So here we are more than a few weeks into summer. So far so good and the weather has started to cooperate.  The kids are each settling into a nicely unregimented routine and now I feel ready to attack the “end of school” pile.  You know what I mean right? The pile of items that have hidden in the classroom for the entire year and during the big year end purge, end up at home in a big bag.

It just doesn’t seem quite right to light up a fire and throw it all in.  They worked hard for it and hidden in between the crumpled (not completed?!?) math sheets, there is a gem or two.

So here is what I do!

This starts way back with my mother. In the basement of our house, there was a dresser that housed our school memories. We would bring things home, display them on the fridge (back when that was the thing to do!) and when new items came home, the old ones would be taken down to the memory drawers.  This would happen throughout the school year. At year end, my Mom, my sister and I would go down, look at them again and decide what we “couldn’t live without”.  Each time Mom moved house, she would do a more significant edit and reduce what she kept until she was able to pass it on to each of us.  I have every report card and every school picture, and about 10-15 special school projects – a Remembrance day poem, a poem about our dog, a journal from a trip to Germany with pictures and entries about a castle…you get the idea. No math sheets, just a few items that hold special meaning.

With the objective in mind to  one day to pass on to my kids a few special items that they can touch and feel, my process is built similar, but with a few “digital age” updates. Throughout the year, the items go straight into a bin – minimal sorting – I don’t spend the time now unless I know I really don’t want to keep it.  At the end of the year, I take a piece of Bristol board, their school photo, and do a mini photo shoot of the items.  I put between 6-8 items in each picture frame. As I go, I am looking for the 1-2 special items from that year – I put those aside to physically keep and the rest get (dare I say it) “responsibly recycled”.

I have noted that as they get older and due to “Google classroom”, there is less paper each year, but I still continue the process. I figure they can choose to look through the pictures and items if they want – and I don’t get the bad rap for throwing everything out.  The great news is that the storage space is minimal.

I’m not saying that this process would work for everyone, but I am all about getting rid of extra paper. Got another great idea?  I’d love to hear what works for you!