25 August 2006

Digitize your kid's artwork and school papers to reduce clutter

School's almost back in session (for us at least -- I bet for some of you school has already begun), which means the avalanche of paper is about to begin. Here's how Louise, a former kindergarten teacher, deals with it:

I struggled under the weight (mentally and physically) of all the artwork and schoolwork that my four and six year-old sons bring home every day. For a while I kept it all, fearing that the one thing I threw out was the thing they would miss. When reality set in and I was buried under paper I moved on to throwing things out on the sly, but didn't feel good about that either. Finally I hit upon a solution. I hold onto all the childrens' artwork for a month and then I take digital pictures of it all and keep perhaps one or two pieces (either my or their pick) to save in an art folio. My older son's paperwork from school I scan using the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner (which we LOVE), and then archive it all on discs. I have a record of their progress, and don't have to make room in our full house for a paper explosion anymore.

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I keep thinking to do this, but I never have time to do the photo shoot... though the scanner would certainly help.

This is a great hack. So simple and sensible that it seems obvious in hindsight.
I just got in trouble the other day for this. My cousin was trying to throw some of her son's kindergarten papers out "on the sly", but I opened my big mouth and asked "how did his work get in the trash?" within earshot of her son. He really was going to get upset, so she explained it was an "accident". Later she hit me upside the head and explained the "mountain of paper" problem. I'll have to run this idea past her.

You can also mail out a picture with each birthday card to grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles etc....
Wrap presents in them too. :D
Elderly neighbours also love to have artwork on their fridge.

This is absolutely perfect...but needs to get added to the long list of things requiring digital archiving....video tapes (of various formats), computer files and photos, family personal documents, old hard disks and floppies (well, if I haven't looked at the floppies in 10 years, I probably really don't want them!). I've seen personal archiving services - but it's a pretty penny. So, I do it myself, about 1 tape or "effort" a month...

We scan special ones and teacher's notes. We then give art pages with Birthday Cards or make them into cards, stick them on top of gifts and use them as gift cards; saved a handful; used some as scratch paper and for lists - fancy paper :) easpecially at work - and tossed the rest out. We then used most of the scanned images and teacher's notes in the year-end album with pictures and our own notes and anecdotes, and printed with Shutterfly, so it was personalized without the stock images. Especially cute as he had halloween artwork and christmas art and they were perfect with the pictures and occassions of the year. We even scanned the Christmas Ornament and the Halloween Scarecrow that his teachers helped him make.

A warning from an archivist - electronic formats change frequently. If you don't migrate them to new formats you'll lose digital images. Be sure to save some of the precious ones and be ready to convert the rest.

I have actually done this one in the past, but I was also trying to save all work brought home. It was too hard to keep up. I will have to start doing this again now that my older son is in second grade and my youngest on recently started daycare/preschool!! The amount of art work is tremendous!!! This time around I will have to just do artwork and maybe important tests or other important papers!!
I also like the idea of saving a few hard copies to make an artwork portfolio/scrapbook for them to look at later! Who knows, maybe one of them will want to be an artist of some sort when they get older and they could see the progression of their talent later in life!!

There's a great company that digitizes everything and then designs a great book -- www.souvenartebooks.com - check it out.

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