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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! 

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127 thoughts

  1. ginny says…
    04/17/2009

    I do this as well. Right now I am keeping the kids school work separated by grade & I plan on going through to get rid of some eventually.
    The holiday work is the only stuff I keep separate & I just store it right with the holiday items. My kids are in 2nd & 6th so always look forward to them coming out. If I forget, they get mad :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Laurie T says…
    04/17/2009

    Great ideas! My kids are out of school and I didn't keep as many papers as you'd think. I saved a few from each grade and then put together a scrapbook with all of the different papers in it (Quick, easy, 12X12 pages) and had it out at their Graduation Open House. The larger papers I store in empty (clean) Pizza boxes. They're free (all you have to do is ask for them) and they hold all different size papers. They can be stored anywhere because they're not that big.

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  3. ~M~ says…
    04/17/2009

    Pretty sure Ali already took the LOM class -- see the 1st picture? That's her LOM.
    ----------
    Ali -- I was just wondering why you decided against a School of Life type file box? (I get that you want the school related LOs to be integrated into your family albums; I mean the storage system from Stacy's class.)
    I am interested in why people choose what they do. Becky Higgins has posted she scans most artwork, and then resizes it and prints it out as needed to fit her sketch/design. She doesn't seem to want a lot of paper clutter in her house.
    I recently wrote a big post on my blog about memorabilia. I was advised to scan and toss items, but I replied that to me, a digital copy is never the same the "the real thing." I am experiencing that with scanning and reprinting old family photos. They are the same images, the but the old photos have a much bigger emotional pull on me... knowing that I held and looked at these photos as a little girl, or that loved ones who have since died handled the photos. I am very inspired to scrapbook these stories when I hold the originals in my hands. When I hold a copy, I am not.
    So I am just curious. :-) I don't have kids but I have a lot of my own memorabilia to deal with. I am planning to adapt Stacy's School of Life album concept to some concepts in my own life. I was thinking I could adapt it and make an album of all the weddings I've been in (nine) -- one LO of photos of the wedding, one LO of shower/bachelorette party photos, and a pocket for the invitations and other paper items. Or all the places I've traveled, to show off photos on one LO, postcards I've collected on a LO and a pocket for all the rest of my travel memorabilia.

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  4. Marnie says…
    04/17/2009

    What an encouragement this post was to me. It is good to know that I am not alone in the work in progress of organizing my home and all of the "stuff".
    I am going to continue chipping awaying at my projects -you are so right even a little dent is a step in the right direction!

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  5. M says…
    04/17/2009

    You might find Stacy Julian's School of Life method helpful! I am taking her LOM class now and she talks about it a lot. I think it's in some of her books too.

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  6. M says…
    04/17/2009

    wow, this is fantastic! what a treasure!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. M says…
    04/17/2009

    Or you could just tackle the smaller items and sort and purge those for now. Let the bigger items sit for a few years. Then you will have a better idea what you still want to keep.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Lisa L. says…
    04/17/2009

    You can also put everything on the fridge and once full, take 1 photograph. Then scrap/store the photographs.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Emily R says…
    04/17/2009

    It's nice to know that a parent actually reads the notes that are sent home in the backpacks! LOL!
    Love your project and can't wait to see more!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. BethBG says…
    04/17/2009

    I do this too. Is there anything sweeter than seeing some holiday handprints on the wall or popsicle stick ornaments on the tree? I keep all this stuff with the holiday decorations.

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

    Oooh, I like this idea! Another way to add art or schoolwork to layouts. XX's

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. sarah the kiwigirl says…
    04/17/2009

    Don't know if someone has mentioned it yet, but what I do is the definite keepers go on the fridge first or in a frame/s in their bedroom that gets rotated, and others get used as giftwrap....that way they are still proud that their art is appreciated!

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  13. tara says…
    04/17/2009

    Hi Ali! I haven't had a chance to read the other comments, so sorry if this has been said...
    but my favorite "solution" when i want to keep almost everything but just can't.... is I take a photo of our son Greyson holding the bigger projects or papers. I try to take them on the day he brings them home from preschool and date them before I forget. I add those to his artwork album sometimes with a scrap or piece of the actual art he is holding. -Tara

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  14. Ali Edwards says…
    04/17/2009

    We absolutely do and appreciate them big time!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Jennifer W says…
    04/17/2009

    I know we can't keep every art project, so we're keeping just a few for each year, but taking pictures of the rest, so we can put them on a digital frame. This way we can enjoy them all, but not have them taking up all the space.

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

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing this with us. I am in the same boat. I have a pile of art work, teacher's note etc all over the place and have been thinking of doing the same thing.
    I am a lurker on your site. Now I've come out of the closet -lol. My 5 1/2 yr old boy's just recently been diagnosed with Autism and you have been such a great source of inspiration and support for me. THANKS!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Giorgina says…
    04/17/2009

    Hi Ali,
    Could you tell me how you made your circle tags for your albums, did you use a Making Memories Tag maker to do it?

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. melanie says…
    04/18/2009

    Very inpsiring and comforting to know that you have piles too! As a teacher myself, i give you an A+ for your ruthlessness.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Monika T says…
    04/18/2009

    Hi Ali,
    I have 4 children and all are in different schools-high school, middle school, elementary & home. My elementary school daughter brings home a friday folder that contains work completed during the week & info coming from school. The 1st thing I do when she gets home is check her Friday Folder and categorize the papers. Signed papers to be returned to school get signed & placed back in her school folder & into her backpack. Info papers with important dates get quickly jotted down in the family calendar & the original gets tossed. Schoolwork that I want goes in a large memorabilia box & gets cleaned out again at the end of the school year. I keep the high schooler & middle school kids work in their own memorabilia boxes specifically for them. My little 3 yr old needs a box soon too. So I will have to get one for him. Thanks for all your inspiration!!! Keep it coming.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Kari D. says…
    04/18/2009

    I am so overwhelmed by this type of project. I have eight kids and six are in school. The youngest two will start preschool next year so I've really got to get it all together and soon!! I do have my kids stuff all piled together by school year (but all mixed together) and lots of artwork is framed. I've thought about doing the school of life books like Stacy J does, but that seems like a lot of books! Maybe putting things right into the regular album is a solution. I've never thought of that before. I'm not a chronological scrapper so sliding things into the "right" album wouldn't work. I supposed simple dates or school years would solve that problem. Oh my.... so many ideas, so much school work. Thanks for the ideas and inspiration.

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  21. jen says…
    04/18/2009

    what a great post! where did you get the wire shelf and cover that you store your albums in. that's a great idea that would work well for me.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Ali Edwards says…
    04/18/2009

    The shelf is from Costco and the cover from the Container Store.

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  23. Ali Edwards says…
    04/18/2009

    When you put your pages into an album do the albums have order? Such as a year? I don't scrapbook chronologically, but I do have my albums that way so that when a page is done it can go into that year's book (that was a HUGE project in and of itself - getting them all into albums).

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  24. Ali Edwards says…
    04/18/2009

    Thanks :).

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Ali Edwards says…
    04/18/2009

    Hi Giorgina - you can read all about that here: /2008/05/q-a-albums.html

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