FREE US SHIPPING ON $100+
FREE US SHIPPING ON $100+
Your cart is empty.

Organizing All That Stuff That Kids Bring Home From School

Clean1

I think I mentioned recently that I have a bunch of different projects happening around here. If you were to visit my house you would encounter piles in each room with a project underway. These are projects that are getting attention here and there when I happen to be in that particular room.

Sometimes things are just shuffled but I have been trying really hard to actually make a dent in each project with the precious minutes when I find them. That dent may be just a tiny one, but it is step forward.

If you were to look on the floor in Anna's room, between the albums and the crib (shown above) you would find this:

Clean2

It's been there for a couple weeks now.

This is the beginning of a project to organize Simon's artwork and papers and evaluations and teacher notes and all that good stuff from preschool through first grade that has made it's way home in his backpack.

The overflowing basket is kindergarten and first grade. The 8.5x11 binder also holds information from kindergarten. The other two piles are from the two different preschools he attended. Last week I went through much larger piles from these years and have already whittled it down to what I want to keep.

How did I decide what to keep?

I am pretty ruthless when it comes to this kind of stuff. Most of the papers from the early preschool years were random coloring sheets with the lovely random marks of a three year old who put very little pressure on his crayons & pens. I kept a few of those and recycled the rest. I did not need to keep them all. I definitely kept notes from the teachers, photos of the class, evaluations, schedules of what they were working on at a certain point in time, etc. I envision going through each pile again to make it even smaller before moving on to working with some of the papers.

What I want to keep are the pages that help round out and complement the stories that live in his albums right now. I love this kind of content/documentation for his albums. When I
look back on things that my Mom kept from when I was growing up I love
to see the papers with my handwriting or notes from teachers.  These are real life gems.

Here's my plan for the stuff I do keep:

(1.) Some of the papers and artwork will go directly into his albums from those years. I am planning to simply slip many of them into 8.5x11 page protectors. This should be fairly simple since I have all the layouts/albums in order already (you can read about that monster project here).

At
one point in time I considered having separate albums just for documenting his
school years. After looking at all those albums on the shelf I decided
I just want to add them to the appropriate years and have them be a
collective reflection of stories and real-life papers (just like what I
am trying to do with Anna's baby album); essentially a more traditional kind of scrapbook.

Simplybeyou_low

Noschool

(2.) Some of the papers and artwork will be used to create layouts. Just the process of going through the piles generated a bunch of different ideas for layouts; there are so many stories still left to be told. The layouts above from Life Artist and Creating Keepsakes 2008 both include papers from school. They are such a great jumping off point.

(3.) If there are leftover papers I may get a couple boxes for more long term storage. I would LOVE to only keep what can be stored in the albums I have already created. My goal is to create a home for all this stuff that is easily accessible, organized, and made relevant within his albums. 

What I do now: 

These days when Simon comes home I take a look in his backpack (if he has not already pulled out the papers to share with me) and am going through the papers on a daily basis. Some get recycled immediately, some are put up on the fridge to be enjoyed and celebrated, and some go into the basket you see above (which lives in Anna's closet).

In the future I would like to get in a routine where I take what comes home and either put it right into a page protector in an album or place it in a to-do pile in my office where I keep content I want to add onto an upcoming layout. 

Look for another post in the coming months as I share my experience, process, and layouts.

Edited : so many great ideas in the comments today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and systems!

Dottedline_2

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Related Posts

Sign in or sign up to comment.

127 thoughts

  1. Kristin Rutten says…
    04/17/2009

    You've got some great ideas I may have to adopt myself! I especially like your year-end ritual ... TFS!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. andrea says…
    04/17/2009

    My nieces and nephew were always doing some kind of art (family of artists). I am an art teacher so I knew which drawings to keep as they went through different developmental stages. I would date them and put them in a portfolio. When they graduated from art school/university, I slipped the drawings and paintings into a very nice presentation portfolio according to date and gave the whole thing as gift.
    They loved it and could see their talent emerging year by year. They're professionals
    now themselves and have a record of when it all started.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Nichole says…
    04/17/2009

    Thanks for sharing this, Ali. I'm doing Stacy Julian's School Of Life album for my daughter, and I absolutely love the system. I have one Rubbermaid tub for the overflow. Anything that doesn't go there or her SOL album gets recycled or mailed to grandparents.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Ali Edwards says…
    04/17/2009

    I love this idea too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Deirdre says…
    04/17/2009

    Thanks for sharing this. One of the key points for me, that you mentioned too, is returning to piles later to whittle them down further.
    We have a metal file box (from the dollar store but the same kind as Pottery Barn sells) on a wall in our mud room and all school papers go in there. Sometimes it is too overwhelming to decide what to keep or not keep at first glance. Once a month I go through and recycle/toss and keep only what hits me as uniquely representative of something.
    At the end of the year, we'll go through it again and keep only a few signature pieces. This is in addition to art work from home (kept in a rubbermaid tub), teacher notes, etc. I'm using Becky Higgins school years kit, and believe this might be the one album my son wants to take with him when he leaves home (since he is deciding so much of it).
    I only wish I had purchased more of BH's kit for my younger boys!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. alexandra says…
    04/17/2009

    Funny you should write about this now... just the other day I was thinking of the piles and bags of art and 'stuff' that I have accumulated since my twins have been in Jr.K and now Sr. K. I have an overwhelming amount of papers and projects and I had wondered how you would handle it all. I bought two big American Crafts binders and loads of page protectors last year but have yet to tackle things. I'm also at a loss for what to do with the larger art pieces - do I save them, scan them, frame them photograph them??? Not sure what to do. I know I have to edit but starting is a bit daunting. Thanks for sharing a bit of your process - it's nice to see I'm not the only one with 'piles' - but mine, oddly enough, usually end up on the dining room table!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Ali Edwards says…
    04/17/2009

    My first thought on the oversized pieces is that I am just going to crop them down to fit in the 12x12 albums. If it was something totally amazing I would probably frame it. So far most of his things could be cropped and not lose the overall feel.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Ali Edwards says…
    04/17/2009

    It could be a sickness :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Michelle says…
    04/17/2009

    Oh my gosh, Ali, we are on some kind of psychic wavelength, LOL! Yesterday I was looking at the pile of my kids' artwork on the kitchen counter, thinking I needed come up with a new system to keep it organized. I thought of YOU! (Really!) You gave me great advice on getting my garage studio set up a couple of months ago (still a work in progress!). I love your ideas on putting kids' work in sleeves directly in their scrapbooks, and using the art itself to create layouts. Love that! Can't wait to try it.
    Another cool idea I saw in a magazine a couple of years back -- (I think Cookie?) There's a company (I forgot the name!)that will take the scanned images of your child's artwork, and put them all on a poster. I'm sure one of the many photo printing websites around could do the same. I'm thinking about giving that a try, it would be fun to frame & hang it in the living room.
    Thanks for reading my mind and publishing another great post. :)
    Hope you and your family have a lovely weekend.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. o-girl says…
    04/17/2009

    Nice to get a glimpse into someone else's system of keeping school memories. I'm ruthless too. When my kids were in elementary and doing art work regularly, at the end of the school year I'd go through it and keep only the exceptional pieces of art (c'mon...be honest...not every piece is exceptional but we don't tell the kids that) and take photos of most of the others, especially big, bulky art pieces that would be hard to store. I've kept ceramic pieces and crafty things like that. (Both kids had the same teacher in 2nd grade so I have 2 adorable wooden snowmen they each made that I won't part with). I kept notes from teachers, evaluations, stuff like that that you mentioned. I used to draw pictures on my daughter's lunch bag (she liked the brown paper ones for this reason) and she'd bring them home because she liked them so much so I've saved a few of those too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Shaquanna says…
    04/17/2009

    Hi Ali,
    Thank you for sharing your process of going through school work. Although I do not have my own kids yet, I am a teacher, and get lots of letters, drawings, etc. from my students. At first, I was saving a lot of what they gave me. As I have been teaching longer, I tend to of course save photos, the class picture, as well as really sentimental letters from students, or a drawing/coloring page that really moves me in a way. That said, I also have MANY piles around my house, and too going through other life memorabilia. I'll get through what I can now, as I am going away, so it will have to wait until I come back.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Michelle says…
    04/17/2009

    P.S. The photo of Simon on your "Simply Be You" layout is gorgeous! What a cutie :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Tona says…
    04/17/2009

    It sounds like you have a great plan going.
    When I was teaching preschool & the parents would ask what to do with all of the excess art work their child did I would suggest to use it for wrapping paper when sending gifts to friends and family. (Grandparents especially love receiving a gift wrapped that way).

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. tara pakosta says…
    04/17/2009

    SIGH>>>i wish i had been on top of this from the beginning. now I have a 3rd grader and 2nd grader and all that stuff to go througH! the good news is, i put each grade a big padded envelope and put the year on it for each child! so it's sort of organized. and i already threw out most of what I didn't want. it's just a matter of finding the desire to go through it all. oh and my albums are NOT in order. about 3/4 of my layouts arent' even IN albums yet! you are so LUCKY to be so organized!!!!!!!!
    keep INSPIRING ME!
    tara

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Stephanie George says…
    04/17/2009

    Calli,
    This is a great way to teach kids how to purge things themselves (which I, at 30 years old, still have trouble doing!). I think it is great that you are involving your kids in the process and importance of "saving" and "purging". I think boys often have trouble with the concept of saving. I was always amazed when guys I dated had little more than one box of possessions to their name and was sad that I couldn't glimpse into their childhoods! On the other hand, I have way tooo much stuff. So learning to prioritize items is great.
    The few times my mom did help me go through my things, she would put things I wasn't sure if I wanted to part with yet in a box in the attic. Several years later when we would go through the box, I found it much easier to decide what was important to me since I wasn't so attached to seeing the items every day.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Sharna says…
    04/17/2009

    I have struggled with this as my kids grow (they are 8 and 10) but I have a fairly simple system now... I keep an IKEA wire in the kitchen that we show off their art and good grades for awhile (read months). Whenever it's full or needs a change up I take everything down and sort. Much gets recycled, the best gets placed in boxes by child (kept in my closet) some gets turned into new art (we cut them up and make cards for the elderly or military, etc.) and the ones that my daughter gets weepy about parting with I take photos of with her in front. I once read an idea where you make a temporary gallery of all their art for the year on a wall and stand them next to it and take a photo, then keep only a few special pieces. Every year or so I double check the boxes in the closet and purge again. Distance is helpful and makes things feel less precious. I have also found that my son doesn't care a bit but my daughter is VERY attached to her stuff. I make sure that I bury any of her items in the recycling bin so she doesn't get too upset. I hope she'll thank me when she's grown that I only saved a sampling of her things and not every single thing... :-)

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Jennifer P says…
    04/17/2009

    I had to "divide and conquer" when it came to my kids albums after starting scrapbooking later in their little lives. I was afraid I would never get caught up and the idea was so overwhelming I had to break it down into easier steps to keep from getting bogged down and giving up. I now have 3 books for each kid. One school days, one holidays (Christmas), and one everyday. I keep a few of their "origionals", but to keep the mass down, I take pictures of the art work we can purge and make a collage of smaller pictures in a layout. That way I don't have so many large pieces in the book and I can keep it condenced to one book for the time being.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. debbies says…
    04/17/2009

    There was a Saturday Night Live skit about a woman who saved everything under the sun for her scrapbook. A guy friend at work came in telling me about, making fun of how crazy the hobby can get. Sometimes I wonder if I'm behaving this irrationally by saving all this stuff. My little boy is just 2 and half, and already I have many, many paintings of his that I just cherish, and can't part with. I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do with them all.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. cheryl says…
    04/17/2009

    Hi Ali,
    I was just adding to the largest binder ring that I've been keeping with the work my pre-schooler is bringing home this year. I just punch a hole and add the pages to the huge ring, this way she can look them over during prep for K-5 next year and I've kept them together for myself to look at and weed through one day. I have four kids and I have often felt buried alive with "stuff". This has helped one little corner of my world feel under control.
    It has been an easy fix. Wish I'd thought of it when my twenty-two year old was in preschool...we live and learn!
    Have a joyous weekend!
    Cheryl

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Jakki says…
    04/17/2009

    I HAD to comment before reading all of the post...
    Both of my son's have done the Santa Claus with the cotton balls! I still have them too!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Vicki says…
    04/17/2009

    At my kids school they had this great tradition of making bound books with copies of the entire Kindergarten year. Unfortunatley my kids are now 22 and 26 so I can't remember the company that did it-- but my guess is there are alot of those companies out there... (That book is in the attic somewhere :)
    But I can tell all of you with younger kids-- it does get easier the older they get.
    Some suggestions:
    1) Keep all xmas ornaments they make in your christmas boxes... We do an entire tree dedicated to all that art!! and it is a conversation peice every year
    2) Fingerpainting looks great framed!!! be sure to frame one or two... you would be amazed how many people think its modern art
    3) Scanning does help!! you know you don't want it all but by scanning it you can toss alot of things you are waivering about!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Nancy Gaumer says…
    04/17/2009

    I actually teach preschool teachers and have a preschool age granddaughter. I am totally overwhelmed as I see every piece of paper as something I can use for a class I teach! So many of the papers I have are 12 by 18 and fit into nothing. Cropping is mostly sacriligious to us in early childhood. I'm wondering about the Martha Stewart scrapbooks that are huge-has anyone used these? I agree that photographing and saving to CD would probably be a great strategy as I've used it for 3-D projects. Love the idea of taking out old holiday artwork each year.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Christine says…
    04/17/2009

    My mom did this for me - I have a bunch of ornaments and wall hangings that I did when I was 10 and under (I'm now 39). I LOVE taking these things out each year and sharing them with my kids!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Joanne Martinson says…
    04/17/2009

    I didn't have a chance to read through all the comments...so if this is a repeat, sorry. I have a small suggestion that I've used for layouts as well as just to keep the immense amout of "momentos" to a minimum. I have an 8 yr old and 15 yr old...so lots of papers over the years!! I scan or copy and reduce the size substantially. It is a way to keep the original memory without all the bulk!
    Hope this can help.
    Joanne

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Hillary Chybinski says…
    04/17/2009

    Thanks for sharing Ali - the daily paperwork for 2 boys is one of my constant struggles. What I have done is set up a binder for each boy (Ryan is blue, Owen is green) - these binders hold all current school/childcare info I need for the year - class lists, handbooks, etc. Then from the wonderful Stacy J - I have a School of Life file box, where each boy gets a folder for each year of school for papers to remember - report cards, certificates, math tests, etc. Because I am So sentimental - I also have a large plastic bin for each boy of their BEST artwork. . .I recycle and toss a lot more than I ever did - but I feel like I hold onto enough to savor in my golden years.
    Have a great weekend.
    Hillary

    Reply 0 Replies

Sign in or sign up to comment.

Scroll back to top