It’s that time of year again when kids bring home armloads of schoolwork and artwork and dump them all over our dining table. It makes a mess and the temptation is to sweep everything into the recycling bin! But most of us have kiddos who won’t let us take such drastic measures, so what’s a parent to do? This is my tried-and-true method for organizing kids’ schoolwork + artwork:
1. My son Nathan brings it home and we set aside 20 minutes to sort through it. We focus on keeping original artwork and writing that really showcases his best effort that school year. This means we toss all worksheets. When he was younger and did more coloring, we also recycled all coloring pages and activity pages.
2. I purchase 11″ x 14″ bubble mailers from my local Fred Meyers. I used to use smaller mailers, but I found that the larger size accommodate notebooks and bigger pieces of artwork better, plus they can hold about a 2″-high stack of papers. I also used to use non-bubble mailers, but I found that the bubble mailers hold up better and don’t rip when you try to place a spiral-bound notebook inside.
3. Nathan places that year’s schoolwork inside the bubble mailer. We don’t seal them up. But I do stick a big label on it that says “Nathan — 6th grade.” I like the Avery sticker labels that come two to a sheet. We always stick the label on the same corner of the mailer so when the mailers are all lined up on their side, you can easily read the label.
4. We store the mailers all lined up on the top shelf of Nathan’s closet, along with his other treasures (nature finds, cards from loved ones, etc.)
5. For large, posterboard-sized artwork, I use a portfolio I found at Michael’s Arts and Crafts. The nice thing about the portfolio is that it stores everything flat, so I can slip the portfolio behind his dresser or under his bed. And I have found that one portfolio has sufficed throughout the last 6 years of school. We don’t get him a new one each year.
6. For art “sculptures” (you know — all those 3D crafts made out of toilet paper tubes and craft sticks), I gave Nathan a plastic bin with a lid to store those in. Here’s one similarly sized on Amazon for $18.99. The bin fits neatly on his closet shelf next to all of his bubble mailers of artwork.
7. Finally, we have an art wall upstairs where Nathan displays his favorite pieces of art. One thing that helps to keep this space from getting too messy is to hang everything in a straight line with equal space in between. Using all-matching white pushpins helps too.
That’s our entire system for dealing with artwork and schoolwork at the end of the year. I hope that helps you cope with the avalanche of paper that is soon to descend on your house! Happy Organizing and Happy Summer, everyone!
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