Organize Kids’ School Papers


Yesterday when I walked into Walmart, the Back-To-School aisle caught me off-guard. Sudden memories of backpacks stuffed full of paper came to mind. Anyone else find themselves on paper overload once school starts again?

Because it can be a challenge to appreciate, display, and store schoolwork and memorabilia, here are five tips to help you solve this problem before it even starts. And for more tips to organize paper, including that awful pile on your kitchen counter, click HERE.

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  1. Go through the kids backpacks every night. I like to do it right when they come home from school. Keeping up on this prevents an intimidating buildup of paper to be gone through, and thus alleviates the inevitable guilt that follows when you miss something important in a time-sensitive note.
  2. Remember FIFO when it comes to displaying the kids’ work. This is an accounting term I borrow when it comes to organizing, and it stands for “First In, First Out.” Whether it’s the fridge or a magnet board, rotate the masterpieces that are on display. Removing one paper when it’s time to display another keeps your kitchen from looking like a backpack exploded and everything stuck to the fridge!
  3. Select a container for storing schoolwork. My container of choice is a 15-Quart Sterilite container. It’s the perfect size for holding a respectable amount of “important” test, reports, and art projects during the year. The rule is that we can only save what fits in the box. If it gets full before the end of the year, the kids have some throwing away to do. This is a win-win, as I am both teaching my children to avoid hording, and I am keeping my space clean and clear.

Sterilite 15-Quart clear latch box $9.00 

  1. The Best of the Best. In a few years, those papers that seemed so important will lose a lot of their appeal. In fact, that process has already begun by the end of the school year. When school gets out for the year, I condense the kids’ work into what will fit in to a 10×13 envelope, and then store those envelopes in their personal bin in the basement. Bottom line: you don’t need to save very much! Just the highlights.
  2. Big Art Project Dilemma. We’ve all had the same dilemma when it comes to mobiles, panoramas, and other 3-D projects. They are super cool, but they can quickly overtake any room. The solution? Snap a quick picture and hang it on the wall or fridge. This will honor the project and validate the child, and allow you to maintain an organized space.

I hope these tips can help you. And I’d love to hear your solutions. Please share them in the comment section below!


Image by Kristin Clove at cdotlove.blogspot.com



  1. Chrissy says

    I LOVE the picture idea. My kindergartener get emotionally attached to every paper and every piece of art. I let her save all of the big/important to her stuff in a tote like you suggested and at the end of the year when we were ready to pack up her manilla folder, I let her take the pictures of the items that we weren’t keeping. This way SHE gets to emotionally say goodbye to the things that she has worked on and all of the pictures of her school projects are all together when I upload them to the computer so they are easier to store and file digitally as well. Love it!

    • Sarah says

      Chrissy I LOVE your idea of letting your daughter take the picture herself! That is such a good way to let her be involved in the “releasing” process! 🙂 And I also love it that you take all the pictures together, so that you know right where they are when you upload them! You gave me an idea! Wouldn’t it be fun to create a photo book with all the art they have photographed before they dejunked it? I know my daughter would LOVE that! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Marcela says

    So a question about saving this papers in the basement. Do you eventually go through those and then shave those down more? I can’t imagine 12 years worth of papers for x amount of kids. Just wondering! Thanks!

    • Sarah says

      After the papers make the cut and go into the envelope, they can stay there. then you just have twelve envelopes to send off with your kids to college! 🙂

  3. Allison says

    Now, this is back to school advice I can use! Staying on top of all the paper that comes home from school is a real challenge. I love the box to envelope transition. It’s an easy way to organize by year for those of us who will never get it all into scrapbooks.

  4. Clara says

    School paperwork and other “important” papers are the biggest challenge (next to socks everywhere) that my family deals with in the clutter department. This was a great read with a great idea. I like the idea of having the kids go through the papers…and a smaller bin…Where do you have them store the bins during the school year? BTW, you were awesome on Studio 5 today! 😀

    • Sarah says

      Hi Clara! Thanks for leaving your comment! You can store the kids bins in a storage room during the school year. If you don’t have a storage room, you could utilize space in a closet, or under their bed. I have a spot for each of my kids bins in my storage room. 🙂 Hope this helps!

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