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Kids’ School Work

I can’t believe it’s already Thursday night!  My house is a mess, my fridge is empty, and my kids have been totally fending for themselves.  Kenny and I have been consumed this week with our quest to find our dream home.  I’m a bit burned out and am starting to think our dream home is just that: a nice dream.  Oh well!  Gonna keep on dreaming…and keep on hunting…and while I’m at it, I’ll also dream about my current house cleaning itself and my fridge stocking itself with groceries (I like my peppered turkey super thin thank you very much).

Anyway, switching gears – I wanted to answer a question that has popped up quite a bit from time to time.  “What do you do with your kids’ school work?”  My previous post touched on this so I thought I’d wrap it up with this post.

I LOVE my kids’ artwork (what mom doesn’t!?) but it can sure be overwhelming because they come home with SO much.  The stuff I hang on to always falls in one of these categories:

A)  Shows their personality
B)  Shows their growth in a certain area
C)  Speaks to me and makes me smile

Everything else gets trashed.  Of course, before I trash a lot of it, I display it all over the house.  I display things in the playroom…

And the door to our garage is always covered with happy art work… 

Here’s my very own Vanna White (or maybe Princess Leia?) showcasing her originals.

This picture of our pantry door was taken last November.  Makes me in the mood for Fall!  :)  Here’s the thing with seasonal artwork – the kids always bring it home from school toward the end of the season!  These cute turkeys and scarecrows came home two days before Thanksgiving.  Since I like to have seasonal artwork like this up at the beginning of the season, I save things like this just to put up the next year.  I have a place for seasonal art – the stuff I want to display for a year or two during a certain season and then trash.

In my hutch organization post, I showed these boxes on the right side of my hutch for keepsakes.  I don’t have a picture to share, but the left side of this hutch is where I store seasonal artwork.  Next November I’ll hang up my girls’ artwork from previous Novembers.  They love to see their past work displayed each season.  Plus it gets us all excited about the upcoming holiday!

The stuff that I really treasure (usually written work that shows my girls’ personalities) I save for their scrapbooks.  You all know the new system I’ve developed to keep this work organized!

Everything I want my girls to have, I try to some how work into their scrapbooks (Project Life albums).  I fell in love with the Project Life albums because of that very reason – such a great way to incorporate everything I want my girls to have as keepsakes.  (Updated school file folders here)
I think having these hand prints of Ellie’s on her first day of Kindergarten displayed with pictures from that day makes the memory extra special. 

Anything I want to save that is too big or just doesn’t make it into the Project Life albums I am currently keeping in these bins.

I bought one for each of the girls (5 bucks at Target) and hope one is all I need.  I really try to keep this in mind when saving school work:  How much do I really need to save?  My mom saved a couple of boxes of stuff for me from my school days and I treasure it all, I really do.  But how often do I look at it?  Not that often.  I look through my childhood photo album a lot more than I go through my box of school work.  I really don’t want to hand my kids’ 20 boxes and 20 albums full of their childhood (which would be easy for me to do!).  At some point when this box is getting too full, I’ll go through it and decide what’s really worth hanging on to.  
So that is my system!  Some on the walls, some stored as seasonal decor, some in their albums, some in storage bins, and the rest (about 85% of it) gets recycled.  
What about you?  Any other fun ideas/systems for saving kids’ school work?    
Any other fun ideas/systems for getting your house to clean itself?  Keep dreamin’…right?  :)
xoxo, Erin
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25 thoughts on “Kids’ School Work

  1. First to comment because I’m up way past my bedtime!

    I organize with the same $5 target bins. I just bought two more yesterday, but I really need to go through what I have and see if it’s worth keeping. I throw most stuff away. Not sure if that’s good, but that’s what I do. And my kids know that if it means something to them, then they better let me know before I’ll trash it! I’m so bad :))

    I’m doing the digital PL this year, and the one downfall is not being able to incorporate all the cute stuff they make.

  2. oh, this post came just at the right time! i have really been struggling with what to do with the girls’ artwork- it is just overwhelming what comes home from preschool and then on top of that what we make at home! i will definitely be incorporating some of your ideas!

    i use art folios and label by age- they are big enough to fit big pieces of artwork, and they store really nicely. the only problem is you can’t store three dimensional art in them…but i guess i could use bins for that!

  3. Hi Erin, I firstly want to say I loveeee your blog, I’m from Australia so it’s fascinating to read about life in the USA! As for a way to recycle art work, I have been using some of my girls paintings as wrapping paper for their little friends Birthday presents. :)

  4. Thanks Erin… I am just starting to save with my oldest in preschool this year. This makes me feel normal b/c I have art all over my kitchen! There is something so heart warming about a childs work of art!

  5. You are so organized!! I have an art cable in the playroom that I use and love to display their work. I also love that you use the red storage boxes. such a cute idea to bring out the older stuff. love your blog – I’m fairly new to it and definitely look forward to your posts!

  6. I have a friend that scans her son’s projects if they are flat and takes photos of the ones that aren’t with a solid background so she can crop it out and then she makes a scrapbook of his projects for each year of school. It’s a great way to “keep” all of his schoolwork without actually having to keep it!! I plan to start my own scrapbooks as well, as soon as I can find time to scan the 500 projects I already have!!

  7. Most of the things my little makes, I scan into my iphoto program and then make a yearly photo book from them. Then I keep the ones that are really special in bins. =)

  8. I do what you do Erin. I am incorporating some of my son’s artwork into Project Life (the smaller stuff). I decided if it’s something I really like and it’s too big for PL then I will take a picture of it to put in the album…like the owl he made the other week out of a small paper bag and cupcake papers…so cute! I have a large rubbermaid container that I am putting all other school work/projects in and in the coming months will go through that and toss much of it…just can’t keep it all!

  9. I heard a great thought the other day concerning what to keep/what to toss when it comes to kids artwork and stuff: if you keep too much, none of it is all that special. I try to remember that – if you only keep the really, really important items to you, they will be more special. Keeping too much – the sheer volume that you keep – takes away from the significance of those few items you do keep. What’s a few?? That I’m still trying to figure out!

    But Project Life is always a great way to store those smaller ones. And for larger stuff, taking pictures of your child holding it is always a good idea too!

  10. Oh, I reread my comment – what I meant to say was that if the volume of what you keep is too high, it takes away from the significance of those items that really are the special ones. That’s what I meant to say!

  11. Just a few nights ago I was going through a file drawer searching for something and I was so frustrated with all the artwork from the kids that kept getting in my way! I need those bins! Why didn’t I think of that???

    You are such a great friend. :)

  12. I don’t comment often enough on my cute daughters blog but I just wanted to say something about keeping your kids school work. Saving your little ones art work is even more meaningful when your babies grow up and have kids of their own. When I look through the stuff that I saved of Erin’s, it brings back a flood of memories….the kind that give you a lump in your throat. Because when they do get all grown up it is easy to forget so many little things about when you were their mommy. I am so grateful I saved so many of Erin’s notes, artwork and things ~ not just for her to remember, but for me. I love you Erin :)

  13. Erin,

    Thanks so much for this post. I am in paper/schoolwork overload right now and am beginning to feel overwhelmed. I really needed to read your post and see a visual of what I can do get organized. This has really motivated me….Thanks Again!

  14. With nine kids…I have art projects galore. And I am so bad at throwing things away. I put so much in storage bins. I have a friend who photo scans each piece of art, shrinks them down, and then scrapbooks them. Then she throws away the originals. I think that’s a great idea…but there’s a part of me (I am too sentimental) that just can’t part with the “hands-on” project. You know, just knowing that they touched it and created it…so I have a hard time with making copies and throwing away the originals. But seriously…I have to just get over that because when they are away in bins, who gets to enjoy them? The thing is…when I got married and moved out of the home, my mom gave me a lot of my “old” stuff, and some of that stuff was a collection of my old school papers and artwork from when I was growing up. It was so neat to see all that I had done when I was young. I imagine I’m going to do the same thing when each of my children leaves home. I will go upstairs into my closet storage, grab their BIG bin of stuff, and give it to them. Maybe what I’ll do is make scans just for myself, and then give them the originals? Still undecided about this. So for now…my closet is piled high with big storage bins with each child’s name on it. I need a bigger closet!

  15. So many people seem to read your blog cuz they are just like you. Often times I read it just to find how different I am from you and your followers…like when my mom gave me the few art projects she had saved of mine I was like, “What the heck? What am I supposed to do with this? I did a hurry up get it done job and now you want me to save this for like ever?” Save your kids and their spouses the headache and closet space. RECYCLE I say:)

  16. I’m telling you, I get little heart palpitations at the sight of all of the red bins neatly tucked away. Happy Sunday from one organizational freak to another:)

  17. Love those three questions re: narrowing down the pictures to save. Where were you 20 years ago – oh wait, they are still in boxes downstairs! Its not too late. Good luck on the house dreaming. I hope it will come together and the maid will arrive soon :).

  18. I take pictures of my kids’ artwork and projects then include the pictures in a school book I compile at the end of the year. I have a visual reminder of not only the artwork, but the child holding the artwork. Then I toss, toss, toss.

  19. great post, I do something similar. I go through stuff during the year. then I go through it all again at the end of the year. I scrapbook some, and I put some in a bin. I’m going to keep it to 1 bin overall for him.

  20. Glad you found a way to keep those artworks! It would be a shame if you throw them away. More than just having a seasonal decoration without having to spend a lot, these works are a reminder of your kids’ youth. It’s something you won’t be able to bring back. :)

    Ruby Badcoe

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