How to Organize Kid’s School Papers

Every day my kids come home from school and one of their first jobs as part of their after-school routine (read more about that here) is to empty their school folders.  Some days my entire kitchen island is chock-full of school papers.  So, how do you organize your kid’s school papers?  What do you keep?  Where do you keep it?  And the most popular one – Is it okay to toss school work in the trash?

It’s important to have a plan so you can know confidently what to do, what to keep and toss without guilt.  Now you know me, It can’t be too complicated or I won’t follow through.  It must be simple and purposeful.   I am going to share with you the simple way we have found to tame the school paper monster and store the special papers as keepsakes!


How do you organize your kid’s school papers?

Sort The Papers Daily

Every day after school I go through my kid’s paper.  Inevitably, there’s a math paper, a cut and paste paper, possibly a writing assignment and occasionally an art project although the majority of art projects come home at the end of the year for us!  I look over everything and then determine items I might want to save long-term.

Things I like to keep include –

A funny or meaningful story

A special art or craft project

Math test or work the demonstrates grade-level learning

End of the year report cards

School Pictures


If you are not sure you should keep it or save it (within reason, you don’t need to save everything) go ahead and keep it for now.  You will have another opportunity to pare down later!  I toss whatever I don’t want to keep in the trash or recycling bin.  It’s okay to not keep everything, let that be my encouragement to you!



Record Date & Name on Papers Before You Store Them

This is key!  I have mom brain and I think I will remember what grade level and child this work belongs to but inevitably in the early years before I did this I forgot.  So, when you sort a paper you want to keep, write the child’s name, grade level and current date on the back or top corner of the paper.



Store the Papers in A School Bin

I place all the kid’s paperwork into these plastic hanging file folder boxes.  We now are the proud owners of 4 boxes!  As I collect things throughout the year, I just pop them into the corresponding hanging folder.  You can store these totes in your basement, closet or pantry.

The important thing is not so much the location but the boxes need to be accessible so you can easily stow papers away.  You don’t want have to get out a ladder or go to lots of trouble or you won’t do it, or maybe that’s just me.



What do you need for your bin?

**Click the link, to shop now**

Hanging File Folders (pack of 20) 

Simple Purposeful LIving DIY School Organization Accessory Kit (SHOP HERE)

File Box (I suggest the bigger size – 18.5 x 14 x 11)


Once a Year, Pare Down

You will have an influx of paperwork at the end of the year.  You can do a quick sort as we talked about above but often times I can be very sentimental when I am close to something so I like to wait until mid-summer when I am emotionally removed from the situation so I can objectively pare down further what I want to keep.

I re-sort the folder for that grade level and possibly the previous grade levels, only keeping my very favorites.  I am only keeping one bin per child for all school paperwork so I need to save room.  Ultimately, I know as an adult that’s all I wanted when my mom gave me all my things when I got my big girl house ;)!


What about their artwork?

We also have an art gallery made out of these Ikea curtain rods that we clip artwork on.  Our kids, as I said, bring all their artwork home at the end of the year so I ask them which ones are their favorites and we display those for the next year on our gallery wall.  After that year, then I pick a favorite or two to keep on the wall or store in their school bins.

My mom has framed 3 of our art pieces that were her favorites and they are displayed in the grandkid’s bunk room at the lake.  I hope to do the same as my kids get older and favorites emerge!



What about school pictures, sports photos, and other photographs?

We display the current year’s school photos as well as their current year’s sports photos.  All previous years, I pull out when I put the new one in the frame. I make sure to record their name, date and grade level and then save those in their school bins as well.

Sometimes, I will print pictures or kids bring home photographs from a school year and I’ll store those as well.



What about odd-sized artifacts?

We display some of the items like trophies, medals, pottery pieces in our kid’s bedrooms on their dressers.  As that area fills up, we transition the item to be stored in a bin in the top of their closet (since we don’t access it as often).  This bin houses items from when they were born (like what they wore home from the hospital) and other keepsakes they were given that don’t fit in the school bin.

As they age and the box fills up, we will get input from our children as to what to keep and what to toss but so far there’s still plenty of room!


What about special papers they have given to you?

Scott and I each have a special drawer in our bedside tables that we store special gifts, cards, and items our kids want to gift us.  As the drawer gets full, we sort out our favorites.

What about electronic items?

As your kids grow, more and more will be stored online.  You can create a file for each child on your computer and save a copy of that file.  Make sure you name it something specific and date it just like you would a paper copy.  You can also print a copy and store in the file system.  We have printed special emails and stored the paper copy.

Just Remember…

Keep it simple.  If you aren’t sure, save it for now and pare down at the end of the year or as your child ages and you need to make room.  It is okay though to throw things away.  Remember, your child won’t want everything.  Save the highlights.  When your child gets ready to graduate, you can simply pull out items to display at their graduation!

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Building Family Room Shelves

Oh my gosh it has been too long since I did a house update post.  We loved our house when we moved in and picked all the paint colors, flooring, etc so there wasn’t anything major to change BUT once we moved in I realized our fireplace wall would look better flanks symmetrically by two shelves, I wanted built-ins for a more finished look for our long-term home.  I didn’t want to just get something I liked so we waited until I thought I had what I wanted mapped out in my head.  Scott is great because I give him the vision and we work out the nuts and bolts together and then away he goes to Home Depot to get the supplies and constructs.  He was quite willing because he got a new “toy” for Christmas and he couldn’t wait to try it out — a nail gun and compressor!

Okay so last we left, we had ripped the backs off of these hammy down but lovely shelves (one currently lives in Solon’s bedroom and the other is in storage in the basement).  That mirror has since seen a makeover and has been moved!

This is day 2 after we moved in to give you what we started with…

 So this is where we started.  I wanted low shelves, I can’t stand too much clutter and I may still enclose them at some point but for now they are fine (one is partially covered by our chair).

Okay then I went to Ikea and got 2 more large square ribba frames, made some word art and put those up symmetrically.  I have major issues with things being “even”.  I then went on a lamp hunt….I mean, I brought 6 different lamps home from TJ Maxx and Target (oy vey – the return guy thought I was nuts!).  I knew what I wanted and
So as a place filler, we took our bedroom lamps and took them downstairs, our family room was in sore need of additional lighting on that side of the room and it worked great, but they were kind of blah…but still nothing better!
One of the axed lamps – cute just too small and not substantial enough – I seriously am so picky sometimes!
So low and behold one day while at Target I actually saw some lamp shades I had brought home on a different lamp on clearance for $7 a piece…and I hemmed and I hawed and you know me, I didn’t get them, because I stink at impulse decisions and then I kicked myself and prayed the random blue bird shades would still be there a few days later and they were – they are kind of taste specific and out there but they were just the “pop” o’color I was looking for and a little feminine in a leather dominated room!

Don’t mind the real-life cart track hanging off my shelves…
I also am digging the wall art I seriously made as place holders since I wanted the art up before a party but knew I would be slow as a snail in ordering prints for those slots….and now I think I might leave them for a while!

I whipped them up on my silhouette and printed them off on cardstock – I had myself some cute little type-art print for pennies.  Win-win!

So even though I can’t stamp this project FINISHED because the shelves need to be painted, that won’t be done until spring break when the kids and I vacate and the enamal fumes don’t eat us alive!
I will be back with post-pictures when I remember ;)!

Snow Ice Cream

Note:  My computer is being a tad temperamental.  Earlier today it wouldn’t turn on all the way, so I gave it a little time and voila, it’s temporarily working!  I am going to take advantage and hopefully get a few blog posts in!

In an effort to be fun parents, one night after dinner we decided to make snow ice cream (I pinned it on pinterest).  I was surprised at how simple the recipe was — milk, a little vanilla, a dash of salt and 8 -10 C snow.  I sent the kids and daddy out in their comfies to get the snow while I mixed up the other ingredients.  They were so excited!

Then we all took turns mixing it up and the kids added some toppings….
….and their reaction was laughable and underwhelming.  
Let’s chalk up snow ice cream as fun but a fail as far as eating it.  They enjoyed the process more than eating it and Scott and I agreed.  We thought it would be better to make snow into snow cones.  The ice cream had an oddly snow cone-esque watery taste.  Anyway it was cheap and provided some fun this long winter.

DIY Grandmother Gift

What do you get a Grandma for Mother’s Day?  Well you make her a modern-artsy gnome for her gnome garden of course.  And did my children ever have fun. They did such a nice job cooperating and painting, I might buy 1 million more!  They were so focused and proud of their hard work.  I asked Solon what he thought Grandma would say and he said, “she will say I love it so much, great job!” and since we gave it to her early, we know that is exactly what she said.

She has to poly him to weather the weather.  In addition to this little “art” installation, I also treated mom to a mom-daughter shopping date. I hired a babysitter and away we went but then she treated me so not sure if that counts???  I did treat to frozen yogurt but then she treated to dinner….hmm….well we had fun and we showered her with love….Happy Mother’s Day Mom to the mom that taught me how to be a mom! I owe you so much.  I now know just how much you love me! THANKS!

DIY Wreath Craft

My mom always has made beautiful homemade wreaths.  She made me some when we moved into our house but after 6 years of being on the front door, they were looking a little worn.  So I found my inner-Cindy and pulled out the glue gun and got to work…the front door wreath is more elaborate since it is sheltered but the light wreaths for either side of the garage door are a little more simple as I didn’t want the bulbs breaking…I am pretty proud of my skills, thanks mom for passing on your wreath making skills….

The outdoor light wreaths

Close-up of the front door wreath

Front Door Wreath

The outdoor light wreaths
Still working on the bows but I am getting the hang of it…I have since done 3 more for my new lit garland on the mantle…and yes our tree is up!  Why not?!

DIY Bow Holder

I have been wanting to make V a bow holder for the few bows she owns.  I had this photo holder and some extra ribbon so I decided to whip a little somthin-somthin up the other day during nap – yep you can call me productive with this 5 minute project…

I love my glue gun….we have a love-hate relationship – I have the scars to prove it BUT all I did was first do an old cheerleading trick and seared the ends of the ribbon with a lighter to prevent them from fraying.  I then fed the ribbon through the brackets on the back of this board and glued them and folded them over, and then tied the other 2 ends together to make a fancy southern girl-type bow on top.  The best part was organizing all the bows (you all know I love me some organizing)…the headbands I just tucked under the ribbon…
I placed it behind Vera’s door so I don’t have to look at it all the time but I can quickly pick a bow in the morning to match her outfit…which these days she will wear for about 5 minutes before removing it…

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