3 Creative Ways toDocument the New School Year

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How to Document the School Year

Without driving yourself insane

With 3 Creative Ideas

A new school year is upon us! I know many of your kiddos start this week, some next week, and some started last week. Either way, it’s that time of year again!

I wanted to share my tips for organizing and documenting artwork & share a cute accidental project we did last year that turned out adorable.

Basically, you need to find a system that works for you.  Since I have an iPhone, these ideas are geared towards iPhone & Mac users.  If you are a PC/android/other user, look for similar ways to organize images in your devices.

You can combine these two ideas into one photo book which would be adorable!

1. Document All Artwork in Photos


How to organize the steady stream of school artwork

20140620-110423-39863655.jpgI combine this with our home artwork as well so we have a complete year’s worth of artwork.  Using my phone’s photo stream and a little bit of discipline, I created photo books from Blurb using snapshots of all of my children’s artwork.  Each child got their own photo book which makes them extremely brood to look back on.

For a detailed post on this project, see this post.

Photograph Artwork

I photographed each piece of artwork on my iPhone as soon as possible (often while my kids were saying their goodbyes before we svn got into the car).  I used the Snapseed App since there I can quickly & easily edit the photos to bump up the brightness, shadows, and crop, then save to my Camera Roll all in under a minute.

Share to Photo Stream

Right away, I shared the saved photos to a Photostream for each child’s artwork (labeled “Artwork 2013-14 Chloe” or similar).  The streams are shared with  my husband so he gets a fun surprise at work as well.  It’s so easy to organize photos this way instead of hunting for them later.  To learn how to set up photo streams, click here.


At the end of the year, save to your computer

This is the most exciting step… at the end of the school year, pull the photos from your photo stream onto your computer.  You can easily do this in iPhoto or Aperture by exporting.  If you’re on a PC, there are instructions here.  You can even have software do this automatically for you using the app mentioned in this tutorial.  Since I organize my photo in Aperture, it was easy for me to export there to a temporary folder on my desktop.


Make a photo book with Blurb or similar software

I love Blurb because it was easy to use yet powerful.  You can create your own page templates and literally move anything anywhere.  Plus, if you’re a font collector like I am, you’ll be happy to know that you can use your own fonts.  I organized the artwork roughly in chronological order, grouped by subject manner or color.


Publish the book and it will arrive shortly

Our books turned out great and I plan to do this again this year, although I may combine it with the next idea here, the daily photos.


2. Document Grown & Style With Daily Photos

A Year of “School Days” Photos Makes an Increadible First Year of School (& Beyond) Keepsake

An accidental project happened to us last year and it turned into something I will treasure forever.  For details on this project, click here.


After snapping our obligatory “First Day of School” photos at the entrance to school (we also took “after” shots as a “we survived!” moment0), I thought we would cruise along until we took “Last Day of School” photos.  However, they kept asking for photos so I kept snapping them.  After a few weeks, I decided to make sure to help keep them on track for photos every day… rain or shine, smiles or grumpy faces, adorable outfits or “I dressed myself” classics.


I used the same method as with our artwork photos above.  I’d snap plenty of photos since there’s always a great shot that’s out of focus or captured at an awkward moment, then I’d pick my favorite (or some days favorites) to upload to a Photo Stream.  My husband loved getting these updates at work.  If I was in a rush and didn’t share the photos until later in the day, he’d even text to ask me.

At the end of the school year, just as I did with artwork photos, I saved the photo stream to my computer and loaded the photos into Blurb software to create a photo book.  I included dates at the bottom which was easy because they were labeled within Blurb‘s software.  I even included outtakes and precious moments that didn’t make the cut at the end.  It’s an amazing document to look back on and well worth the seconds we spared on our way in and out of school.



3. Have Teachers Sign A Keepsake

At the end of the school year, it’s great to have something personal from teachers.  We started this tradition for our children’s first year of pre-school and plan to continue through high school.  For a detailed post on this idea including a FREE printable letter to teachers explaining the project, click here.


Having teachers sign a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss has been made popular recently my stories in the media.  It’s an absolutely adorable idea.

Imagine receiving a book packed full of notes from all of your teachers ever, including your earliest teachers, on your graduation day.  Sure, our kids will probably still want a car, but this has to be one of the most cherished gifts a child can ever receive.


And there are my top 3 creative ways to document the school year!


1 Comment

  1. nicole dziedzic

    March 23, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    I love the idea about putting there artwork in a book, since they always come home with so much, awesome idea!

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