventory separately each year.
  • I've moved rooms every year (except for the current school year!--I got to stay in my current room 2 consecutive years)----so I'm typically just used to moving and figure it's bound to happen again! Roll with it! :)
  • ...And this year...the program I teach is changing, most likely to a part time position - and I would like to stay full time...so that means possibly more changes and a potential move within the building for me! I really have no clue yet. I'll find out sometime this summer.  :)
I have a friend of mine in another district that has to move her classroom (all her belongings)---home every summer. It can't even stay in the classroom/building. I did that ONCE....I didn't know where I was going the following school year and my entire classroom sat on a flat bed trailer in my garage until August! I am so thankful I don't have to take it all home each summer!

But....my point is....as teachers, moving and packing at the end of the year happens to all of us in some capacity. I have found a system that works really well for me as a PreK-K teacher with TONS of furniture, toys, and educational materials that I have personally purchased liked so many of us do! My system has made packing and un-packing pretty efficient---considering, packing and moving a classroom is no small feat----it's like a second home/apartment!

So....here's my secret. Ha! Ready? Invest in these....LOTS of these.............

That's right...Rubbermaid totes. Of course, I like them all matching!
This is a small stack of what I have packed thsi year. Last year, nearly 1/2 a wall was stacked and lined with these. Did it cost the equivalent of my first car I ever owned? Probably. But, when you have moved as much as I have (even within the same building), it's been worth the investment! I am able to keep everything so organized. Why do I need so many? Well---that's the key to staying organized and being able to un-pack and keep track of everything so efficiently. Read on...

You will see that I have labeled the tote with my last name, and at the request of my administrator, to mark it "personal property" so that if the program changes, or my classroom location changes over the summer...maintenance will know where to move my personal belonging vs. the program inventory.

The MOST IMPORTANT TIP that I have for you is to use designate a tote to each area of your classroom. Some of my centers use up to 3 totes. I label the lid to correspond with the classroom center that it contains. Here are my centers & what I label my totes (as you PreK-K teachers will be familiar with!)
  • Math/Fine Motor
  • Art
  • Writing
  • Science
  • Dramatic PLay
  • Listening
  • Sand/Water/Sensory
  • Library
  • Calendar/Group Area
  • Blocks
  • Playdoh
  • ABC
  • Puppets/Props
  • Music/Movement
  • Puzzles/Games
  • Teacher Area (Desk/Closet stuff)
  • Teacher Resource Books/Theme Binders/Curriculum
  • ...and of course, there are always random totes for spare clothing, bins/baskets/containers, etc.
So---I have found that packing my classroom according to centers makes un-packing really easy! In late summer, when I come back to school, I set up my classroom floor plan. I decide where I want everything (my teacher work area, tables, centers, bookshelves---everything!) before I un-pack. Then, I take each tote and place it in the center that it belongs with.

Fianlly, I can easily un-pack one center at a time---staying focused on that ONE center/area of the classroom until it is complete and I move to the next. It really keeps me on task and not distracted my starting one box that goes here, another that goes there, and so on. And, when I open a tote...everything is already sorted so that items are not taking me to various parts of the room hopping all over like a 5 year old with espresso and a new puppy!

I hope that this moving tip makes your summer move or end of the year check-out go as smooth as mine do now!


  1. I feel for you! I just got home from Day 2 of packing and moving. I have resisted investing in huge tubs in years past, but I am going out to buy some tomorrow! It just makes moving so much easier!


  2. It is not easy being a teacher and be entailed to pack, move/change classrooms and then unpack every year. You probably are all looking for ways on how to make it easier and you have managed to find an efficient way my friend so, bravo! What you just figured out is brilliant and I’m sure a lot of teachers will be making use of this to make storing, moving and unpacking as easy as possible.

    Ericka Muldowney