Clean Up Strategies for the Art Room

Clean Up Strategies & Routines for the Art Room: AME 132



It’s 5 minutes before the end of art class, the room is a mess. Some kids are finishing up their projects, others are not. The clock is ticking and you know what comes next… clean up time.

What do you do next? That depends on you… today on Art Made Easy, I help you outline the best clean up routine for YOU.

Clean Up Strategies for the Art Room

That little phrase always puts me in panic mode. Why? Because I didn’t have a system… at least, not one in which I identified as sound.

I’ve always been honest about this failing of mine. I like to create not clean!

This use to worry me and make me feel like a fraud. Real art teachers know what to do! They have their classroom procedures used control.

What I know now that I didn’t know then…

But lucky for you, I have a few strategies that will help YOU identify the best clean-up routine for your art room.

There are three phases of clean up:

1. Getting Attention: How do you transition from actively working on projects to stopping? Do you ring a bell? Play a clean up song? Yell? Dim the lights?

2. Cleaning Up: What do you want the kids to do? Why? What will help you the most?

3. Exiting: Do you need time to offer rewards or calculate class points after the clean up? Exit games? Or do you just need them to get out.

All three parts are unique to you. YOU get to decide how each phase looks for your classroom. The kids will respond to whatever YOU decide.

The real trick is to do it consistently.

I’ve found that there are 4 different styles of teaching art.

Figuring out which style fits your personality can help you decide on a way to get your students’ attention, and that style will flow into the rest of your clean up routine. It’s all about knowing what is best for YOU and sticking to it.

The Manager:

This is the art teacher who manages every minute of an art session: entering, transitioning, demonstration, creating, etc.

They often use repetition as their classroom management tool—few bells and whistles.

This is the teacher who thrives on managing expectations by never deviating from the plan.

Clean up for the Manager often looks controlled, orderly and efficient. In fact, a good allotment of time is spent on transitions.

The Manager does this systematically, so notes or complex charts are often not needed.

The  Minimalist:

This is the art teacher who likes to keep things very simple: as few steps as possible.

1. Art on Rack

2. Brushes & Paint on Sink Counter

3. Tools in Tray

4. Recycle paper

The Minimalist gives the students simple tasks and oversees the execution.

Clean Up Strategies for the Art Room

The Counter:

This is the teacher who incorporates countdowns into every facet of the art sessions.

Counting how many paper scraps children pick up or counting down to get kids to pay attention.

There may be overlaps between the Manager and the Counter personalities, however the counter uses numerically based tactics.

The Performer:

This is the teacher who relies on fun antics and high engagement to get their kids excited about clean-up.

There may be a song, dance moves, hand drawn clean-up posters, and/or props to get the party started.

There’s often a reward system to motivate the students.

This takes a lot of brain power and work if you aren’t naturally gifted in this area.

I have included a helpful poster that may work for you and your class room. You can find the poster at the end of this blog post as a free PDF download.

Clean Up Strategies for the Art Room


 – How different clean up methods work for others in their classroom

– The three phases of a clean up routine

– Four teaching styles and different strategies that work for them

– The importance of finding your style and fitting it into every aspect of your teaching method




Download your free cleanup checklist poster by clicking the button below.

Add your name and email and we’ll email it straight to you!

Click here to subscribe

Art Made Easy 130: How the Enneagram Broke Me Wide Open

Clean Up Strategies for the Art Room

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Hend Altemimi

    Being a member of Deep Space Sparkle had made teaching for me much easier. Your lessons and useful tips have always been a blessing! I think I am a manager & a counter 🙂

  • Silvia Betancourt

    Thank u for your support

  • Kara Sabatella

    Great podcast Patty !!! clean up time has always been my nemesis….. hardly ever feeling like I have smooth sailing clean up ship… … and sometimes more like a shipwreck :0 But at least the process of creating and fun vibe with the children makes up for it 🙂 When children are so engaged and can’t pull themselves from their project it always warms my heart at the same time my brain says…”oh my gosh!! we have to clean up!!”

  • leslie.banta

    I’m *loving* the enneagram and loving this list of cleanup types! So fun to help us find our place in the cleanup world, do what we’re good at with confidence – and let ourselves NOT do what we feel like we SHOULD do…! What freedom! Thanks, yet again, Patty for the practical help & encouragement to make my job more fun ?♥️

    • Patty

      You are truly the best, Leslie!

  • Claudette Yutkins

    Hi Patty,
    I wanted to ask you if I will be able to have access to all the info you gave the Sparkers club members for a few months into the summer? I had not been able to open and download each month’s lessons this year and don’t want to lose them.
    I also wanted to ask you if you have a clean up routine for art teachers on a cart? Next year I’ll be teaching from a cart while they rebuild a new school. Thank you, Claudette Yutkins

    • Patty

      Hi Claudette!
      Can you email Shannon at support@deepspacesparkle.com? She’ll take care of your membership needs 🙂
      As for clean-up routines for art on a cart…I imagine they would be the same with the exception of putting things back in storage cupboards, etc.
      Are you in our private Sparklers Facebook group? I think this would be a great conversation to start there. I know many Sparklers teach from a cart 🙂

  • Denise Hiestand

    Thanks! Very helpful!

  • Marian Gartland

    Thank you 👏👏

  • Sim Mirande

    Great information for the new teacher and for some of are veteran teachers. Thank you for sharing.

  • Andreia R



    Clean up art routine .pdf💗

Follow Us

In stores 8/21


The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

Unlocking this lesson will give you access to the entire bundle and use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes

The {bundle_title} is Locked

Accessing this bundle will use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes



The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

To unlock this lesson, close this box, then click on the “lock” icon.