Monday, September 18, 2023

School Paper Organization

Today I'm resharing a post from WAY back in 2018 when I finally tackled organizing my kids school (and other) papers.  I'm proud to say that 5 years later this system still works perfectly for us and I really can't recommend it enough!

 This post has been a loooooong time in the making.  As in - over 10 years.  Because if I'm being honest I've never really had a system for storing ANY of my kids "memory" items.  I'm not really sure whether I'm proud or embarrassed of this ;)

I've had the supplies to tackle this project for a couple of months, but have been putting it off.  Friday was the day of reckoning and by 10 am my front entry looked like this.  

My "system" up to this point was piling stuff up in our back hall, then throwing away the junky stuff and then throwing the "keep" pile in these two huge bins in our attic.  Keep in mind that these bins also housed a few baby mementos, some clothing items I wanted to keep and other various things.  Yeah - not the best system. 

I found these large clear file boxes on Amazon and also ordered a few packages of colored file folders and tabs.  (I ordered a set of 5 from Amazon and it was around $50... they're more expensive now so I've also linked them individually from WalMart below)

I took the folders and tabs and went ahead and created one for each of the kids years of school and then one for school pics and sports pics.

I have extra tabs and folders to add as needed. 

For sorting I was pretty ruthless.   If I didn't go "awwwww" when I looked at it I tossed it.  I tried to keep the best "original art" (i.e. not coloring pages), creative writing and those kinds of papers.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things I kept...

There were several binders and I removed the pages I wanted to keep and tossed the binders.

If there were large items I just folded them (I know!) and made it work.

Do y'all remember when Luke wrote this thank you note to an author/illustrator team who came to school and he mis-transcribed the word BOOK!?!!  I'm still forever thankful that the librarian brought me his note (instead of mailing it!) so I could have it forever ;)

This is four folders of Mason's schoolwork (toddler, pre-k, kinder and 1st grades).  The box looks SUPER full, but in reality it's not...

I also know that these early elementary years are going to be the most "work" heavy... already in 3rd grade Luke had significantly less than he has in previous years.

I also made folders for their sports and school pics...

While I was in organization mode I also went ahead and put all the various other "mementos" into a second box for each kid.  Jerseys from t-ball, hospital blankets/bracelets, first ballet slippers, those sorts of things.  My "goal" is to keep their mementos (school and otherwise) contained to these two boxes.  I'm sure as years go on I'll have to purge (or maybe add a third box - who knows!) but I definitely see this system working for us moving forward.

These boxes are going to be stored one one of the upper shelves in one of the closets in our master bedroom - I was going to keep them in the attic - but we have the space downstairs and it gets SO HOT in the attic and that makes me nervous with the photos stored inside. 

My plan for the school year is to have a bin in our back hall where all the work/art goes.  Ideally I'd go through it weekly and file the things that we decide to keep - but I have a feeling it will more likely happen monthly or quarterly :)  

One quick addition - SO many of y'all mentioned Artkive and Shutterfly books and all kinds of other options and while those options seem WONDERFUL I love having the tangible projects that their little hands actually made.  Having their handprints the exact size they were, having their actual journals, etc.  But if that's not super important to you then digital may be the way to go!

I'd love to know how you store your kids memories... and how you decide what to keep.  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments so we can all learn from each other!

HAPPY Tuesday, friends!

PS - this post contained affiliate links... thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog!


  1. YES! I did this back when you very first mentioned it and never looked back! It's SO easy to keep track of and maintain. I love it. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I just LOVE a good system, friend!! This is genius!

  3. I'm so grateful you shared this all those years ago. I started this system when my older son started preschool, and three years in it still works great! I've shared it with so many others too!

  4. We've been doing this since my son was in Pre-K (he's older now) and it's worked beautifully. I store the school work bin in my home office so that I can easily file away school work that I want to keep as it comes in. I keep his memento bin in the closet of his room, so that I can put items in there as needed. I also take a quick photo of the artwork that I wasn't 100% sure if I wanted to keep/toss, and I made a Chatbook out of it. Super easy and saves a ton of space.


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