If you are like me, you might be struggling to cope with sanitizing/cleaning/de-germifying (that's totally a word) all of your many art materials. I have never been the type person to be super concerned with germs, but it is important in the current circumstances to keep my students and coworkers safe. That being said, some things are easy to clean and some things are near impossible How are you supposed to clean a tray of watercolor paints??
I've come up with a system that is making it SLIGHTLY easier to keep the germs away from my precious kiddos. Heads up: it involves a lot of bins and labels which are my go-to solution for every problem!
I have started by limiting the materials I have on my cart at any given time. My 4th-6th graders are still getting to choose the materials they use for their projects from a small list of options. I then plan my K-3 projects around the same types of materials so that I am not over-packing my cart.
My plan is to rotate these materials periodically throughout the year to give everyone a change of pace. I've explained to my students that we can't have the same level of choices as we normally do because I would have to have a train of carts to fit all of those items!
When students have finished with ANY materials that they have borrowed from the art cart, they deposit them in our "used material bin". They know not to put anything back with the clean materials and not to touch the other materials that have already been placed in the used bin. This limits exposure to other students and class-to-class.
At the end of the day I sort out these used materials into two categories:
Items that can be sprayed with a sanitizing spray (markers, scissors, paintbrushes, etc.)
Items that need to be quarantined for three days (crayons, colored pencils, pastels, etc.)
The things that need to be sanitized are laid out on cloths and sprayed. These are then left to air dry over night and are good to go in the morning. The items that need to be "quarantined" are put into bins based on the day they were used. That way I know when they can be taken back out and out away on the cart. For example, items in the "Monday" bin can be removed on Thursday and put back in rotation.
You will also notice in the quarantine bins that there are stacks of cups. Instead of using our plastic water cups, I have been using Styrofoam cups. Students write their names on the cups and then reuse the same one the next week! Less waste and no sharing!
It's not a perfect system because it's not a perfect world, but we are making the best out of it! If you have more suggestions or other creative ways you are using your cart, I want to hear about them!