We all know it. We all think it’s cute for a few weeks. And then… we hate it. Papers. Backpacks overflowing with student’s work. Deep down, as emotional beings, there is a little part in us that believes we should be treasuring our kids’ school work but oh… my… goodness, it is A LOT!
As a teacher, I understand how much work students do, be it classwork, stations work, projects, etc. As a mom, I love seeing what my children produce and how much they learn throughout the year. But as a woman who absolutely hates clutter, I despise how much comes home! Not long after my children started daycare, I started to feel like I needed a system. I needed some way to organize all of this beautiful junk. I took to Pinterest, as usual, to see if I could find something and I did.
I found a post that showed how a mom used a hanging file folder box to organize her children’s work by grade level. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think about that?! I went to Walmart and purchased two Sterilie plastic boxes with lids.
I can’t find where they are listed online in Walmart, but they are definitely available in store. They are also stackable, which is essential if you have more than one child and want to save space!
They are the perfect size to hang legal sized hanging file folders. I chose hanging folders that were advertised to show folder tabs. I figured it would be beneficial when adding folders by grade level later on. I used my Cricut to create their name labels to go on the boxes. But you could easily head to a craft store like Michaels or Hobby Lobby and grab some alphabet stickers in sizes and colors of your choice! If you’re artsy, you can freehand it! Possibilities are endless.
Then I added manilla folders labeled with age range for daycare ages, and then grade levels. It was all ready to go!
I knew what my goal was, to keep everything organized, but then I had two more questions:
- How do I make everything fit?!
- What do I do all year long? I have no time to actually file everything away everyday… or every week… or every month. There’s just not that much time in the world for a working mom.
I decided to designate one space, one container, for all things paperwork. I trained my kids to give me their papers everyday. I’d briefly look through them, admire and express how great everything looked (even if it didn’t, haha), and then placed them in our blue cubby. Your space could be anywhere! I liked mine out of sight. I didn’t want to see the stack of papers everyday. After a while, I realized it could even be used for award certificates given throughout the year, teacher notes, notes/drawings from their friends, and artwork or even coloring sheets done at home. It was our “I want to save this” box. My oldest son knew when he was done with artwork at home, he would either place it in the “I want to save this” box or in our paper recycling bin. By the end of the school year, our box looked like this:
It literally only took me 10 minutes to go through what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to get rid of. It’s safe to say my son was a little confused when he saw me going through it and putting some of his “I want to save this” work in the recycling bin, haha. However, I explained to him that I was saving all of his best work and recycling the rest. He was O.K. with that. It’s an added bonus that things are stacked the way it is because when going through everything and sorting it, it then naturally gets stacked in chronological order, so then when filing them away, you can actually see progress your child has made throughout the year!
After a few minutes I went from the photo above to this:
On the left is my oldest son, Lucas’ stack. On the right is Louie’s stack. As previously mentioned, all of the papers are now in chronological order. Even for me, as a teacher, I was shocked to see all of their progress from 9 months ago to now! The taller bin to the far right is our paper recycling bin, which is almost full. I realized I didn’t want to keep many worksheets, and not all of their artwork was needed to keep. I kept a little bit of every type of item/subject just so I could get a feel for how their year was.
After that was done, it was super easy to just file their work into the appropriate age range and grade level and presto, done! The blue cubby is now empty and ready for next year!
It is a quick project that saves loads of time and creates lots of organized memories! Try it out! 🙂 Put your own spin on it to fit your needs!