School Paper Organization

If you have a child in school, YOU NEED THIS PROJECT. Everyone needs somewhere to store those mounds of adorable projects, papers, and awards.

I found various versions of this project on Pinterest. There is this one and this one.

I love this project and the options out there to make it unbelievable cute are plenty. Here’s the thing, the price tag can get up there quickly. I have four children and needed a super frugal option. I went with price tag and function over cute this time.

Did I JUST type that?

When I took the basics and added these cute labels, it suddenly turned frugal into a vintage chalkboard inspired theme.

The best of both worlds.


The plastic tubs are AWESOME. Boring perhaps? A little. However, they are just $13 for two at Costco and they are very, very, durable. This project needs to last for like at least eighty years, so I need me some durability. You need one box per child.

The green hanging folders were just $5 for a box of 25 at Staples. You need one for each year of school per child. There is hanging file folders of every color in the rainbow and they are C U T E. However, the price tag reflects that. I went with the cheapest ones I could get my hands on.

 The tab folders are a recycled folder from Staples as well. 100 of them for just about $10. You need one for each year of school per child.

I purchased the labels for the front of the files at Staples as well, for about $10. You need one for each file folder.

I purchased the tab file folder labels on clearance at Target for $5.

The black photo corners I purchased at Target for just $3.

Overall total for this project for my four children is about $65. I bought it piece by piece over the last few months.


So, basically the goal of this project is that ALL school memorabilia gets saved in the box. ALL of it.

How do you decide what goes in the box?

1. ALL awards, certificates, and those types of things.

2. Report cards

3. A sample of work from the beginning of the year and from the end.

4. Anything that makes me smile.

Yes, that is my official process. I save up papers for the whole year. Then I sit down and look through them. If it is in category 1-3, it automatically gets saved. If it isn’t, it has to past the smile test. If it makes me smile, it gets saved. If it doesn’t, it goes.

The bottom line is this, YOU CAN’T SAVE EVERYTHING. Too much of anything is never a good thing. So, be ruthless and save the spectacular.

I have tried to do traditional scrapbooking of school projects. I had started a couple of albums for the older kids and let me tell you, it is a hot mess. It just wasn’t easy to look through. I love being able to pick up their crafts and handle them. When trying to shove them all into pocket style photo albums, it became a nightmare. Not too mention there are only so many hours in a day and I have plenty of other stuff I would rather scrapbook. So, I aborted and landed with these. They are MUCH quicker.

Amazing, right? Yay for brilliant ideas. Yay for SUPER EASY. Yay for ORGANIZED. I am dangerously close to breaking out the pom pons, so I will stop now.

One nice little box for each of my lovelies. Even my one year old. In the blink of an eye, he will be in school and well yes, the boxes all need to match, right?

Have a happy weekend!!!

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33 Responses to School Paper Organization
  1. Jen
    March 9, 2012 | 9:59 pm

    Love it!

  2. By Word of Mouth Musings
    March 10, 2012 | 7:20 am

    Love the ‘smile’ test!

  3. Louanne
    March 10, 2012 | 2:16 pm

    I love this. My organizing heart has been trying to decide what to do with everything. Thanks for just providing it!

    Louanne from HHM team

  4. Louanne
    March 10, 2012 | 2:22 pm

    I just read this again and my Staples ink reward coupons are now burning a hole in my purse. Sunday after church we hit Costco so I will be hunting those down 🙂

  5. Ashley
    March 10, 2012 | 3:07 pm

    This is great, really love it! I will save this idea and implement it at some point!! 🙂

  6. Liz
    March 10, 2012 | 9:26 pm

    This is a great idea! I’m gonna get on it! I’m one of the newbies over at HHM. Love your blog!

  7. […] items. She’s a little genius, that one. I had the pleasure of testing out her goodies on my school paper organization project. SO happy with the […]

  8. Jen
    April 18, 2012 | 12:06 pm

    I want to say thank you for sharing this wonderful idea. I found you on Pinterest and I have finally tackled the piles of school papers that were overwhelming my life! You have helped this mama so very much! – Jen

  9. Stephanie O
    May 3, 2012 | 1:52 pm

    Love this project. I bought a tote when my daughter was in kinder and still haven’t completed the project. Ugh! I love the labels and picture with each folder. Can I pin this (& other stuff from site) on pinterest?
    shuttermom77 at gmaildot com

  10. Wendy
    May 9, 2012 | 9:20 am

    Love this!!! I always feel bad when my son who is second grade gets mad when we have to throw away all the tons of art work that comes home. Now I will able to save some and be organized.

  11. Bits ‘N Pieces | Just A Night Owl
    May 23, 2012 | 4:37 pm

    […] and get up to date on my family pictures and the kids baby albums. Fortunately the school organization has been […]

  12. Amanda
    June 3, 2012 | 2:54 pm

    Am I missing the template for the shipping labels? If you can provide a download for the annual label, that would be great! Thanks!

    • Amanda
      June 3, 2012 | 3:02 pm

      Gotcha–ordered some from easy

  13. Mish
    July 5, 2012 | 1:54 pm

    That? Is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen. GOOD BYE awful nasty boxes in the attic!

  14. Marsha
    July 10, 2012 | 7:55 am

    Love, love this. I plan on doing this as soon as possible before the school year begins!!!

  15. Back To School | Just A Night Owl
    August 12, 2012 | 9:43 am

    […] to hang on their file box for the upcoming […]

  16. Alicia @ La Famille
    August 12, 2012 | 11:04 am

    this is seriosly GENIOUS!!! i love this with all my heart!! i do something kind of like this, but i like yours better…much cuter 😉 my only thing is we make these great pocket books every year and i don’t know if they’d fit in here. maybe i need to look around and find something similar but a little bigger?? anyway, thanks for the great idea!!

  17. Hiatus | Just A Night Owl
    February 28, 2013 | 10:04 am

    […] am caught up. Four of these bad boys. All sitting pretty. Caught up. Organized. Bliss. I’m a nerd. Yes, I […]

  18. Back To School, Again. | Just A Night Owl
    January 20, 2014 | 8:11 pm

    […] need a picture for their school box each year…and by school box I mean you simply must click over and see the best idea I have seen […]

  19. Joni
    January 21, 2014 | 8:59 am

    Now I know why God brought you to MO. it was simply so our paths would cross and you would save me from the mess of papers that is taking over the shelf in Andrew’s closet. Thank goodness he’s only in 2nd grade! Ok, that’s probably not the reason you’ve been brought here, but totally thankful we’re becoming friends! Love this idea! Totally going to start collecting the items and get this stuff together before my kids graduate. Haha

  20. Melinda ~ Marshmallow Mudpie
    October 26, 2014 | 4:52 am

    Oh my goodness! I LOVE this! Such a great idea, and thanks so much for sharing where you found all the materials! 🙂

  21. Amy
    January 10, 2015 | 2:27 pm

    You deserve to break out the pom poms. Well done, you! Thank you for sharing your superb solution!

  22. Renee
    April 28, 2015 | 4:48 am

    Wondering if you have the template for the grade that goes on the folder. It has the grade, friends, etc. How did you get the tablet background? Super idea.


  23. Brittaini
    May 15, 2015 | 8:39 pm

    Hello! This is FABULOUS! I’m in the middle of completing it, but wondered if you had a template for the grade labels that go on the front of each folder??

  24. Melody
    May 31, 2015 | 2:39 pm

    I love what you did with this project. I have an only and I never figured out what to do. I collected and stored each year’s items (UGH!) and now it’s time to downsize – he just finished his first year of college and we are looking forward to retirement. Your post has given me what I need and I’ll be making one of these boxes to give as gifts to my nieces and nephews as their children arrive.

  25. Rhiannon
    August 9, 2015 | 6:51 pm

    Where can I find the template for the shipping labels that goes on the front of each folder by the school picture?

  26. […] Use bins to organize all your school work for each year.  […]

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    March 20, 2017 | 4:01 pm

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  30. […] School Paper Organization at Just A Night Owl […]

  31. Michael
    August 18, 2017 | 11:48 am

    I know this article is several years old but where do I find the template for the label that goes on the front of each folder?

    Thank you!

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