Keep Your Kids' Artwork Organized

Dec 29, 2009

I sent this idea out (via email) to all of my Mommy friends about a year ago and I decided it’s worthy of a blog post. I don’t come up with a whole lot of good ideas, but I think this is one of them (excuse me as I pat myself on the back).

And, I figured now is the perfect time to post it – the new year is almost upon us. Many of us (if not most) will feel the need to organize our homes and clean out the clutter.

If you're like me, you have a LOT of artwork from your kids that you don't know what to do with. It took me 6+ years of trial and error, but I finally have a system that is working really well (and not taking up a lot of room!)

So, I thought I'd share it - because I would have LOVED advice on this 6 or so years ago.

I went to the craft store, Michaels, and bought 3 matching decorative accordion file boxes, in 3 different colors. (They cost $19.99 but I went three separate times with three 40% off coupons – you know, the ones that always come in the mail or are in the Sunday paper) so they came to $12 each plus tax. I’ve noticed that Hobby Lobby has similar accordion files and they often have a coupon on their website for 40% a single item in their store. You can find their weekly coupon by clicking here.

I also bought decorative letter stickers so that I could "write" each kid’s name on each folder.

Then, using my computer, I made labels for the inside sections - you know, for each grade. (I did not attach the grade stickers on in advance - just in case 2nd grade takes up less room than, let's say, 3rd grade.) I just printed out a sheet of all the grades, stuck on what we needed thus far, and put the rest of the sheet in a back section.

As Jordan or Bennett (and ultimately, Maclain) bring home their "art", I decide what is "keep worthy" and stick it in the current "slot" in the accordion file. The file is larger than 8 1/2 x 11 so it holds pretty big projects. I also save report cards, certificates, notes from teachers, photos that come home from events and things like that in there.

Then, I bought a different kind of accordion file for me and my husband. I divided it into 3 sections -one for each kid. In those slots go the things the kids make for us - you know, birthday cards, notes they write us, pictures they draw of our family, etc. AND, I always save, for myself, handprint and footprint artwork.

This way, when my kids are "old and gone" I can give each of them their folder - to have as a nice memory of their school years - and I have my own folder of special memories and "gifts" from the kids.

Hope this gives you all some good ideas! I bet many of you already have good systems, but since it took me so long to come up with one, I wanted to share it!

One more update to this post:  If the project is really big (like a posterboard or a 3D model) then what I do is take a photo of the child with the project and put the photo in the appropriate grade "slot" and toss the project.  I don't have room to keep all the "big" things -but photos will suffice!


Anne - Mommy Has to Work said...

I've been using plstic bins for mine. one for each year, however, I like this idea better. Less storage. i'm just bad in deciding what to not keep. Thanks for the idea!

Kelly Seiler said...

I trie dthe bin thing, too - but it takes up a LOT of room -especially with multiple kids. Plus, you have to think - they are NOT going to be happy with you if you hand them 12 bins once they graduate! :-) The way I sort is by asking myself questions, such as: Is this really unusually good artwork? or Did they write something funny that will make us all laugh years later? or, Was the sentiment extra sweet? If it's just scribble, or clearly, the teacher did most of the work, I toss it. (I always toss it, though, when they are't home so they don't think Mommy throws out all of their artwork!

kimmie said...

Wow! That's so simple, yet an awesome idea! :)

Michele said...

what an absolutely awsome idea. Trinity's artwork is scattered about the house!! Never thought of that at all. So simple, yet so perfect.

Hope you're having a great holiday season,
all the best in the New Year!!
Keep up the great work. I always look forward to reading your posts.

misya ali said...

hello,i'm from malaysia..i've interested with your layout..can i get the html code for this layout ,please?

Kelly Seiler said...

Sorry - it's a custom template I paid someone to make for me. If you're interested in her work, though, her website is:

Sandy Kiersz said...

Kelly - Great idea! Another idea that has worked for us is to scan the artwork and save it on the computer. We can print out a copy of it if we want to display it; however, at the rate new projects come home, we rarely need to display old projects. Each kid (well, just Christopher right now as Matthew has yet to venture into the world of arts and crafts) has a big folder which is separated into smaller folders by date/grade/etc. This way you can also email copies around to the grandparents! In addition, I also store some of the special holiday artwork with the holiday decorations. So, for example, at Easter when I open my Easter decorations, I have a small collection of Easter artwork to display.

Thanks and Happy New Year!

erica said...

great idea! It'll help me get off to a good start when my daughter starts being able to draw and paint on her own. I also just wanted to let you know that I gave you a "blog award," and you can read about it here:

I hope all is well, and I look forward to meeting with you again in 2010. Happy New Year!

Susan Fobes said...

These are great!

Jen Boner said...

I remembered this post and looked for these accordian files at A.C. Moore today... no luck. They only had plain, clear plastic. Any hints for where to look in Michaels? I'll head there this week to see if I have any better luck. Thanks, Kelly!

Kelly Seiler said...

Try Hobby Lobby. I also saw similar ones at Office Max this week - they weren't quite a tall, but were a little bit wider.

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