Move It, Move It - Day 3 (Packing and Unpacking Tips from Teachers Are Terrific)

Hey y’all! I am so pleased to be a guest blogger for Stephanie at The Learning Chambers.  I shared with Stephanie recently that I had moved my classroom a few years back and then also last summer. Hopefully this post will give you some ideas for organizing your move- whether it’s happening right now or in the near future! You never know!

Let me give you a little background first! I am the STEM Lab teacher for grades 3-5 in a northern Alabama school. This job was an inspiration from my fabulous principal. She casually mentioned it one day in 2013 and I pursued it. I had taught third grade for 17 years and felt it was time for a change. It has been an amazing journey! I see every class in the school once a week for an hour. The STEM projects and activities have been such a great learning tool. The biggest challenge for me, though,  was shutting down a third grade classroom and setting up a lab!

My plan for this post is to show you some photos and talk especially about things I know worked for me. I also have the move from a few years ago to think about in helping you with your move. (Our move a few years ago involved our entire school! We all moved out of a building that was then torn down. We were housed in a temporary location for an entire school year, and then we moved into a new building!) 

So, let’s get to moving!

The first thing I had to do to get moved was clear out my third grade classroom!

 photo 1button_zpsb14898cc.png

 Helpful Hints I Can Give You:
You need boxes! You need boxes that you can get your arms around when lifting. That means something small enough to hold things, but not so large the box gets too heavy. The perfect box is the one that reams of paper come in. Try asking Staples or Office Depot to save those for you!

   Have a plan for cleaning out! Set up about 6 boxes and label them. I had these areas to start with: Things to Take Home, Things to Move to the New Room, and the Trash Can. I put a couple of boxes in each area. Those boxes were then labeled more specifically.

Place items in those boxes logically. Think about unpacking as you go! What should go in the same box as construction paper? What should go with office supplies? Here’s a great tip from the BIG move our entire school did a few years ago. As I packed I numbered each box. Then before I taped the boxes up I made a list of what was in each box. I kept those lists in a notebook that I referred to often as I unpacked. It was a massive list, but when we arrived at our temporary building we didn't have room to unpack everything. About half my boxes were stored in a nearby closet and I would use my lists to know which numbered box to find when I needed something! Keep an inventory list!

  CLEAN OUT! This is the perfect time to get rid of stuff. You know they say if you have not worn something for over a year, you should get rid of it. Well, this same theory works with packing up your classroom! If you have never used it, throw it away. If you can’t remember the last time you used it, throw it away. If you used it and didn’t like it, then why did you save it? Throw it away. It goes against every fiber of our little teacher bodies, but throw stuff away.

    Think about what you will need when you get to your new space! As you are packing have one special box that is just for things like a hammer, nails, string, glue, scissors, hooks, Velcro, tape, staples and stapler…. All those things you will need as you are trying to get going in your new space. You can waste a lot of time looking for staples when you need them!

Time! This is going to take time y’all. If you don’t give yourself a good time frame to work in for packing everything up here’s what will happen. You will just start throwing things in boxes with no plan and later you will not be able to find anything. It took me at least three full days to get my room to look 
like this:

 photo 2button_zps9f06e018.png  

Get a cart!  Your school probably has some kind of rolling cart you can use to get your things from one place to another. It will save your back and muscles (or your significant others's) to use a cart.
Here's the one I used a lot as I traveled from my third grade class to the Science Lab:

 photo 3button_zps8574741b.png

Alright, now let’s think about what to do when you get to your new space!

Look around. It seems silly at first, but you have to get a feel for your new space. What is the traffic flow going to be? Where will you place your desk? What about your reading nooks, guided reading table, math center, carpet and easel, and all those other things we use? Just stand in your room and plan it out. Sketch it! It will help you decide where to place things.

   Prioritize! When I walked into the Science lab I probably stood for a good thirty minutes just looking at all the cabinets and trying to decide where to start. I decided I would start with my own personal space. I have heard that when you move into a new house you should always get the kitchen ready first. That’s the heart of the home and you will feel better when it is operating! So, I made my personal corner cozy first.

 photo 4button_zps0c26a670.png  

 The added benefit is that this made me unpack the box I had labeled as essentials. This gave me easy access to all those tools and goodies I would need to start decorating!

        CLEAN! It’s sad, but you might have to clean before moving your stuff into the new space. The condition of the inside of cabinets and shelves may surprise you. Bring some rubber gloves and 409 spray and clean it. You will feel better moving your things into a nice place.
Here's what I found when I was ready to tackle the lab shelves and cabinets (notice the clutter on the counter tops and on top of the cabinets): 

 photo dd006c09-e08b-4cac-a45e-43f017366bb5_zps9ff29af0.png

     What about the OLD STUFF in the ROOM! Sometimes we move into a space that is full of things that were left behind. I suggest you go through those things and decide what you can keep and toss the rest! 

 photo 6button_zpsff77ff79.png  

What you are seeing on those lab tables are the contents of all those cabinets. I emptied them, cleaned the shelves, and then organized the supplies. (How I organized all those supplies would take another entire blog post!)

Time to unpack! By now you will have decided where your areas are going to be, the shelves are clean, and you can go to the labeled boxes 
 and start unloading!   It’s so fun to start putting your personal things in their new homes!

DECORATE!  The space you have moved into may have bare walls and boards and you will have to start working on your chosen theme. Here’s a great idea for bulletin boards- PAINT THEM!

 photo 7button_zpsf883eba0.png

 It’s easy to do and keeps you from having to cover them every year.

ADD YOUR PERSONALITY! Add some personal touches and the new space is yours!

 photo 8button_zpsdb81cd30.png 

If you are moving your classroom I wish you the best. Just know it takes time! Take the time to do it! Organize as you put things away. You'll be glad later that you did!

If you are setting up a classroom for the first time I have some advice for you! Recently I had a conversation with a large group of teachers and we put together a list of all those really weird things that teachers accumulate over the years. These are things we actually use occasionally and we know we need. I compiled a master list of all those items and you can get it *FREE* by clicking on the thumbnail below! You can also click {HERE}!

 photo 41ad33c4-264c-4a83-8bc6-94388181a3e7_zps36e29946.jpg

Thanks so much Stephanie for giving me this great opportunity to guest blog for you!
post signature


  1. Some great tips there - thanks! I had to move classrooms last year and the classroom was in a different building - your advice on manageable boxes is definitely important - I overpacked and couldn't even lift some of my boxes myself!
    Growing Little Learners

    1. Thanks Pixie Anne! Moving is traumatic. In my school right now there are ten teachers switching to new classrooms! They need to read my list!
      Teachers Are Terrific!

  2. Carol you are fabulous!!! I have bookmarked this article just in case. I love your space and think being a STEM lab teacher would be amazing!
    Mrs. Spriggs’ Kindergarten Pond

  3. Hi Carol, I've never had to move classrooms, but if I had to, I would definitely follow your instructions.
    They'd save me time and energy!
    Thanks for sharing your tips!

    - Lucy


Back to Top