Welcome back everyone! It’s Laura Vegas here. On Monday, I shared a little bit of how I organize my girl’s school papers, projects, photos, etc. and today, I am going to give you a peek into how it all comes together in the albums themselves! Get ready :)
Just to recap a bit, I have school albums set up for each of my two girls. I like the idea of keeping a sampling of their school work and all of the important papers/photos from each grade together in one spot. I’ve found that I can fit 3-4 years into each album, so I have 4 albums for my oldest Alyssa (who BTW, is going into her senior year next week, which freaks me out just a tad!) and 4 albums for Sarah (who will be a freshman this year). These albums will contain everything from their Kindergarten year, all the way thru their senior year of high school.
The basic set-up is the same for each year. The only thing that varies a bit is the contents within the different years, since their work from Kindergarten varies greatly from their work in 5th grade, let along high school. At the beginning of each school year, I start off with a 12x12 envelope page. The ones you see here are from a super old kit by Becky Higgins that isn’t available anymore. I like that it has the grades printed right on the envelope, but that could also easily be achieved on a plain envelope page with vinyl or possibly stickers. This envelope page has a few small pockets along the bottom, so I slide their school ID in there at the end of each year.
Inside these envelope pages are where I store an assortment of their work from throughout the year. This is where I would take out that large Ziploc bag (or the folder that I’ve used as they have gotten older) that I’ve been adding school work, art projects, reports, etc. I go through and pick out a few things from each subject, just to give a good representation of their year. It could be a few tests, a few homework sheets, drawings, stories they’ve written, reports, smaller art projects, letters from friends or teachers, etc. I slide anything I’m saving into the envelope. And then, are you ready ….. I throw the rest away! It’s freeing, to be honest!
Following the envelope page, this is where I add in a handful of 8.5x11 page protectors. The first thing I add in is there class photo. When they get into high school, they don’t have class photos, so I just skip this step. Our class photos are 8x10, so I simply adhered it to a sheet of 8.5x11 white cardstock so that it fills the page protector.
Behind the class photo, I add in their final report card from the year. They might receive report cards several times a year (quarters, trimesters, semesters, depending on the school and the grade), so I often slip them all in there. But the final one for the year usually has all of the grades combined, so that’s the main one that I make sure to keep. Following the report card, comes the awards.
Most certificates and awards are 8.5x11, so they’re easy to slip into the page protectors. This is just personal preference, but I put quite a few in each page protector, just to save space and save on page protectors. I’m ok with not having each award or certificate showing, so I will often have 4+ in each page protector. They’re easy enough to pull out and look at, so I don’t stress over it too much.
Some years, I might have 1-2 page protectors for awards and certificates, and some years I might have 4-5. Just depends on how they did each year.
After the awards, I move on to extra things like band performances, choir concerts, and plays. I started using 6x12 page protectors for these, as most of the programs are just 8.5x11 papers folded in half, and they fit perfectly on a 6” wide piece of cardstock. Although now you can find 6x12 envelope pages, where you could slip all of these items in to keep it simple.
I use some basic kraft cardstock, and cut them into 6x12 pieces that can be slipped inside the page protector. I open the program and staple it to the kraft cardstock at the top on the second page. So you can still open the program and read the inside, and you can flip it over and read the backside. This photo shows a program from a play that Alyssa was in, and along the bottom I added some of the tickets we collected from the nights we watched the show.
Here, you can see the backside of the 6x12 cardstock that holds the play program. I had a newspaper clipping with photos from the show, and it conveniently fit on the backside of the page. It’s folded in half, but only stapled at the top, so you can open it up and read the entire page.
I also used this same idea for concert programs. This particular year, Alyssa performed in four concerts. So I stapled 2 programs on either side, so I’d have less bulk in the album. Same idea. Stapled the bottom program on first (at only the top and on the inside page of the program), and then stapling the top program overlapping over it.
This particular year, I added in some graduation stuff as well, since we had 8th grade promotion. I have an 8.5x11 page protector, and have added the program on the front, along with a clipping from the newspaper that listed all of the graduating students from her school.
On the backside of the 8.5x11 page protector, I have another newspaper clipping from graduation night. This was from the front page of the newspaper, and I wanted to keep the entire thing intact, since one of the three photos is of Alyssa receiving one of her awards, and they make special mention of her in the write-up. I did cut out just the article from the paper, folded it in half and slipped it into the page protector, but I do have a full copy of that newspaper put away as well.
On the following page, I have added her school photo. These pages came with the kit that I started out using, and had the years printed right on the paper. I’ll be honest with you. I tried really hard to coordinate my girl’s shirts on picture day with the color paper that was in the album for their grade. They always ask what I want them to wear, and I would pull out the album, check what color the page was, and try and make them match. They didn’t appreciate this much as they got older.
Which is why I have been going back and switching out these pages, adding their school photo to a new page. I’m using white grid patterned paper to keep things neutral, adding a few punched border strips of cardstock, and using my Silhouette Cameo die cut machine to cut out their grade from paper that coordinates with what they wore in the photo.
Once we hit high school, I’ve had a few new things to work into the albums. Sports is one of them. I do keep sports albums for my girl’s as well, which cover all the teams they’ve played on for city league since they were little. But I wanted to keep the high school sports in their school albums. I’ve added in their team photo, awards and certificates, and even added the varsity block that Alyssa earned last year (since she’s not getting a letter jacket).
I have an extra 12x12 page protector that holds any additional newspaper clippings, as we now have Friday night football games and band performances at these games that often make the local paper.
After the school photo, I will add in any layouts that I create that are specific to that grade. This could be a layout about the first day of school, an event at school, or even this layout here that I created about the projects Alyssa had to make for science in 8th grade. After the layouts, I add a few divided page protectors to hold any and all photos taken that year that pertain to school and school activities. I will most likely scrap a lot of these photos onto layouts at some point, and at that time, I can simply pull out the photos I need and use them. In the meantime, they are organized within the year they pertain too, and I know exactly where to find them.
That pretty much sums up everything I keep for each school year. Sure, there are a few extra things that get saved each year. Large art projects that I have good intentions to photograph, and add either the photos to the album or even just add a CD to the album that contains the photos. I have notebooks that still need to be gone through, in case there’s any great stories I want to save. Planners that are fun to look back on, to see what you spent your time doing. Things like that are kept in a plastic bin, and I do hope to get to it all someday. But I love that these albums really sum up their school years, and all of the important stuff is in once place and neatly organized. Once I had a system set up and in place, it’s been super easy to just add to it each school year. I just pile things together throughout the year, and spend a few hours at the end of the year (or the beginning of the next year) assembling it all within the albums.
I hope this gave you a few ideas of your own for creating school albums, or even albums for other things like sports, hobbies, etc. Even if your child is in middle school, or junior high, it’s still not too late to pull everything together and get it organized.