How to Save Your Kid’s School and Art Work Without the Clutter (or Guilt)

How to Save Your Kid’s School and Art Work Without the Clutter (or Guilt)

Tips for Organizing School Papers and Art

organizing school papers and art

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Are you buried in an avalanche of artwork and school projects?

The school year is out for some of us, and almost finished for others. Are you staring at a pile of artwork, special projects, and journals your kids brought home? I am.

What do you do with all  this stuff? Has it been piling up throughout the year or have you been filtering through it as you go? Are you feeling guilty about throwing away your kid’s hard work and the memories?

To toss or not to toss?

Either way, if you’re like me, I’m torn.

On one hand, I want to keep so much of it because it’s hard to throw away a lot of these memories.

On the other hand, clutter drives me crazy and I am constantly fighting the battle to check myself against some hoarder tendencies….

Plus, the kids freak out if they find anything they’ve made in the trash, so I have to be careful about how I dispose of the work too!  Such mental and logistical complications…

What Should You Do With All of These School Papers and Artwork?

I’m going to share 2 options – digitize it and/or save it in a simple filing system.

I do a combination of both.

PRO TIP: If you set up this filing system over the summer before school starts, it will make life MUCH EASIER next year. You’ll have the files set up and you can just drop in the best work as you go. The end-of-school-year clutter will be down to a minimum (instead of that avalanche you might be looking at now).

Option 1 – Digitize it

One option is to digitize the work. Create albums from it and throw most of it away.

Shutterfly book

I scan their work using my iPad and the GeniusScan app.  Then, I upload the jpegs to a Shutterfly album and add them into my annual Shutterfly family album. It’s a great way to save the photos for later and have them attached in an archival-quality book you can look back on for years to come.

PRO TIP 1: If you haven’t read the blog on how to create an family photo album that documents all the memories from your year, check that one out too, here’s the link. Having one book with all of the year’s best photos, memories, funny sayings, stories, and artwork is absolutely priceless.

PRO TIP 2: I have an auto-synch from my iPhotos to my Dropbox so that it auto-saves all the photos I take. This is a super easy way to back up photos.

Other Book Options = Kids Art Book Makers

First, let me tell you I haven’t tried these personally as I always go with the Shutterfly option I described above. BUT, with that said, I’ve heard great things about these 2 services. 

Artkive

The Artkive service is very simple. You fill an Artkive Box with your kids’ art and send it back to Artkive. They professionally photograph it and turn it into a keepsake book.

Simple, right?

I know I’d be a little nervous sending off the artwork, in case it was lost. I would recommend photographing/scanning it before you send it, just so you have a back-up.

They also have options to

  • Digitize your artwork WITHOUT the book. This could be a good option if you want to create your own book.
  • Return the artwork after they’ve digitized it. 

PlumPrint is another option that provides the same type of service that Artkive does. In addition to books, they also have options for:

  • colorful note cards,
  • throw pillows,
  • calendars,
  • ottoman poufs, or
  • shower curtains.

Here’s a link for a $20 credit if you want to try this one. 

Option 2 – Simple way to save the best work

I can’t bear to part with the favorites. I love looking at

  • the bee the two-year old created with a wing where his eye should be, and the
  • four year old’s best attempts at spelling his name, and the
  • 7 year old’s short stories (something about aliens and Abe Lincoln).

Can you bear to throw all of this away?

I’ve created a simple system that I thought might help you too.

  1. First, I collect all their work in a big pile, one for each kid.
  2. Then, I pour a glass of wine 🙂
  3. Next, I sort through the work, separating it into “keep” or “discard“. (I do my best to throw this pile away later in the dark of night so that no one sees it and feels that I have ruined their life by throwing away their very best creation).
  4. For the keep pile, I scan as much as I can (see option 1) and then decide which pieces I want to keep. 
  5. Finally, I put all of those “keep” pieces into a folder for their grade-year and store it in a banker’s box. I think it will be fun to look back at it all as they get older.

PRO TIP: I do this process a few times a month during the school year, so that the pile isn’t too big. It takes just 5 minutes or so. If you have a huge pile from the whole school year, don’t worry, you might just need 2 glasses of wine to get through the pile instead of one glass…. 

organizing school papers and art

A few other ideas for using the school work and kid’s artwork:

Here are a few more ideas for using all the kid’s work, and avoiding the guilt of tossing it in the trash:

  • For large pieces of artwork, use them as wrapping paper for grandparent’s gifts.
  • Create a custom gift on Shutterfly. They have tons of options ranging from puzzles, bags, paperweights, notebooks, to ornaments.
  • Turn their stories into a real book. It’s so inspiring for a kid to see their story in a real hard back book. This is simple via Shutterfly or any other bookmaker you like best.
  • Frame your favorite piece, and use that frame for a rotating exhibit. I like those memory box type frames for this purpose.
  • I’ve created a time capsule with some of their favorite baby stuff and keepsakes as they’ve been growing. I’m planning to reveal this at their high school graduation. They’ll probably be mortified but I love having this memory box. Here’s the box I’ve used for all three of mine. It’s the Large Archival Storage box from the Container Store.
  • I’ve heard of but haven’t tried a couple more options:
    • Turn their artwork into a stuffed animal. I think I saw Budsies on Shark Tank but not sure.  Disclaimer: I’ve never tried it, but they look cute!
    • Create custom postage stamps using their art. PhotoStamps is an option for this.
    • Donate to Kids Art for the Cure
 

Note: most of these links are not affiliates (affiliate marketing isn’t my focus for Crushing Motherhood) but a couple of them are. For those that are, I will receive compensation in return for recommending their products, at no additional cost to you. Win-win!

Comments: 9

  • […] I love setting up a folder for each kid per school year in a banker’s box. I save the best work in there. Who knows what will happen to the bankers box later when the kids grow up. I know when my mom gave me a box of stuff she saved, I threw it away. But, it keeps the mom guilt at bay! Here’s a post if you want more detail on this process – How to Save Your Kid’s School and Artwork Without the Clutter (or Guilt) […]

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