documenting school papers + artwork

documenting school papers + art work in a personal yearbook project life style ==>

confession time: i have lots and lots of school papers + artwork from quinn that are in a big crate. it is not organized. i don’t have a system figured out yet. and it will keep growing until i need another crate if i don’t do something about this soon. and tate has just started preschool, so his paper pile has just begun. this makes me sad because there are so many sweet memories inside of this crate that deserve to be documented and seen instead of being buried in a big pile of papers.

i’ve been trying to figure out a system for organizing + documenting all of this paper. right now i save everything. and i mean every single thing. i  just can’t bring myself to throw out anything because my boys made them and i’m a super sentimental mom. and if i try to part with a few things here and there and quinn happens to see it in the recycle bin, he gets it out and asks how it got in there – to which i reply, “i have no idea!” so, until i know for sure  i won’t need it or i can definitely live the rest of my life without drowning in mommy guilt over throwing it away, the pile in the crate continues to grow.

i’ve searched pinterest for ideas and bought file boxes + folders with good intentions. but all of quinn’s papers have just ended up in a big pile in that crate. and now there is tate’s pile of papers too. getting all of this organized + figuring out a system to document it all is just one more thing on my ever growing to do list. i want to do it, but i just haven’t figured out what to do with all of the paper. sound familiar?

well, guess what? i found my solution!  i found a way to organize and document all of the paper memories for the boys.

first, i watched this video from becky higgins about organizing kid’s stuff. this got me motivated to get all of the papers organized by school year because i’m a bit obsessed about having things in chronological order.  the most important thing i learned from this video was to put each child’s name and the date on the back of all papers as they go into the dumping basket or crate. this way you can easily go back and sort the papers when you have time.

but what was i going to do with all of the papers? well, document them all project life style of course! and this time i’m going completely digital.

last week, becky higgins released the new digital personal yearbook mini kit. and as soon as i saw this kit, i knew exactly what to do with all of the papers in that crate!

i’m making a personal yearbook for each of my boys to document all of their school papers + artwork – and i’m doing it digitally!


here is the plan:

  • the personal yearbook will include all paperwork – school work, drawings, art work and crafts made either at home or at school.
  • each of my boys will have his own basket to put his papers into each day. i will go through it at the end of every month to sort into either the keep + scan pile or the recycle pile. (yes, i will make a decision right on the spot to not keep every single thing. this will be hard, but i want to keep in mind that by letting go of the majority of the papers it means that the important stuff can have a special place in their books.)
  • i will scan or take photos of all of the paper work + art work. going digital is the plan!
  • i am going to keep up with the sorting, scanning + photos throughout the month. the plan is to do a little each week so i’m ready to put the digital pages together at the end of the month.
  • i will file or recycle all papers into one “keep box” for each of the boys. after scanning and photographing the papers, i will then keep only a small selection of the best/cutest/most favorite/special pieces of artwork. the rest will go into the recycle bin since we already have a digital copy of them for the book.
  • i am going to include photos of the boys at school or making their artwork. i’m a photographer and i love to document with photos so naturally photos will be a part of this project. but just a few photos here and there. this is not the same thing as the yearly photo books i’m making for each of my boys (see quinn’s book here.) this personal yearbook will focus on the paperwork and the yearly photo books will focus on the photos.
  • throw away the rules and include whatever i want. when i first started to think about this project, i was set on including only school related paperwork. but then i realized that quinn has lots + lots of drawings he has made at home. and where would i put them? well, this is his personal yearbook, so i will include it all in this book.
  • i am doing this digitally! i’m going to be scanning + photographing all of the paperwork, so it just made sense to keep it all in the digital format. the plan is to create the 12×12 page layouts using all of the wonderful new project life page templates and save them each month. at the end of the summer (i want to include their summer artwork too), i will have the books printed.

tate’s personal yearbook:

i was so excited when this idea clicked in my head that i immediately started working on tate’s personal yearbook. he just started preschool and only has a small pile of papers. so it was a smaller project to tackle. sort, scan, photograph and assemble in photoshop = done!

so here are the first few pages of tate’s personal yearbook…

the first page: i printed out the card on the top right and had tate write his name on it. then i scanned this card and inserted it into this page layout. i also added a simple white card with a description of this book and tate’s first day of school photo.

documening paper memories for kids project life style ==>


documening paper memories for kids project life style ==>

left side: tate’s first day of school photos (collage photo template from the simply white collection v3), scanned drawings and a poem the teacher gave the me on tate’s first day of preschool. his class has a theme every month, so i added that on the month card.documening paper memories for kids project life style ==>

right side: more school photos, a photo of some artwork, journaling about tate’s first day of preschool and a favorite memory from this month.documening paper memories for kids project life style ==>


documenting school papers + art work in a personal yearbook project life style ==>

left side:  artwork, tracing letters and cards from the personal yearbook mini kit.

documening paper memories for kids project life style ==>

right side:  i love to take photos of the boys in their school so they can see it all one day. this month’s photos included cookie day, tate’s lunch (no, i don’t make his name in cheese letters everyday – this was a special treat), pick-up and outside his classroom. more artwork and a favorite memory.

documenting school papers + art work in a personal yearbook project life style ==>

i am already working on putting quinn’s personal yearbook together. i sorted, tossed and scanned his preschool papers this past weekend. scanning was a pretty fast process and i’m already well on my way to getting his entire preschool book completed!

the goal for this project is not perfection. it is about getting it done + documented.

tell me how do you organize and document your kid’s school papers and artwork?

(this is not the same personal yearbook project that i am working on with quinn’s class. you can see more about that project here.)

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natasha klein - Hi I would love to hear more as the time goes by whats working and not !
what scanner do you use? I have 4 years for my daughter to do and 3 years of my son! yikes! thanks

Molly - REALLY like your style of documenting your child’s school experience. I am new to project life and have decided on family yearbooks and then individual books for each of my children that act as a school yearbook. This post was very inspiring for me! Thank you for sharing!

Chris - Could you please tell me what kind of scanner you have?

Michelle @ Raising Will - I love this kit so much – can’t wait until my boys are at school age. Can I ask what font you’ve used on the front page description card? I addoooorre it!

rhonda - um this is AWESOME!!!!! What an awesome idea for all the art!!

I don’t know if it will make you feel better about throwing away, but my mom was a keeper. An everything keeper. She has brought me boxes of random papers I drew on from my entire childhood. (And the crazy woman did it for all the 7 kids in my family!) I really ended up throwing a lot of it out. It’s cool to see some, but a lot of it was just overwhelming! I love the idea of scanning it and throwing the rest away!

Chrisy@GoodNorthCoastLife - Ok, how awesome is all of that?
Love your approach, Love Liz’s new PL kit…and most of all l love ‘throw away the rules and include whatever i want’ l think we need to be telling ourselves and each other that a lot more often. 
At the moment all of my daughter’s artwork/school work is in multiple piles in my office. I have plans to tackle her yearbooks next year. Once l get my week at a glance PL album finished for 2013, l hope to get stuck into her albums. When l do l’ll be revisiting this post for sure.

Tricia - Thank you so much for the inspiration. I label all pieces I might want to document. I put the date and name on back and throw them in a basket. I purge throughout the year with a major purge at the end of the year. I use large Manila envelops. 1 per child for each year. I include fun facts, milestones, fav teacher, best friend, sports, grade, age and year on the front. I also list their triumphs and tribulations. I put their individual and class pic in the envelope. They each have their own storage box under the bed. The
Bigger things get put in the box with their yearbooks. I have a folder on my computer for each year. I put any school related pics in there and a few others to document their personalities. Everything is well organized and are simply waiting for me to get started. My first major project will be the scanning. What kind of scanner do you use? Can’t seem to decide. Thanks.

Fiona - Awesome! I love the look of this book! I bet the boys will love it too :)

Karen Main - This is brilliant. I have a book for each child with all their school art and certificates in pockets by year. It is very crowded and full. This is stylish, arty and easier to look at and appreciate in years to come. Wow how to get started catching up.

Katy - Didn’t think to do an all digital book for my boys school stuff. Good idea! And something I have to remind myself when purging/weeding out stuff and figuring out what to keep: If you keep everything, nothing will be special. (did I hear that on Becky Higgins video?) Wherever I heard it, I love it and try to remember it. By keeping too much stuff, the sheer quantity makes none of it seem all that special. But if you scale down to the things you really want to save, those items become more significant…or something like that. Hope I’m explaining it right!

Cindy Fuda - Loving this post! Totally inspiring me to start documenting my son’s craft creations. He’s nearly 3 and only goes to Playgroup once a week, but there’s always craft and he simply loves to draw and paint, so this post has given me some great ideas. Thank you!

Jen - Thank you for this! I am in the same boat with my two boys’ school/project memorabilia. It just keeps piling up because I plan on doing this project digitally as well, and just need to take the time to scan it. I love your plan and the first few pages.

Rhian - Wow! Where were you and this post 10 years ago?.. I have 4 kids aged 13-8 and I have a cupboard FULL of their school and Art work. The amount I have is ridiculous but Have never been able to throw it away. This idea if FANTASTIC. Looks like my Summer holoday is going to be very, very busy as I start working through it all to make into books like this. Genius!

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Jen - I have decided to keep personal books for my kids as well. I scan some things and use Artkive to make a book but I am doing a physical book too. I use the actual artwork as much as possible. I label all the work and keep in folders in a big clear box. I will do this for each school year. Are you doing it all digital so that you can throw out the original art work?
I am still trying to find a way to highlight it without putting it all in the book and I don’t think I can part with any of the actual papers.
Any advice?

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