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Now that the school year is done and over with, you’re probably looking at a pile of paper and feeling overwhelmed with what to do with it. Heck- I was feeling overwhelmed the first month of the school year. I wanted to keep everything since Anakin is my first child to go to school. I enjoyed seeing his progress throughout the school year and I am so proud of how far he’s come. Keeping every single paper was not a tangible solution though since we already have clutter and not enough space to store everything.
So here are two great and doable systems for stress-free management of your kids’ artwork and keepsakes.
Solution One: The Storage Bin
A plastic storage bin is a great way to store your kid’s artwork and keepsakes. It keeps all their items in one central location and can be labeled for easy organizing and moving around. I found this plastic bin on Amazon and hanging file folders in assorted colors that works for me. The plastic bin has metal rails to hold letter hanging folders as well as ergonomic handles for easy carrying and moving around. It stacks securely when the lid is closed- unlike cardboard boxes and the bin is clear so it makes it easy to see what’s inside. The file folders come in a pack of 25 in assorted colors and includes clear plastic tabs with replaceable white inserts for labeling.
I didn’t do anything fancy with the folders accept label them by grade and then I designed and printed these sheets out to stick in each folder. I plan on laminating these once they’re completed each year and secure them unto the front of the folder.
When it comes to making a decision on what to keep and what to toss, there are some factors that makes my final decision easy.
- Toss away anything made with food (e.g. pasta, candy, beans…) because it might attract bugs.
- Toss away scribbles and drawings that won’t retain any sentimental values.
- Toss away pieces that have glitter or lots of paint that will crack.
- Toss away giant pieces that won’t fit into the bin. I usually hang those up on our fridge or in their room temporarily.
- Toss away artwork that are just an assembly of the teacher’s work because they aren’t personal to your child.
- Keep pieces that are personal to your child such as artwork that have their fingerprints or handprints.
- Keep the first few pieces of work brought home so you can see the progress of your child that year. I like to do this and show them how far they’ve come.
- Keep pieces that hold personal stories and shows their personality. I kept this drawing that Anakin did of a dream he had.
I usually have a specific spot for anything Anakin brings home from school each day like a junk drawer or the clear plastic bin so at the end of the year (or trimester) I can purge. Seeing all of the art together makes it easier to decide which pieces you want to keep and which pieces you can let go. Also, the artwork that he seems to be most proud of or the ones I like, I usually hang up for a duration on the fridge. Seeing these pieces gives us a window into their day and their mind.
Solution Two: The Phone App
Another option is to photograph each piece and upload it to your computer or an organizing app like Artkive. This app is great because it lets you organize by child, age and grade, and it’ll even let you add a title or memo to the piece you’re uploading. Once you’re done with the school year, you can choose to make a book out of the pieces you uploaded. Or, if you have more than one kid and don’t have the time to photograph everything every day, they offer the Artkive Box. The Artkive Box works by them sending you an empty box and you send all of your artwork back. They’ll professionally take pictures and edit your pieces, then upload them to your Artkive app. From there, you can view and edit and finalize your book. If you want your artwork back, they can send it back to you or recycle them for you.
Artkive Membership starts at $3/month (organizer), $5/month (creator), or $13/month (book lover).
I tried out the app but found that I prefer the good ole handheld artwork instead because I like comparing how small his hands were and I know he’ll appreciate it too when he’s older. So, tell me if you liked these two options or if you have your own method that has been working for you. Like I said, I’m a newbie school mom so I’d love to hear what other parents have been doing for their child when it comes to managing their artwork.