How to Organize Kids School Papers & Keepsakes

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We have a simple solution for how to organize kids school papers and memorabilia… set up a k-12 kids’ keepsake bin! Also known as a ‘memory tote’, this organizing idea for sorting and storing kids’ school paperwork will tame the piles of school papers around your home. It also creates a way to store your kids’ memorabilia safely and easily.

Looking for more organizing ideas for kids? Check out 25 brilliant ways to organize toys and how to set up a kids’ learning space at home.

kids paper tote pin

One of the ideas behind the KonMari method of organizing is to declutter and organize specific categories in a tried-and-true order. Heirlooms and memorabilia are last on the list because they can be the toughest and most emotional to organize.

Which gave me the perfect excuse for tossing my kids’ artwork and school photos and papers in various files and plastic bins to deal with later.

The problem with ‘later’ is that unless you tackle it head on it’s kind of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ With more time on our hands lately, the kids started digging through the bins and we quickly realized we needed a better way to organize them. The time, it seems, is NOW.

kids school paper bins stacked


I’ve been meaning to make school keepsake bins for years but as a perfectionist kept struggling with the how. Where would I get vinyl labels for the bins? Do they need to be color coordinated? How much label tape would I need for the tabs?

Thank goodness I saw that Organize by Julia on Instagram was making and selling label sets for the bins– the sets include both the vinyl name label on the front and labels for the tabs on the folders. I finally jumped on the school keepsake bin train and got two sets… one for each of my kids. We picked out the colors, fonts, and wording and Julia did the rest.

Then I ordered the plastic totes and hanging folders in coordinating colors because I’m an office supply nerd. After everything arrived, the kids and I worked together and in just a few minutes, we had these!

kids school bin with hanging file folders
kids' school memory bin with labels

The best part is it DOESN’T have to be perfect. You can write on the bin with a paint marker. You can hand letter the tabs. You can use what you have on hand. Whatever you do, just do it– it’s SO worthwhile to get those memories organized!

What’s the in the school keepsake bins?

As the year goes on, we’re adding school papers such as the following to the current grade level’s hanging folder:

  • school photos
  • report cards
  • artwork
  • special papers and funny or interesting writing samples
  • awards and certificates
  • notes from the teacher
  • anything we wish to remember

Then, at the end of the year we’ll go through the folder and weed out what we don’t need. For oversized for bulky artwork (hello, preschool macaroni noodle necklaces) take a photo and print into a book on Shutterfly or use an app like ArtKive.

kids school paper bin with hanging folders

How do you set up the kids’ school keepsake bins?

  1. Buy one hanging file folder bin per child and label the front with their name. I prefer lidded bins so you can stack them.
  2. Add hanging folders and label each folder with a grade level.
  3. Keep in an easy-to-reach place and collect the current years’ papers in the current grade level bin and sort through it at the end of the year. Take photos of oversized or bulky artwork and either print as a photo or create a photobook.
  4. Store the bin during the off season in a climate controlled area away from too much sunlight or dampness to protect for years to come.
hanging file folders with labels
shop the post handlettered

These school paper bins are an easy and simple way to store your child’s school papers from kindergarten to 12th grade. You can DIY it on your own, or if you just need to get it done ASAP purchase a set of personalized labels from someone like Organize by Julia on Etsy.

The result? We now have an easy and beautiful spot to organize and store our kids’ papers from babyhood to grade 12. When they have homes of their own, I can hand each of them their bins and cry my eyes out probably. 😉

kids school paper bin on table

Which school keepsakes would you store in these organized kids school memory bins?

kids paper tote pin
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  1. I started these bins for my kids a few years ago, and now they have heaps and piles of stuff sitting on top to be sorted and go into them! This post was good motivation for me to get this job done now before another school year starts!

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