It's about time I got around to condensing, organizing, and preserving my son's artwork- he's 4 and, as I'm sure you can relate, has created enough art is his young life to create quite the gallery. He's been in preschool at least part-time since he was 18 months old and every week would bring home all the art he'd created that week at school. I kept nearly everything from 18 months to 3 years, and then when he started PK3, I knew we'd have a big problem if I couldn't let anything go, so after admiring and talking about each thing he'd made, I'd toss some, but kept everything else in bins.
Now that he just started PK4, I knew I had to tackle this paperwork situation before it was too overwhelming. I posted the pic below on my Instagram, and some kind readers recommended using the Artkive app as a clutter-free way to save and store kids' art. I went to their website and saw that you just take a picture of the art with your phone and "artkive" it with the app. Then, you can create a hardcover book/album with one image on each page (8x8 or 8.5x11). The book must have a minimum of 20 pages and 140 pages max. The app is $4.99 and the book costs $25 (8x8) or $27.50 (8x11) for the first 20 pages, $1 per page thereafter. Or all books from 95-140 pages cost $100 (8x8) or $102.50 (8.5x11). You can customize the pages (if you want) with a title of the image, child's name, grade, and date created.
Other people recommended photographing the art and then using Shutterfly to make a book or the Becky Higgins Project Life app (coming soon). I've yet to make a Shutterfly album of any kind (although I know people love them). I think they can get pricey too, so for simplicity's sake, I think I'm going with the Artkive app.
First thing I knew I needed to do was to photograph each piece of art I wanted to save. (I had already kept the art sorted into two groups: 18-months - 3 years and PK3). I put each piece on a white foam board to keep the background simple, but I know some moms photograph their child holding the art (super cute- I need to do that) or choose another backdrop. I find that the iPhone takes good pictures, especially if you are near a window.
But, it is time-consuming and makes quite a mess in the process. See that little clear space of carpet? That's where I sat for hours photographing the art and taking a sentimental walk down memory lane. I think taking the time to do this is worth it because even looking back on these couple years made me remember how little my son was and how proud he would be when he brought something home to share.
Below is an example of what the pictures look like in the Artkive app.
Of course, I am keeping physical copies of some special items (like the first time James came home with a paper with his name written on it, his report cards, and Christmas program to name a few). And anything that had his picture or handprint or fingerprint, I couldn't let go of.
So, what to do with the art I'm keeping and other important documents I need to have on hand? Since my son is still young, we can fit everything into the small plastic file bin we've been using since he was a baby. I just needed to sort through it, organize it, and make it less "babyish".
The file folders inside before were an olive green and I wanted something cheerier, so I went with an ombre assortment of lime green, light blue, and aqua from The Container Store.
After weeding though what was inside, and tossing what I no longer needed, I wrote on small post-it notes the new name for each folder. I always do this step so I don't waste label tape.
To make the labels pretty, I printed them with my labeler (black ink on clear tape), then used three colors of washi tape as a cute background.
This bin holds: Medical Info (shot records, pediatrician visits); Baby Notes (like the Newborn Baby Tracker journal I used during his first three months- there's an app now, but I'm keeping my book); Baby Shower stuff (cards, notes, etc.); then Preschool from 18 months - 2nd Grade; and 1st - 6th Birthday (invitation, cards).
PK3 is the first year James participated in sports, so I made a quick collage of his school photos and affixed them to a piece of colored card stock with washi tape. Simply handwriting his grade and year was easy, although I will go back and add his teacher's name. I will probably make a back-to-school printable questionnaire to add to the files since they are so fun to look back on.
Seeing as how full the PK3 folder is, I'm sure we will graduate to a bigger box before 2nd grade (I'll probably just separate birthday cards into a separate box), but for now, one small bin will do. Oh the joys of having only one child! :)
As for the papers we are using for this school year, I made a separate binder. I did this last year and found it handy for keeping track of school information as well as sports stuff like the rosters, parents contact numbers, game schedules, and snack schedule.
A pretty notepad and my favorite sharpie pen are perfect for jotting notes.
I need to relabel the tab below (should say PK4!) These are Martha Stewart dividers from Staples that I recycled from another binder.
Phew! I feel so much better now. I just need to order my Artkive album now- I counted a total of 136 pictures for preschool and PK3 (but I also added in a couple of my son on his first day of school to be included in there). I'll let you know how it turns out.
How do you organize and store your children's art? Are the piles making you crazy or are you a good tosser?
You can check out more of our household paperwork organization here and my previous Home Management Notebook.
If you're like me and love organizing, check out my ORGANIZE tab, for more home organization posts.