2013 has been a turbulent year, and a lot of the things I love have fallen by the wayside over the past nine months or so. I haven't printed a single photo. I haven't touched Project Life. I can't remember the last time I went to yoga and I haven't gone running in ages. How's that for real life? I know I will find my groove again, but for now I'm basking in these school binders I put together last weekend.
Now, like most good ideas I come across in life, this one was not my own. All the credit goes to my sister-in-law Melissa. Melissa and I have a lot in common. Among other things, we married brothers and we both have families full of girls (she has four daughters, I have three). Melissa has just done everything a few years ahead of me, and so I tend to let her blaze the trail and then I just follow behind in her footsteps.
When Matt's entire family was gathered at her home last Thanksgiving I came across these school binders she had put together for her girls, and I knew immediately that these were the solution to the stacks of school papers I had been collecting for Ella ever since she started kindergarten. And the best part about them is that they are ridiculously easy to put together. Even though I can't seem to accomplish anything else these days, I managed to get these done in the middle of a busy Saturday afternoon.
All you need is:
- a binder (I use this one)
- 8.5x11 page protectors
- 8.5x11 cardstock
I bought this rainbow pack of Bazzill cardstock last year, which includes six colors (sadly it looks like this may have been discontinued). Since our elementary school is K-5, covering six grades, I use one color for each grade. Kindergarten is red, first grade is orange, etc. One pack of this cardstock is enough for me to make a binder for each year of elementary school for all three of my girls.
To start I just typed a simple title at the top and subtitle below, ran the cardstock through the printer, attached that year's school photo, and slipped the page into the front cover of the binder. For the spine of the binder (shown in the picture at the top of this post), I again typed a few words, ran the cardstock through the printer, trimmed the paper into a 1" strip, and slid the strip of cardstock into the spine of the binder.
I don't keep every single thing, just those items that I think are most important (original writing ends up being the majority of what I keep). Sometimes stuff sticks out of the top, but I don't stress out about it.
In the last page protector, I keep report cards and extra school photos (why yes, I tend to order an excessive number of school photos). And then at the end is an envelope with writing journals and other items that won't fit into a page protector.
The best part of these binders is that if you plan ahead, you can just add to them throughout the year. I already have Claire's kindergarten binder and Ella's third grade binder sitting in my kitchen filled with empty page protectors. I haven't received their school pictures yet but when I do I will just attach them right to the cover page that I've already printed out. Now when my girls bring anything home from school that I think is worthy of keeping, I can just stick it into the binder right then and there. At the end of the school year, all their work will already be organized and ready to go!
Ella asked to keep her finished K-2 binders in her room, and I already caught her staying up late one night flipping through them. So that in and of itself has made the minimal effort involved totally worthwhile.
As always, thanks for the inspiration Melissa!