Summer of Organization: Kids School Work

My kids are only one and three years old, and already the school work they bring home is overwhelming. We bring it in from the car every day, ooohh and ahhhh over it appropriately, and then put it in a pile on our kitchen counter where it will sit for two or three weeks until I get tired of looking at it and throw the entire pile into the trash. Then, Chris will snap at me that I am not sentimental enough and that I’m trashing our children’s childhoods and I will take a flashlight and go out to the trashcan at the end of our driveway in my pajamas at 10:00 at night and try to dig out memories. Which will then be placed on the kitchen counter in a pile that I will throw out when I get tired of looking at it.

Those finger paintings are vicious instigators, I tell you.

A while ago on Pinterest, I found this nifty way to sort and keep paperwork your kids bring home. I pinned it, but never had the time or money to buy all the supplies to organize myself. And then, a co-worker gave me some office supplies they weren’t using and lo’ and behold! It was the exact stuff I needed for my little project!

Here’s what you need:

A crate or hanging file organizer
12 hanging files per child
Hanging file tabs

I forgot to take a picture of my hanging file crate, but here is one very similar from OfficeMax. Mine has wheels so that I can wheel it into our closet, but you could go with whatever you need.


Next, you label each hanging folder with a year in school. I started with ages because my kids are in daycare, so I have One Year Old, Two Years Old, Three Years Old, Four Years Old, and then I begin the years in school – kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, etc.


Because I have two kids, I have two sets of file folders in this crate. If I had the money and time, I would go out and buy pink hanging files and blue hanging files to color code the kids, but instead I just put their name on each folder to help me distinguish. All of Bean’s folders are in the front and all of Gracie’s are in the back.

On Friday afternoon while I was out of school and the kids were still in daycare, I sorted through the keepsake artwork that I had shoved into my jewelry box drawer over the past couple years. I put the artwork into the correct child and correct year. It was easy, quick, and when I was done, I had half a drawer freed up!


As for what I chose to keep, I am picky with what I hold onto. Anything that they just color, trace, or is pre-printed like a worksheet, I toss. If it is handmade by the kids, then I usually hold onto it if it’s in good quality. And anything with a finger, hand, or footprint is a definite keeper! I’m a sucker for my kiddos tiny body parts! I also keep most things that have an actual picture of the kids. Here are a few things I held aside for Gracie:

Her first Thanksgiving poem…


Her first Christmas ornament…


Bean had a few more items to save because he’s a little older and his artwork is actually made by him now. I saved this little rain cloud with his name spelled out because it was the first time he spelled his name out at school. Plus, I thought this was a really cute project!



And I saved this little construction paper duck because Bean Man made it all by himself – he even cut out the legs!


I also saved this finger painting because I thought it was super creative. Bean had to move his hands to the music they were listening to. So, sometimes he moved them around quickly, and sometimes slowly, and sometimes he tapped his fingers to the beat. Isn’t that clever?


My all-time favorite art project we’ve gotten, though, was before Gracie was even born. It was a finger print family that Bean made at his old daycare when he was a wee one. Isn’t it the sweetest? I got all teared up the day he brought it home because we were just about to have Gracie and I was so worried about Bean adjusting to her.



I also threw in some of their birthday cards from each year, along with notes from their teachers or ticket stubs to events that we went to as a family. I’m not crafty or patient enough to scrapbook, so these hanging folders work great for me. It gives me a place to put our family memories without having to put a whole lot of time into it. Super easy, super quick, super cheap. All three SUPER important to me!

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13 Thoughts to “Summer of Organization: Kids School Work”

  1. I feel like you were writing about me, I am not sentimental AT ALL! Thankfully, with 2 boys, hopefully they’ll never notice. But I am going to copy you and do this hanging folder project. Perfect, quick, and like you said, it fits in my closet!

  2. Tracy

    Great idea! I need to do this for my girls. Thankfully it is summer so there is a break from all the papers that come home every day. I know you have mentioned this before, but what is your name on Pinterest so I can follow you? Thanks!

  3. Another good idea for the ones that you are “maybes” on keeping is take a photo and then make a photo book. This is especially helpful as kids get older and bring home more “stuff” for you to keep.

  4. Angela

    Bean Man actually had pretty neat printing on the cloud project! The duck is also pretty impressive

  5. Chloe

    Love this post and love the finger paint to music, that is so so cool!

  6. September

    Maybe this makes me a bad mother but I don’t keep anything. That’s not quite true…I’ve probably kept two or three things total for each kid (they’re 6 and 8), and I do keep the Christmas ornaments, but that is IT. My mother is a purger, and I don’t have all of that stuff from my childhood and it’s never bothered me, and about ten years ago when my in-laws moved out of their house she dumped on us about ten boxes of all of my husband’s childhood crap…every project, fingerprint project and finger painting he’d ever touched. We didn’t need or want the stuff and into the dumpster it went and neither of us has looked back.

    I may have to pay for therapy but on the bright side I won’t have been hauling around boxes of baggage in the interim!

  7. I love this idea! My mom has so much of my stuff in tubs all over the house. This is so much more efficient. Great idea for the future!

  8. HeatherM

    Is there anything else you can turn into a Christmas ornament? I turn all kinds of things into Christmas ornaments- the key when we bought our home, the fake decoy ring my husband put under the Christmas tree to throw me off the year he proposed to me, cute family photos, etc. photos go in the hanging picture frame ornaments that I grab in the after-Christmas sales. I suppose things with a little hand or foot could also go in those frames. For anything not on paper, like the key or the ring, I just put a piece of ribbon through it and write on the ribbon the date and the event/ importance in sharpie on the ribbon. I decorate most of the Christmas tree myself, but I save these special sentimental ones for last, and we hang them on the tree together. I like making things into ornaments because it lets us pull things out and admire them and get sentimental once a year, without having to look at all of the stuff year-round.

  9. Rachel @ The Ongoing Planner

    Super cute idea and that helps to limit it to a couple items every year so it doesn’t get too overwhelming!

  10. That is a great idea!! I’m super un-sentimental so I have approximately 0 things saved so far for my 4 & 1 year old. Now I feel bad : ( First off we don’t do nearly enough art projects, secondly, so far they haven’t seemed “keep” worthy, I promise to start now!!

  11. I”m a stay at home mom and reading this made me realize I don’t have much to save from the wee little years. Sure I do a few things with the kids but since I help them make it or I cut out all the pieces I don’t feel so sentimental that he made it for me. I don’t have much saved at all…maybe I should.

  12. We live in a tiny house so I don’t have space to keep much. Here is what I with Porter’s art projects from daycare: we put anything Porter made that we absolutely love on the fridge, and then rotate that out when new things come in. After it comes off of the fridge I determine what is a “keep” and what is a “share.” “Keep” stuff we obviously keep for the archives. “Share” stuff are drawings and projects we mail out to our family since our closest family member is about 500 miles away. They LOVE getting Porter projects in the mail since we are lucky to see our relatives even once a year!

  13. […] Over the summer, I found this great organizing tool on Pinterest that helped me create a filing system for the kids artwork. You can read about that project here. […]

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