Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



10 tips for end of school year


Last week was the end of another school year for our family. I know many of you are in that same boat of wrapping up the school year and, of course, some of you are on a different schedule. Regardless of when your school year ends, most parents can relate to that “end of school year” chaos that tends to happen. There is usually a rush of so many final projects, testing, papers, performances, showcases, parties … you name it. It seems to all get scrunched into that last month of school, doesn’t it?

And just when you think all of the craziness comes to an end … then your kids come home with so. much. stuff! Right??

I hear you. I feel it, too. But you know what? I don’t feel overwhelmed. What’s my secret? I have a game plan. I do the same thing every year. And it works for us. Certainly, many of you have traditions and rhythms that work for you in “managing the chaos” and we’d love to hear from you in the comments. It’s always fun to see what other people do.

The tips I’m sharing in today’s post are pretty universal, regardless of what kind of school your kids go to and how old they are. I simply want to share what we do by breaking it down into realistic steps that make the entire process completely manageable. I was actually going through the motions of doing all of this last week (the day after the kids’ last day of school) and was in-the-moment sharing some of the tips on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Some of you aren’t really on social media much and that’s why I wanted to do a full blog post about this. Hope that you find a couple little nuggets of useful information!


1. Empty the backpacks immediately.

Seems like such a simple idea, but it’s worth pointing out. One year we just set the loaded backpacks to the side and I felt overwhelmed just seeing them in the corner of the room. Why carry around that burden of an unfinished project? I learned to just get it done within a day or two of the school year ending. And I learned to do this WITH my kids (for some of you, it may work best to do it without them – ha!).

When I shared this tip on social media, one customer / reader chimed in and said, “Great idea! My son left a sandwich in his one year and put it in his closet after the last day of school. We figured it out by following the HUGE trail of ants that invaded sometime in July. Hard lesson learned.” Yikes. Let’s not do that.



2. Photograph the backpacks.

In case you didn’t get a shot of this item that is attached to your child’s back every single school day … be sure to snap the picture now before you forget and before the backpack gets tucked away. Quick. Easy. Awesome documentation. And you can slip the photo right into their Project Life® album. I totally wish I had pictures of all my old backpacks when I was in school.




3. Get everything in one place.

Yes, I know papers are likely flying around from during the school year just as well. It’s all good. Pull the workbooks, notebooks, papers, projects, art, awards, everything into ONE PLACE. Seeing it all together is instrumental in being able to wrap your head around what you’re facing. At least that’s how my brain works.

At this point, the kids and I go through it all together. I encourage them to throw most of it away and keep just a handful of things. We keep best art pieces, a few handwriting samples, of course the ribbons and awards, and any other pieces of “evidence” from their school year that helps tell their story … without keeping every single thing.



4. But it’s all cute!

Yes, I know. Everything your child draws is a masterpiece. Every paper is precious. Every homework assignment matters. I know, I know. And every single picture of your child is so cute too, right? Right. I get it. But is it possible for us to print every. single. photo and actually get them into an album? Let me ask a different way — Do we really want to preserve and display every single photo and piece of paper? A few of you might say absolutely yes! And that’s fine. There’s no right or wrong in memory keeping. I’m first in line to promote that idea.

But for the majority of you who are in my boat, the idea is to choose a sampling of their photos, artwork, and memories that will make it into an album. I can’t tell you how to choose. That’s entirely personal – and very much an individual thing. For example, for my Crew (he’s currently 5), he draws multiple pictures every single day. It’s a lot. I love it and I encourage it. But I’m not going to SAVE every paper he draws on. When I “begin with the end in mind” and think down the road when he’s a teenager … or even a grown man … what do I think he’ll want? EVERYthing? Or a sampling that does a great job illustrating his story?

By the way – family portraits are always keepers in our home.




5. It’s okay to tuck away

Some people have memory boxes. Some have drawers. Others use totes or file boxes or crates or folders. Regardless … It’s not usually realistic for most of us to unload backpacks and literally get stuff put into scrapbooks straight away. At least not for me. One day we’re unloading backpacks, getting things gathered and spread out, and going through it all. The actual scrapbooking happens at another time.

So this is what I do with my kids’ stuff – throughout the year. At the end of the school year, I simply add to what’s there.

I have this wall of cubes in our home office. It holds our albums and some scrapbooking supplies, etc. I’m usually asked to see more of these (as well as information about what is in the cubes) and I’m pleased to tell you that next week’s At Home with Becky blog post is going to be a tour of the home office with all sorts of details and photos! Stay tuned for that.

So back to my system. Each child has a cube for their “stuff.” This is where I keep all of their things that are just hanging out and ready for me, whenever I do get a chance to get it into albums. I have found in recent years that I’m really okay letting things accumulate through the entire school year and then I do some “catching up” in batches when I have a bunch gathered.



6. Buh-bye to bulk.

Some stuff is just bulky. My kids have notebooks and workbooks that are thick. Sure, there are a few pages that are treasures and I tear those out to keep (or scan & print smaller). But really – my kids and I agree that there’s just no reason to hang on to all of those bulky things. So what I do at the end of each year is lay out those items that we want to remember, but we don’t want to necessarily keep.

Snap snap. Easy. Done. That picture I now have will memorialize the beat up folders and decorated notebooks forever. But the actual physical items go straight to the recycle bin.




7. Larger items.

You know the pieces of art that are too big to scan? Take a picture. Use natural light. No flash. Place the piece on a neutral floor and stand directly above the art work so it’s a nice straight-on shot. Or have the child hold the artwork. We save the most favorite art pieces, but most of them are scanned or photographed – and then tossed. I know some of you are gasping. I’m not suggesting you have to do it this way. It’s just what works for us.



Once the bulky or larger items are photographed, you simply print those photos and they’re ready to slip into your album with the rest of your photos. Easy-peasy!



8. Compile it all into an album.

This is my favorite part. I can totally appreciate the fact that this is the part that is most intimidating or scary for so many people because the idea of “scrapbooking” all that stuff is just overwhelming, daunting … and where do you even begin, right?

Just work with the recent year in your child’s life. Bring their stuff out. Print the pictures you love from the year (all 4×6 to keep it really simple). All you need are some Project Life Photo Pocket Pages + some pre-designed cards. Everything slips into pockets. No creativity required. No complicated tools.

Which Project Life cards? That’s up to you! We have so many fun options available. I love the Childhood Mini Kit (shown below) because those cards are loaded with specific prompts that help you to record detailed memories. I just noticed the super discounted prices on these items on Amazon so now is definitely the time to check those out – holy cow!

Wellington (neutral color palette)  |  Bridgeport (green, blue, etc.)  |  Mayfield (pink, orange, etc.)


We also have some fun School Themed Cards (a few of those cards were shown at the very top of this blog post). Be sure to check out other Themed Card sets like BoyTeen BoyGirl, and Teen Girl. But really … any cards are great! Just pair those with your photos and memorabilia!

Project Life makes this otherwise daunting task so easy and really – it comes together very quickly. I don’t add pressure to myself to do anything creative. I just want my kids’ stuff to shine and I want to be realistic about what I have time to do … and so my personal approach to managing, organizing, and preserving all my kids’ stuff is using the Project Life system. It’s designed to be solution-based.


Keep in mind that some papers and artwork should be saved and kept in their original size. Shown above is one of Claire’s favorites and as you can see, it slips right into our Horizontal 8.5×11 Page Protector, which fits right into the album with all her other pages. We have 5×7, 8×10, 8.5×11 – all in both horizontal and vertical format. And 12×12 too, of course. You can see them all HERE.


9. The scanner is your friend

As for that little stack of papers and art work that are so special but don’t necessarily need to each be displayed in their own page protector? I’m a fan of scanning those items and printing them smaller. Not sure how to get two 3×4 images on one 4×6 print? We’ve got you covered. Check out a few recommended options in this blog post.

The Photo Pocket Page design you see below with a bunch of Claire’s papers, all scanned and printed 3×4? That’s Design F, found in Big Variety Pack 1. You can check out other Small Variety Packs HERE. We have several page designs that allow for those smaller prints when you want.


Side note: One day Claire drew our company logo (and she added the .com) and presented it to me as a gift. Seriously the cutest. Just like all of her other art. Whether it’s related to school or not, my approach is to just get a sampling of photos / memories / art / papers / memorabilia from that year into the album.



10. Memorabilia

If you’re not scanning or photographing it and you want to get some items straight into the scrapbook … that’s what our Envelope Pages are for! You can check them all out HERE.




So there you have it. That’s our routine! The result is a little ongoing set of albums (I have a different color per child). I use the Scrapbook Dividers to label and identify each year of school / life. Sometimes I go months and months and months without doing anything in the albums, and that totally works for me because catching up is such a breeze with Project Life.



This post is part of a weekly blog series called At Home with Becky. Each Wednesday, I share a little something from home – routines, organization, traditions, decor, etc. If you are interested in seeing all of these posts in one place, just click on that turquoise button at the top of my blog that says At Home with Becky.



33 Responses

  1. Michelle L. says:

    Wow! Love seeing this–very inspiring. Thanks, Becky!

  2. Sandy from Ca. says:

    Thank you so much for this post :) I shared it hoping both of my daughter’s see this cause they have things in boxes with no dates(I feel this is important too) and if you had this system when my 3 where in school I would have used it. I am the Grandma to 5 small Grands and want them to have what we never did. My own children have very few photo’s cause their father thought this was a waste of time and money! I treasure each photo my parents took of me and them together <3

  3. Annette Cefalu says:

    Thanks so much!!!! I needed this! I have soooooo much stuff from three kids and lots of years. I love the ideas presented!

  4. Chris says:

    When you do your home office tour next week could you include a how to that addresses how you do your labels for your albums….and include a close up of some of the labels as well. I am currently reorganizing and need to label all my albums and would love some helpful hints and ideas. Thanks so much!

  5. Jackie Pocock says:

    We still have until mid July before our school holidays but I will certainly be doing this for my daughter. I have done scrapbooks (not 12×12) of other school years and have kept the school books but I shall be taking this approach for sure. I have only started doing Project Life this year although been scrapbooking for over 10 years and love the simplicity of getting it in to an album and preserving that memory. A great post, thank you for sharing.

  6. Dolores Deaver says:

    This is awesome. A vision of what I wish to accomplish some day…..what if it’s been years and years…oh, where to begin?

  7. Paula O says:

    Love this!! Getting ready as my kids are out at the end of June! Love the empty the backpack right away tip, outside I’ve learned with my rock collecting boy! Thanks as always, need a scanner now :)

  8. Katy says:

    One thing I read somewhere (though can’t remember where at all) regarding the process of figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of: if you keep everything, nothing will be special. In this case with purging excess, the special-ness of something is found in it’s relative rarity. If you keep every piece of artwork your child ever created, the truly special ones aren’t going to stand out and have their place. But if you pare down and keep only the things that are truly most special and most significant, their meaning will be derived from that.

    I don’t know if that makes any sense and I’m trying my best to remember the exact words this person used, but I thought it was pure poetry. :)

  9. Amanda says:

    Love this idea. Thank you for sharing. Both of my girls love art so I get a lot of it.. :) Also both of them are in dance. My youngest is in ballet and my oldest is an Irish Step Dancer who won a medal at her first feis. So this idea will help me a lot. Thank you again.

  10. I love your tips, Becky! Thanks for sharing :)

  11. Candace says:

    Love the envelopes idea. Seeing those medals go in it gave me an idea. My daughter has collected about 15 pins, ribbons and small medals on chains from dance competitions this year, and I’ve decided to attach them to cardstock and put in an envelope, so she can enjoy them in her scrapbooks instead of having them sit in a plastic bin buried in my basement. Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. LeAnne B says:

    Thank you! My oldest starts Preschool this coming fall and I am so grateful to have some tips from the beginning. I know I will find it all so helpful throughout the year and at the close of the year as well. Thank you again for the practical and simple tips!

  13. Lisa K. says:

    Thank you so much for this!! The end of the school year is always VERY emotional for me. I do not like endings or goodbyes. They are very hard for me. So one thing I have found for myself is, after emptying book bags and getting all things in their gathering place I have for the year, that I do better purging those really unnecessary items if I do tuck them away for some time… the amount of time is different each year and I just go on what I know I am feeling at the time. I don’t feel as attached and sad to those items if I give it the time I need to adjust to the change. I do get it all gathered though and it is usually a lot but I tuck it all away in those large, two-gallon or larger, plastic zip bags. It is just what works for me. I’m sure I am not alone in being attached to those precious memories. I will definitely be implementing many of your ideas into my end of the school year process. ☺

    • Lynn Christopher says:

      I know it’s been almost a year since your post, but using 2 gallon zip locks is a great tip. Thanks!

  14. Brie says:

    Wish I had known this years ago. My daughter will be in 6th grade next year. Your organization is awesome!

  15. I am so excited to do the scanning and pictures of artwork. I always feel so terrible throwing things away.

  16. Terri G. says:

    Great tips! Thank you! When did you switch to gray and orange albums? I’d love to know where you got the gray ones!

  17. Katie H says:

    Big up for Becky! I will be so doing this! I have started using artkive app and taking down art from our Cool wall! And keeping just awesome work for their albums taking photo of the rest and instead of recycling them to the bin (trash!) we recycle them as gifts to relatives! :0) ps loving the new cloth albums I just received 3 from scrapbooking inner circle! – here in England!

    • Rachel says:

      Nice post. Katie H, like your idea of recycling the artwork amongst the rellies. I used to tuck little pictures into books for me to find later :-) Rachel (also in England).

  18. Karen Brooks says:

    Thanks Becky for this great post!

  19. janelle Stout says:

    I think this is awesome. I have a newly graduated kindergartner. I am struggling giving up my old school form of memory keeping and going to PL. It seems to have lost some of the creative power. I like the easiness but I am terrified to leave behind my goodies and such… input please. ..

  20. Anika says:

    Hi Becky! You’ve inspired me to take fotos of my own school-art (drawings I painted between first class and graduation) and to add the pictures into my allready existing binders. Thanks so much! I’ll use design F pockets pages etc. When I prepared the fotos and my little daughter (2,5) saw it, she said, go mum and put your pictures into your album quickly, because I want us to put MY drawings ALSO into MY album! How cute is this? Anika, Germany

  21. Texas Susan says:

    Great advice! One word of caution, though, about getting rid of paperwork before final grades are in. My younger son, who just finished his freshman year in college, was able to prove to his English professor that he really deserved a B instead of the C he was given, because he was able to produce the paper (from his backpack) that the prof had handed him with all his grades and the total number of points (this was a prof who did NOT use the online grading system). That meant that he earned all A’s and one B, which puts him on the Dean’s List (so proud of him!).

  22. Great post. Very inspiring. Thanks!

  23. SueTR says:

    I second the “clean out the backpacks then and there” approach ! All great advice! We have been taking photos of the girls and their Masterpieces since they were little and it’s awesome to see how they and their artwork have grown! This summer, each of my twin girls is going to a week of day camp solo. My goal is that I will be spending time with the girl at home working on their school albums. They are going into 8th grade next year (eek!) and I have years of their papers and photos and stuff mostly organized and ready to go! I’m hoping this will be a fun project to do one on one with them. They will be 8.5×11 and a combo of Project Life and Stacy’s “school of life” approach. Thanks as always for the inspiration !

  24. Alison says:

    Great post Becky! This is pretty much the process I follow as well. I am however still using your original school days kit and combining it with Stacy Julian’s school of life process. Extra photos go in PL pages amongst the years. I’m not complete with my 3 older kids but we’re getting there. We also do a “where we are right now” type page – a fill in the blanks page noting where we live, pets we have, who our friends are, main studies over the year, extra curricular activities done over the year, height, weight etc (I have a template). That way even if I don’t get a lot of scrapping done over the year I still have the essential info all in one place, in their handwriting. I wish I had that of my own things. It’s a great system – thank you for sharing.

  25. Stacey Stephens says:

    Thank you for this post Becky! I am just starting out with Project Life. I have a couple of questions I hope you can answer/get your opinion on. I would like to do my kids albums in chronological order. Do you put in your kids school pages mixed in with other stuff through the year or do you keep them all together in September or May? I am really struggling with that for some reason. :) One more question, I know everyone saves different amounts of memorabilia and pics, but do you know about how many school related pages you will add to your kids albums each school year? I would be so grateful to hear your input.

    Thanks for such an awesome product!

  26. Thank you for all these tips. I have been saving everything from day one. I put it in a box through out the year and then put it away. I am excited to start using the Project Life system and your tips to get better organized. My son is 10 so I am a little behind but I will get there.

  27. Tracy in Colorado says:

    Great info and ideas. I could have used this post about 20 years ago lol. 3 of my 4 children have already graduated from high school and the baby is a sophomore this year. I have 5 large (116 qt) totes full of papers, notebooks, art work, etc that I have no idea where to even jump in and start organizing and purging :(

  28. Rachel says:

    I am loving these ideas! I can’t wait to get started on this. I have a question though: What kind of scanner would you suggest? I have one already, but it is old and not very easy to use. I have found for myself that ease of use is key (hence my love of PL!). I think you have mentioned it before, maybe in the videos that you did? But I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Thanks, in advance!

  29. I absolutely love your ideas and creative spot! I cannt wait to find time and visit to read more.

  30. Keianna says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I have a kindergarten with a ton of papers. I want to start off with a strong process.