Physical Space

Take the Minimalism Challenge to Tidy Your Art Room!

minimalism download

Have you joined the decluttering craze that’s sweeping the nation? From Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to the immensely popular blog, The Minimalists, people everywhere are getting rid of more and making do with less.

But how can that translate to the art room? Sure, we all know we’d probably be happier with less stuff. But, we’re art teachers. Our lives are stuff!

While it’s impossible to get rid of everything and still run a functional program, there are probably quite a few things you could do without. I personally found this to be true while taking a good hard look at my classroom recently.

That’s why I’ve decided to take on a 30-Day Minimalism Challenge in my art room. This challenge was originally created to help declutter one’s home, but what better place to try it out than a messy art room?

pile of cardboard pieces

I’ve taken the original challenge posed by The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, and adapted it for a school setting. Join me!

The 30-Day Minimalism Challenge for the Art Room

First: Find a friend who’s willing to join you.

So here’s the deal with the Minimalism Challenge. First, find a friend who’s willing to take this on with you. This helps to keep you motivated and gives the challenge a competitive edge. There are lots of teachers in your building who, I’m sure, could benefit from this game. Invite lots of people to up the ante!

sign up sheet for challenge

Second: Choose a start date.

Choose a date when you and your colleagues will start. For me, the first of a month makes the most sense.

Third: Start getting rid of things!

For every day of the challenge, you must throw out, donate, or otherwise get rid of the corresponding number of items. For example, on Day 1 of the challenge, you get rid of 1 item. On day 2 of the challenge, you get rid of 2 items. On it goes until on Day 30, you get rid of 30 items.

There is no rule against getting rid of more items on any given day or continuing on beyond the 30 days, so go all out! Maybe now is the time you decide to finally throw out the 17 bottles of rancid tempera paint you inherited. Or donate the 9 bottles of dried out glaze you know you’ll never take the time to reconstitute. And maybe, just maybe, you can let go of the 45 empty yarn cones you’ve been saving for “something” for the last nine years.

If you’d like, use the hashtag #aoecleansweep on Instagram and Twitter to share your progress!

4. Reward the winner(s).

Whichever teacher lasts the longest, wins. Incentivize the game by offering a prize at the end, such as a special lunch or a gift certificate. If you get a large group of people to participate, you can even have everyone chip in a few dollars to put toward the winnings.

If this sounds like fun, here’s a download to help you keep track of your downsizing!

minimalism download

Download Now!

At the end of the day, the biggest prize will be walking into your clean, tidy art room. Imagine how easy it will be to find stuff in your minimalist desk, drawers, and closets. If the minimalist challenge works for you at school, maybe the next stop is your closet at home!

How do you keep your classroom from getting too cluttered year to year?

What places in your art room need a deep clean?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Kelly Phillips

Kelly Phillips is an elementary school art educator and a former AOEU Writer. They strive to create an environment where all students can become independent, self-directed risk-takers.

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