Keepsake Bins: Organizing Your Child’s School & Art Work

Masterpiece after masterpiece has been posted to your refrigerator door. Second grade poems of “Roses are red, violets are blue, you’re my mom, and I love you!” and finger painted butterflies have been strewn on intricately designed clotheslines on your walls (thanks, Pinterest!), or placed in frames to be displayed for a short while until the next A+ comes along. While it is so important to display your child’s hard work and creativity, we know the question on every parent’s mind when another piece comes home stuffed inside their backpack — Am I supposed to save e v e r y t h i n g? The answer is no, but there is an efficient way that you can save the important pieces all in one place where they will be kept safe and organized for you and your child to look back on for years to come.

Keepsake bins are an easy way to compile all of your child’s important documents, school workpieces — essays, speeches, awards, report cards, school photos — and the endless pieces of artwork in the early years of education. Using a file system, organized by year, will keep it easy to build, maintain, and enjoy from childhood to adulthood. Pinterest offers a number of filing options, from binders to boxes to entire filing cabinets, but what we love most about using a plastic file box with a snap on lid is its easy portability, storage, and some brands sold are even waterproof — such as the Container Store’s Watertight File Box — protecting your precious documents from household emergencies or damp basements! We also love the option to personalize it, adding your child’s name in a fun print that matches their personality.

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What You’ll Need



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As you begin, decide the number of years you would like to keep in your child’s keepsake bin. Each folder will count for one year. Plan for at least 13 folders to cover grades Kindergarten through their senior year of high school. If you would like to include important documents and photos from infancy or early childhood, including a folder for each year of the child’s life. Using the tabs on your hanging file folders, label each folder accordingly. If you have leftover folders, include them in the back of the bin along with blank tabs to be used as extras if you run out of room one year or another category if one presents itself. For example, if your child is particularly talented in an area — such as music, dance, or sports — you may choose to dedicate a folder to that particular talent.

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Next, prior to placing the folders into the file bin, label the bin with the child’s name using the large alphabet stickers. You may choose to label the front or side of the bin depending on the length of your child’s name. Another fun option is adding your child’s current school picture to the outside of the box. As each new year starts, toss last year’s school picture into the appropriate folder and add this year’s new photo to the front. It will not only be a good reminder to get the box out and prepare for the new influx of paperwork but will also be a fun way to see how much your child has grown in the course of a year!

Tip: Use a ruler and a thin-tip dry erase marker to draw out a straight line for your letters. Cut out the letters and place them on the side of the bin to judge spacing before permanently sticking them onto the side of the bin.

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Finally, place the folders in the bin in ascending age from front to back. After folders have been placed in the bin, you can begin filling them with all of those important and loved pieces you have been hanging onto, and look forward to filling it with so much more in the years to come!

Tips to Keep the Box Organized:

  • Decide on a theme for your box and stick to it. If you want to include your child’s school work, artwork, and pictures throughout the year, it’s probably not the best place to also keep their shot records, medical records, birth certificate and any other really important documents that should be kept separately in a safe place. Remember, your child will want to look through this box, and should! Keep it a fun experience for them and YOU! (Hint: Build another bin for all those other important documents.)
  • Don’t save everything. As a parent, it’s hard to open the trash can and toss a piece of paper in that your child has worked really hard on… even if it is just scribbles from a two-year-old. But, in actuality, your child probably doesn’t even remember doing half of the artwork they bring home at such a young age. Pick your favorite pieces, or let them pick, and let the others go. For older children, they are bound to write something they are truly proud of, earn a grade they worked really hard for, or receive a positive comment from a teacher on a piece of work that excited them. Hold onto those.
  • Keep a checklist. It may be helpful to make up a checklist of must-have items in each folder: school picture, report cards, best artwork, best school work, and certificates/awards. Use the checklist each year so that each folder continues along the same lines, making it easier to save (and toss!) as well as compare and contrast the various years of the past. While the keepsake box is a great tool for organizing all of the school papers that come each year, and a great memory tool, it can also be used as a guide for parents and teachers. If your child is struggling in a certain subject, simply pulling out previous report cards can help determine whether this has been an on-going issue or an issue that just started, both very important factors to look into.
  • Reorganize at the end of each year. As the school year closes, revisit that year’s folder and decide whether or not all items in the folder are worth keeping. Editing your folder will ensure that only the important and most precious items are kept.

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Now that you’ve organized your child’s school work, it’s time to tackle your home! Check out our 31 Day Organization Challenge: House Edition for some great tips!

Photo credits: St. John Photography, rawpixel on Unsplash




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Stephanie High
Stephanie High
Stephanie is a military wife, currently residing in North Carolina, and mama of two exceptionally curious little ones; a rugged pint-size princess and a mini Evel Knievel-in-training. When she isn't exploring the family's newest dwellings, running trails, and playgrounds, she spends her down time working from home, feverishly correcting "textspeak" in her college students' essays as an adjunct English instructor for a local community college. Her passion for writing and photography can be found on her personal blog Living Our High Life.