• Laura Weiler

There's a giant pile of school projects—now what?

Updated: Jul 23, 2018

The school year has ended, the last of the projects and artwork have made their way home, and...maybe they're still sitting in a pile on the dining room table? What to do with all those memories, in so many shapes and sizes—maybe even 3D?

There are many ways to organize kids' artwork and school projects (one folder per kid per year in a file tote; archival boxes; etc.) but here's what works at our house: we make a photo book for each school year. It takes a little time, but the payoff is big: instead of a big box, we have one small book that—and this is the best part—anyone can get out easily and look at whenever they want. And believe it or not, my kids get their books out fairly often. They love looking at their projects, and I love that they can get the books by themselves and look at their art without making a huge mess.

our growing pile of art books

So how do I make them? I used Shutterfly for these books, but pick your favorite—Snapfish, Artifact Uprising, Chatbooks, Mixbook, etc. During the school year, I put anything that might go into the book into a plastic scrapbooking box; its 12x12 size works well for most projects. It goes without saying that if you immediately recycle anything that isn't special enough to save, you'll save yourself a bunch of time at the end of the school year. What can I say? Sometimes that happens, and sometimes it all gets tossed in the box!

a nice neat box that was edited throughout the year...

...and the bulging boxed filled with all. the. papers. Time to edit!

Once you've narrowed it down to the most special things, take photos. I like to use white (or gray) poster board for a nice neat background, and photograph from above looking straight down. Natural light is best; avoid using flash.

Poster board makes a nice clean backdrop for taking photos.

Take your pictures from above, looking straight down, for the best results.

I start with a template and then edit it, but depending on what service you use you may have the option for auto layout. Then tweak it until you're happy! Maybe add pictures, the year's school portrait, notes about their best friends or favorite things or what they want to be when they grow up.

I like to break up artwork with the occasional page of pictures.

Sometimes simple worksheets are interesting when they show the variety of subjects covered in a year.

So there you have it—all the important memories, saved and easy to read...no stray googly eyes or glitter in sight!

I didn't stage this picture—they really do get them out and look through them!

What are your favorite ways to preserve kids' school memories?

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