The Magic of Tidying Up - Classroom Style!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

I have a colleague who often says, "My room looks like kindergarten just threw up!" 

School has just ended and this is what goes through my mind as I look around my classroom and realize it's time to pack it all in! 

The space does not look as it did in September - children have lived here, children have worked and played here. I'm reminded that this is what it should look like if I've been doing my job!

Sorting Your Stuff by Type

Nonetheless, I must get started and my first impusle is to pack up center by center.

Then I remember Marie Kondo and her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  While Marie is very good at cleaning up, I am very good at making messes!

So having her "principles" in my back pocket can be a very good thing when dealing with a year's worth of "vomit!"

If she were here, she would suggest that I not "tidy up" by center (oh no!), but rather grab all of one type of item, such as books and begin there.  My brain likes this way of thinking!  So I gather all the books and bring them to the floor.

end of year kindergarten

She suggests you do this so you can see how much you really have (uh oh!).  She would tell me I have too many! I would not tell her that I have more at home!

Instead of tackling the books right away (avoidance tactic!), I continue to bring like things together. I create groups of paper, writing utensils, charts, science stuff, math stuff, reading stuff, art materials, storage containers, storytelling props and a miscellaneous pile.

end of year kindergarten

At this point, my room is looking more like a full blow case of the flu rather than a 24-hour bug, but I'm in too deep to turn back now.

Tackling the Piles

Once everything is sorted, I tackle the easiest pile first - paper.  Not sure what clutter experts would say about this, but it works for me. I need to feel some success!

end of year kindergarten

Paper goes quickly as most of it is just recycled.  I find forms I was supposed to hand in (oops)!  

end of year  kindergarten

Next, I move on to writing utensils and I realize that I'm actually starting to enjoy the process.

I check markers to see if they are dried out.  I sharpen pretty pencils and think how these might be my "underwriting" tools for next year.  I admire colored pens I received as a gift and decide that these will be used for drawing stars on math papers.  I begin to create my supply order and add pencils, erasers, Sharpies, and dry erase markers to the list. 

I'm starting to see how focusing on one type of item brings clarity!  My typical approach to clean up would have been more of a "dart here, dart there" pattern, which means more Fitbit steps, but less efficiency.

Asking, "Does it Spark Joy?"

So I continue to tackle each category until all I'm left with is the books.  It is then that I'm reminded of another one of Marie's principles and that is to hold each and every item and ask, "Does it  spark joy?"

Worn out copies of No, David! with the "naked page" ripped out do not spark joy for me!  They go in the recycling bin.

Stacks of I Can Read books that consume precious closet real estate are given away to a colleague.

End of Year - kindergarten

The remaining books are sorted into categories such as fairy tales, song books, favorite authors, concepts, etc. and I reminisce about joyful moments with last year's class.

I see Ashlynn trying hard to read Tikki Tikki Tembo's full name and hear the kids saying Tsz Tsz Tsz like the monkeys in Caps for Sale. I realize I'm feeling grateful for these books which is what Marie calls, "thanking your belongings for their service."

When the very last copy of The Napping House was finally "put to bed," I felt the great satisfaction of a job well done.

End of Year Kindergarten

A Tidy Classroom

While I didn't "dress for the event" as Marie suggests, and at times had music playing (she prefers you give it your full attention), her principles were super helpful in doing a thorough job and making a dreaded task somewhat pleasurable!

Maybe this summer, she can help me "tidy" my basement! (Note: Never before have I used the words "tidy" and "basement" in one sentence!) 

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. It is tough work - I'm in the process of this (only I brought it all to my house to organize - the horror). What a great job you did! You must be really proud of yourself! :) Looks amazing!

    1. Yes it is! Good luck with your summer organizing - I have some to do around my house too!