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Organizing Art Work and Keepsakes

I don’t know about all of you but lately I feel like I am DROWNING in my kids’ paper work.  Three kids with all of their class assignments and tests and reports and stories and art work and parent letters and the list goes on and on…
I thought I’d share a few ways I’m attempting to contain the paper around here.  I’ve shared my hanging file holder several times on the blog.  In the past I’ve used it to hold magazines.  Right now it’s hanging in my office.  (I get asked a lot where it’s from – Ballard Designs!)

The slots are labeled with our names – one for me and one for each of the kids.
organized hanging file
It is supposed to hold our current paperwork – things we are working on or need to save for the near future.  But as you can see – it was a mess and hasn’t been keeping us all that organized lately.   Part of the problem is that we just had too much stuff we were trying to keep in this organizer.
organized kids' work
Then there is the constant issue of my girls and their story writing and drawing.  Love their creative bursts!  But I don’t love their creative papers all over the office.  I rounded up all of the art/stories/projects that are either finished or are “in progress” and spread them out on the counter.  These are things they do for fun at home, not school stuff.  (Anyone else have this problem?)
organized kids work
Then I put the girls to work sorting through it all.  I told them to only keep their favorite/most special papers and to toss the rest.  They have a mom who loves to “toss” so they are getting better at this little exercise.  :)  I have to recycle about 95% of the paper that comes through this house or we really wouldn’t be able to come up for air!
organized art for kids
I’ve had these fun fabric boxes from Home Goods for a while and decided they would be a perfect place for the girls to keep their stories and art work that they are working on at the house.
labeled files for kids art work
I just popped a label with their name in each of them (love my label maker!) and done!
labeled boxes for kids art work
A new home for so many of the loose papers that were all over the office.
kids organized art
kids organzied art work
We’ve been using these for two months now and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner!  Now after the girls sit down and draw a picture or start a story they have a place to save their work.  No more loose papers all over the office, no more searching for a certain half finished drawing, no more crazy out of control file organizers on the wall.  K – my slot still gets a little crazy from time to time but the kids’ slots stay much neater.  :)
art-work-storage saving-kids'-art-work
For larger art work/projects from school the girls each have a bin they keep under their beds.  They are filling up fast, but I really want them to only have one bin each for Elementary School so we are going to go through them and make sure we really need to keep everything in them.  I’ll buy another bin for each of them for Middle/High School.
saving and storing kids artwork_0137
Another solution around here for keeping the paper under control is tucked away in my formal living room.  I may not have any furniture in that room yet, but I do have the cupboards organized.  :)
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I’ve had these red boxes from the Container Store for years.
saving and storing kids artwork_0139saving and storing kids artwork_0140
They hold our keepsakes.  Some from the kids and some from our childhood.  One box is labeled “Erin’s Keepsakes from the kids.”  My husband has one for him.
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It’s so nice to have a special place to keep the cards and notes and drawings from the kids that mean so much to us.  These are the boxes we would grab if there was a fire!  After we grab the kids of course.

And maybe my label maker.  ;)

So those are a few ways I’m organizing/saving the kids’ work!  I still have a drawer of their past work to go through that I am saving for their Project Life albums.  You can see how I’ve incorporated special school work in their scrapbooks here. I’d also love to make an on-line book sometime to showcase some of their drawings.

There are SO many fun solutions for saving and organizing all of the paper kids bring home.  Would love to hear what’s working for you!

xoxo, Erin
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27 thoughts on “Organizing Art Work and Keepsakes

  1. Artkive app has become my best friend! I love that you can make different albums. I have several for each boy. Pre-K, Kindergarten, etc….. so easy and I can toss everything except for the really special projects. :) Love the box idea too!
    p.s. The house looks sooooo good!! Love how you’ve decorated!

    1. Thank you Sara! Ok – I need to check Artkive out now! I haven’t heard of that. Thanks so much for the tip! And for your sweet words about my house. :) xo

  2. I think keeping what is special in boxes and containers is the best way to organize paper. The kids do come home/create so many beautiful things but it really can become a huge pile if not sorted through and contained. One of my favorite ways is Shutterfly books. I am going to start pairing down framed pictures and make books that hold some of my memories.

    I think you have some budding artists. That picture of the panda is amazing. :)

  3. Oh my gosh, I know exactly how you feel! My daughter is 7 and LOVES to draw and write. I love that she’s so creative, but hate the piles and piles of papers. I try to stay organized, but it ends up being a never ending battle. I love that you involve your kids in picking their favorite keepsakes and your storage idea is perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank You for sharing this! I have just started following your blog but have spent the past month covering your entire past year of posts (better than any book I could have read this month)! I have started a second round of raising kids and I have a learned a thing or two from my first round (two boys who are now 21 & 19). ARTWORK… always a hard one and after hosting a couple graduation parties I now realize that you DO NOT want to pull these things out for people-it is so cumbersome. Since I now know that my 3 and 7 year old girls will be graduating in the blink of an eye- I have prepared myself much better! Instead of keeping all the papers and projects- I have been taking pictures of the girls holding the project or simply photographing the artwork from high on a ladder. Then I have compiled hardcover photo books (and ordering 2 copies of each) and plan to have these out during this milestone. I have done one with all ECE projects and plan to put a kinder/first one together at the end of the school year. It has been a blast to pull it out and look at how her writing, drawing and painting has evolved! It does take some time to sort and design the book- but it has been so worth it!

    1. Hi Andrea! So nice to “meet” you! I’m thrilled you found my blog and are enjoying it! YOU are the one to talk to about preserving artwork! So nice that you have already been through this all once and have learned a better system! I think you’re right. A hardcover book full of pictures is ideal! I really need to prioritize this and make time for it. Thanks so much for your sweet comment! xo

  5. Hi Erin. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months and I love your organizing ideas. I’ve been looking for ways to organize my three year old little boy’s artwork. I’ll definitely use some of your tips.

  6. Food for thought… you may want to keep a few of your most cherished keepsakes in your safe. I did not do that and lost all of my kids’ artwork that I had been saving when our house burned down. I never thought about putting those in the safe until that happened to us. You can always order new birth certificates, social security cards, etc. but those keepsakes are irreplaceable!

    1. Oh my word Allison – I’m so sorry to hear that your house burned down! That’s awful. I can’t imagine. Such a SMART tip – you are right! I’m going to look into getting a bigger safe for things like this. I certainly care more about these keepsakes than anything else I’d put in a safe! Thank you for sharing! xo

  7. I do the same plastic bins for the bigger artwork. Smaller stuff I just put in a file box separated with a folder for each school year that holds their report cards and other important papers. When I started I was so worried because they seemed really full after elementary but two of my kids are late teens and each year they add just a few sheets of paper. 90% of the bulky stuff was elementary school! Great ideas!

    1. Perfect system Brook! I’m so happy to hear that the paper slows down when the kids get older! I was hoping that would be the case because it sure isn’t in Elementary! :) xo

  8. I have a 11-mth-old, so this post was PERFECT for prevention…rather than intervention later! :)

    I love you and this blog. It’s one of the highlights of my day, to be honest! Pretty sure at least once/week my husband looks at me with curious eyes as I’m giggling on my couch about your posts. It’s like my thoughts *exactly* right on your blog. LOVE IT.

    Also, I was so excited when I saw you were doing a post on building your home – but when I click the link on the sidebar of my blog, it says the post can’t be found? Didn’t know if there was something wrong with my blog or the post.

    Happy Friday –
    Katie :)

    1. Katie! Your comment made me so happy today! Seriously so sweet of you. I’m thrilled you enjoy my blog! Are you talking about the top of my blog where it says “home tour”? I haven’t finished the post for that if that’s what you’re talking about! Still a lot of work I need to do on my new site that I just haven’t had time for yet. But the sidebar stuff should work so let me know what button you were clicking on that wasn’t pulling anything up! Thanks again for your sweet comment! Sounds like the two of us would get along famously. :) xo

      1. I sent you an email with a picture of what I’m talking about – but on the side of my blog is a ‘Family Blogs I Love’ blogroll and it says you posted a new post on 10 things you learned after building your custom home – but when I click it, it doesn’t show up on your blog. Like it doesn’t exist. No biggie either way – just curious :)

  9. Hi Erin! I love your blog. I’ve been reading for years. I always love your organization ideas. My kids are all adults now. There were no digital cameras or helpful apps when I was organizing my kids schools stuff. But I think I had a pretty good system that would work even now. Each kid had a bin for all their art work and school papers for the school year. At the end of the school year I would sort through the bin. This is what I saved: a sample of their handwriting from the beginning of the year and one from the end of the year, any awards, any special drawings that weren’t too big, book reports, papers with nice notes from their teacher and report cards. All of this had to fit in a manila envelope that was 81/2 x 14. On the envelope I wrote the grade, the age, the school year date and the teacher. This envelope went into their individual keepsake bins. In the bin I also kept a three ring binder with plastic sleeves for each child. In the binder went any awards like perfect attendance or student of the month…stuff like that. Also in the binder I put the class picture with all of their classmates…this kind of divided each year. I was able to fit all 12 years of school into one deep Rubbermaid bin which I made them take with them when they left home. :)

    1. Oh my word – LOVE this idea Gerri! It’s so simple and perfect! I may have to switch to a system like that for the smaller stuff because I just don’t have time to scrapbook like I used to. Thank you so much for sharing your system! I can tell this is coming from a wise mom who has been there and knows her stuff. :) xo

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