Share What You Know | Organizing Children's Memorabilia.

I'm on the brink of having three children in school all day. I know you mothers will nod in agreement when I say school age children bring home a lot of papers. There are coloring and letter writing pages in Kindergarten. Then, it's counting papers. Spelling tests. Math quizzes. Projects. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It can be overwhelming, no? YES. 

I've always been fairly good at weeding out the junk but somewhere along the way I neglected to figure out a nice organizing system for all our kids papers. This is the result:

We're going to call this image the "before" ok?

I've recently finished organizing my craft room (yay! pictures coming soon!) and the next item on my summer to do list is to get a handle on all this stuff. I came across this image on Pinterest the other day which lead me to this post on I Heart Organizing. I'm feeling inspired but am wondering if you have any tips, tricks or words of wisdom? You dears always have great ideas and I'd love to hear them. Are there resources I should know about? Websites or blogs that may have some good ideas? A particular product that has helped?

Tell me what you know about organizing children's memorabilia.

This is the second post in the Share What You Know series. You can read all of the amazing tips on baking pie crusts from the first Share What You Know post right here.


  1. I'm not so good at the organization part. I'm trying to at least keep them separated by kid and school year at this point! I did scan a bunch of papers and have an album printed so I could cut down on the things I did save though. Definitely helped cut down on the organizing!

  2. I'm not at that point yet with kids, but I've got a couple of ideas:

    1. My mom did this for us & two years ago when they were moving to Charlotte (from SLC!) my mom handed me an oversized folder - a poster board folded in half & stapled along the sides - with a few select pieces from my past. It was a small pile, but very meaningful. She kept kindergarten self-portraits, my handwriting samples from first grade & a few special things through each year of school. It was perfect. My suggestion: keep everything until the school year is over. THEN go through & pick one to two things that were special & stow them away in something. The oversized envelope was great, since I had some rather large art projects that made it into the "keep pile".

    2. Going along the lines of #1, you could order custom binders through Zazzle (I love mine) & put an oversized picture of each child on the front. As he/she goes through the year, let each child file away the special items into that binder. It's personal & easy to store.

    Can't wait to see your studio pics! I bet yours is MUCH cleaner than mine. I just posted messy pics yesterday.

  3. Shawni Pothier just did a post on this recently, and it's basically the same system I plan to implement when I find the courage to tackle it.

  4. My kids teachers are so great and make 2 large memory books for us each year. One book includes monthly art docent projects and the other includes monthly important projects and photos. They are too big for a filing system so I just bought these at Ikea.

    They can surprisingly hold a lot. I put all of the other carefully chosen treasures,reports, etc in there, too.

    I picked up the green storage boxes you have in a post, too. Would love to see more photos of your home organization and decorating ideas.

  5. I think the others' suggestions about a filing box or portfolio for oversized projects is a good one. But you're definitely going to accumulate A LOT over the years. So you might consider scanning other important stuff (probably non-art stuff like: excellent exam scores, certificates, writing samples, etc.) that you do like to keep and then save them on an external hard-drive (and if you're worried, maybe even save it again on a back-up hard drive). That way, you cut way down on space and excess papers, still save the good stuff, and have an easy way to grab it all in the case of an emergency.

  6. Oh my, how I have struggled with this little guy is just in his preschool years, yet he comes home with all kinds of cute things every day from school. I've tried the notebook route, but it seems to fill up too quickly. It's too hard for me to discard anything he makes. :-) Scanning things is a great idea, but I would rather my son have the originals when he is older and wants to look at all the precious things he made in his youth. I love the filing system idea. Thanks for sharing! This is the perfect time to begin planning how I can organize his things before the new school year begins.

  7. I'm a professional organizer and my favorite way to deal is to use acid-free document boxes. For my clients with endless closet space I get one for each year for each kid and they live on the top shelf of the kid's closet. For more realistic closets (like mine) I just use fewer boxes and combine years (and save less artwork). The size of the boxes forces choices to be made about what is really worth keeping.

    Another method is to ask your children what THEY want to keep. They can pick their favorite thing each week and suddenly you've got a fairly manageable 52 masterpieces.

    I like both of these because they begin teaching that you can't keep everything. It's either your stuff or your space - a great lesson to learn early. I also like the boxes for storage because you can easily throw work in. Files and binders are a little fussier which is tricky for my clients who, by definition, are challenged by organization.

    My favorite sources for acid-free art and document boxes are for beauty and for function.

    Good luck!

  8. I have 2 kids in primary school. We have a box where anything that comes home from the classroom is stored until the end of term. Then at the end of term we go through what is just 'stuff' and what is '21st birthday material'. That helps us decide what to keep and what to recycle!

  9. Like other moms, I also had trouble getting rid of things. I had everything they ever brought home from school. About 2 yrs ago. I couldn't take the clutter any longer. I went through everything and discarded anything that didn't seem to have a special meaning. Now I hold on to everything (in a special box) for that school year. At the end of the year I go through and discard all unnecessary papers, artwork, etc. I then place the items kept in each child's special school memories box. This has definitely cut back on the clutter./dj

  10. Your "share what you know" concept is great! We all stand to learn something helpful from one another!

  11. my kids each have a special box. Its all of their favorite papers and things (kind of like a hope chest). Heres a link to my sisters blog who recently did a post on this same thing.

  12. I agree with those who suggest waiting til the end of the year to purge. I like to keep a sample of writing from beginning of the year and one from the end. I also keep special recognition papers like the gold star ones. I have a child who was in a Montessori school where he chose his works. By looking at his papers from the whole year I can see he loved maps. I select several of those to keep. I also bought an inexpensive date stamp which I use to document when the paper comes home. Lastly I use a small accordion file for each child so that I'm not holding onto trunks of paper. Good luck finding a system. Be patient with the process as I have found it changes along the way.

  13. Hi Danyelle,

    I found this cool website some time last year (can't remember how) and the company makes these really neat posters using thumbnail type images of scans of your littlies' artwork.

    If I can get myself organised to scan in my girls' artwork then I might just use it! H xo

  14. I take pictures of each project they bring home. And at the end of the year, I make a photobook. It's a great to keep it all, without the clutter. Happy Organizing!

  15. Hi,
    I suggest this app Artkive. Take a picture of the art work and classify automatically.