Kid Memory Binders: Organized and Easy!

Memory Binder

This is a repeat post from last year that got so much attention, I just had to share it again for those who never saw it. And also to inspire those who may have a New Year’s goal of keeping your kid’s stuff organized this year!

For many people, part of their reluctance to invite others into their home is because of their disorganization. And I know first hand with 3 kids how the paperwork piles up! It can really get discouraging.

I’ve shared this easy system with many of my friends. Years ago my friend Anne got me started with this simple organizational system for saving my kids’ memories over the years, by filing them into a binder.

I do not have time to scrapbook so this method gets the job done!

Now my kids spend hours looking through their books! It’s worth the extra effort to be organized! I’d rather my kids’ thumb through their books than watch a mindless T.V. show!

Supplies
2″ white binders from Costco (4 in a pack)
Scrapbook paper (or plain colored paper)
1 box sheet protectors

Starting with Pre-K, I have saved art, special memories, class pictures, sports awards, first book report, every report card, articles their dad has written – you name it, and have filed these papers into these books.

Thank you notes from special people

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Our beloved dog went missing

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A letter to a teacher

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What to wear on a field trip

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Moving up to high school

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Congrats on driver’s license

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10-day backpack trip

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Abby’s fist time away to camp

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Sports pictures

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Accomplishments

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Special school speeches

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Annual family Christmas letters

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Abby’s first post right here on RE

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You get the idea …

How to make the book:
• Have a place where you dump the memories (on top of my fridge!)
• When you’re ready to organize, make separate piles (3 kids in my case)

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• Start with younger years and move forward (Pre-K is when I started)
• Create a binder for every 2 years (depending on how much you need to file)
• Slip memories into sheet protectors, sometimes folding in ½ or however you can preserve it

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• Slip artwork into the front cover, or use a fun piece of scrapbook paper
• Make a side label with child’s name and year(s)

Memory Binders

When my kids get old enough, these books will become their memories to keep!

For now, they are mine, and I find myself occasionally thumbing through them too. Of course I get a bit sentimental!

What’s the secret to this easy system? Have your books ready, so when the stuff comes home you can slip it right into the book!

Do you have an organized system for keeping your kids’ memories? Or, if you saw this post last year and implemented it, I’d love to hear how it’s working for you?

   

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60 Responses to “Kid Memory Binders: Organized and Easy!”

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    1
    Lynne in NC — January 11, 2010 @ 4:01 am

    Sandy,
    Thanks for resposting this one. This is an awesome idea.
    I’ve got to get started!!!
    Peace.

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    Tracy — January 11, 2010 @ 4:18 am

    Great system! My son is now grown, but I have boxes of memorabilia. This is a great way to break it down into more managable parts. = ) Thanks for reposting!

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    Suzann from The Olive Cottage — January 11, 2010 @ 5:32 am

    cute!

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    Jessica @ These Are The Days — January 11, 2010 @ 6:23 am

    I totally agree, these are great. Every house should use these. I started them last year because we homeschool, but I will use them for other items as well. My kids LOVE them.

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    SmellingCoffee — January 11, 2010 @ 7:32 am

    This is such a great idea! I remember when you posted this earlier and just never got around to doing it. I have rubbermaid totes full of school work to go through, and look forward to getting it down into a few notebooks! Thanks for re-sharing.

    Blessings to you today…
    Jennifer

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    Stephanie @ Geezees — January 11, 2010 @ 8:22 am

    What a great idea..thanks for sharing it!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

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    Bev — January 11, 2010 @ 8:24 am

    I may have told you last year, but I LOVE this – such a great idea. I won’t even go there that I’m so ridiculously far behind scrapbooking our kids’ memories – how I wish I’d had this idea back then – you make it very doable.

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    jodi — January 11, 2010 @ 9:47 am

    great, great idea – thanks!

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    tish — January 11, 2010 @ 10:45 am

    I like your concept — wish I had done this when my kids were younger.

    But I have a suggestion that would result in a much more durable memory book that will not deteriorate as pages, drawings and other content surely will.

    Scan all those materials — each drawing, letter, report card, paper — and upload to a photo sharing site like lifephoto.com. You can store your files and other photos there and create — at no cost — a digital photo book for each child. You can work on it at your leisure — your project will be saved. You can e-mail a “turning page” book preview to share the contents with Grandma via e-mail or on Facebook or other social media site.

    When you’re ready to get a printed copy — and you might want to do this once a year — you can get a 20 page 6″x4″ photo book printed for $6.95 or an 8″x8″ (or 9″x6″) 20-page book for $12.95. These are softcover; hardcover are more. Each 20-page book can hold about 50 photos or graphics. You can put text in as well.

    While a binder-type memory book is great for the short term — this is a terrific solution for a long-lasting child’s memory book and it doesn’t cost a lot to do.

    See what you think.

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    Selena — January 11, 2010 @ 11:16 am

    I am so going to do this. I’m big on saving memories but not big on doing anything with them but sticking them in a box. I may sell my scrapbook supplies even as I’m not sure I’ll ever get to that craft. Thanks so much Sandy.

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    Kirstin — January 11, 2010 @ 11:50 am

    That is such an awesome idea…wish I would have known you and seen this 14 years ago (C:

    My girls do save all their notes and cards they receive from people. I save special things they have done here and there but not everything. I think I would but my hubby is not one for saving stuff so lots ends up in the round file. I should save more. I think my girls save the things that really mean alot to them.

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    Gina — January 11, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    What a great idea, I saw the post last year but haven’t done anything to carry it out. Right now we have a box that all the special things go in and school binders since we home school. Thanks for the reminder to be a bit more organized!

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    Jamie — January 11, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

    Love, love, LOOOOOOVE this idea….and I remember reading is way back when you first posted it (as well as looking it up since then)!!

    Thanks for posting it again!

    J

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    Holly L — January 11, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

    I like this idea a lot. I did something similar for my son during preschool, but then was convinced I would have time for actual scrapbooking…so now I have all the supplies (at least they are useful fro crafts projects too) and not time to scrap. I can do this much quicker and may even be able to catch up to baby #2!

    My son’s first grade teacher did a book for each child with their best artwork and writings in it…it was great! Don’t have to worry about the school aspect of 1st grade at least!

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    Gina @ The Shabby Chic Cottage — January 11, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

    Hi Sandy,
    This is SERIOUSLY inspiring. I have tons of scrapbooking supplies, but I never use them for that. It’s too time consuming for the results to me. But this, I can do this! Thanks for the great idea!

    Can’t wait to meet you in Nashville. I’m not going to Blissdom, but I’m definitely going to the Thursday night “homie” gathering. See you then!

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    Sarah — January 11, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

    That’s a great idea. We had a lady come to our MOPS group a couple years back and suggest taking a picture of the kids “stuff”, and make a folder for it on the computer. I’ve been doing that ever since. It really does help with the clutter. I can’t imagine how much paperwork is generated once children hit the school years! Thanks for sharing this idea.

    Blessings!
    -Sarah

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    kris arnold — January 11, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

    I’m a scrapbooker but like a lot of people, I’m way behind too. 4 kids equals a lot of stuff and a lot of time. I will stick with the scrapbooking for photos and such but now I know where to put all those certificates, report cards, programs ect…..
    Thank you. You just saved me a ton of time. I might have to use it for entertaining!

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    carrien (she laughs at the days) — January 12, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

    I also take photos of the things I want to remember.

    My kids each have an accordion folder where they put away the stuff that they want to keep, cards, photos, etc. When It’s full I get them another one. It’s really easy, but I can see how yours is easier to actually look at later on.

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    Melissa S — January 12, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

    I did this last year after reading your post. At the end of the school year we picked out the papers to keep and either punched holes in them, or if they were small used the sheet protectors. Great Idea! I love them. We just cleaned out their “school drawers” since they had gotten full and when school is out we will make a binder for this school year. Of course, if I were as organized as I should be we would aleady have the first half of the year bound!

    • Katie replied: — April 12th, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

      OK But what are you saving it for? About 10 years ago my mother-in-law came over with a FULL BOX of my hubby’s grade school papers as a gift. He looked thru the box. NONE I REPEAT NONE of them brought back any memories for him. So he said thanks mom and then I asked him where he wanted to keep these papers. He said, “I don’t want them, neither did my mom, just throw them out.” I did. So again WHAT are you saving them for? Eventually they will all get thrown away. NO ONE wants their second grade papers. NO ONE. How long will you keep them around? Why spend the money and the time saving them? Just say Great job, give them a hug and throw them out. You’ll have more hours to spend loving on your babies and playing with them trust me.

      • alison replied: — April 13th, 2013 @ 3:55 am

        I kind of agree. As a minimalist at heart I really dislike keeping things that aren’t very useful around, however I had a few pieces of schoolwork kept for me by my mother and thought it was really nice to look over every now and then. Sadly they didn’t survive my many ruthless clean outs, but I would have loved to share them with my children now they are old enough to see them. So I just keep the special pieces for my children(4 of them). My oldest child is 9, so been in school a few years now, and he doesn’t have a lot of papers. My children have what I call their precious box, which holds all their precious things, first outfit, baby album, hospital band, child health records, newspaper the day they were born, cards they’ve received, a diary the year they were born, coin set of their birth year and then the special school work/certificates/memorabilia.

        Having said that, I love this idea. Perhaps for a minimalist like me it will be one album for the entire school years.

        • Sandy Coughlin replied: — April 13th, 2013 @ 8:31 am

          Even for a minimalist, which I am at heart, too … I’ve saved each years’ Christmas letters, special notes from people, accomplishments, music related awards and happenings, a few pictures in between, … and have included those in the books. So the books are a little MORE than each school year. Thanks for sharing! Love the ideas of what you’ve saved.

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    April Driggers — January 12, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

    I, too, love this idea but I hate storing binders. While I LOVE The Container Store, I purchased some of their clear lidded boot storage boxes and I allow myself only that amount of space for their school year “stuff”. I do have a keepsake box for other things and save only the school related stuff in these (mine are young, so we don’t have lots of other stuff) but I do like the idea of having a place for all of their cards and memorbilia! Hmm…. how to combine the two systems!!…

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    Jen — January 15, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

    I love this idea – I’ve been wondering how to keep track of all the art work & such…and my daughter’s not even in school yet. This will work out so well if I have this in place *before* she starts school!

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    Celeste — January 16, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

    And for all those projects that you can’t put in a binder take a picture of them. Then you can toss the project but still have a picture of it.

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    Cynthia — January 18, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

    I wish I had known to do this when my children were younger… I love it. Can’t wait to see you at Blissdom friend.

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    N. — January 24, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

    Just followed the link from The Inspired Room to here – LOVE this idea! Going to start ASAP! :D
    .-= N.´s last blog ..Post-Christmas Reds =-.

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    Lara — January 25, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

    I LOVE this idea and am just now getting ready to start the project! Two quick questions…do you also put pictures (aside from the class ones you mentioned – think family vacations, 3 year old professional photo, miscellaneous snapshots) in this binder, or do you do something different with them? And, do you often put groups of things in one sheet protector (ie. 8 special birthday cards) that you would have to pull out to see or do you only put in what you can actually see when you flip through? Thanks for the great idea!

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    Melinda Keller — January 25, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

    Thanks for this post. It’s a great motivator!

    I started doing these for my kids a few years ago when I felt like I was drowning in construction paper and glitter glue. It’s been such a do-able system so I’ve actually been able to keep up with it, even with the addition of kiddos 3 and 4. :>

    I find that I save it all up til Christmas and summer breaks and then spend an hour or two sorting through the piles and filing. I also added in a letter from me to each child. The last day of school, I spend the morning in my pajamas with a cup of coffee, typing away at the computer, composing a special letter to each child. The letter includes who their teacher and friends were, what they enjoyed about the year, things that were difficult that had to be overcome as well as how I’ve seen them grow through the year. And then, of course, some sappy mom stuff. At the bottom of the letter, I add in a few of my favorite photos throughout the year, especially one with the teacher or friends. Then I tuck it into the binder for them to discover on some rainy afternoon when they are flipping through it.

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    The Cottage Chick — September 19, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

    Thanks for reposting this! I never saw it the first time. I LOVE this idea and plan to start mine right away for my 3 boys. I have felt so guilty over not getting any scrapbooking done anymore, and really wanted a new solution.

    I sent this link to 8 friends today also, because I love it that much! Thanks for sharing!

    Denise

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    Suzanne — September 24, 2010 @ 11:00 am

    I do the same thing for my kids in a binder just like those. Who had the time to scrapbook anyway.

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    document binders — October 21, 2010 @ 6:35 am

    That is what we call being organized is the key to save the time.You have shown both the skills in this article i.e organization management and time management.Now you don’t to run here and their to look for Elliot’s books or Abby’s birthday card.

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    Angel — August 13, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    Yours are so beautifully done!! We have 3 girls and are missionaries living in the Philippines. I had boxes and boxes of my own school memorabilia and I knew that would never work for us since we can’t bring things like that back to the US with us. So 3 years ago I got each of the girls a box with a lid and every piece of coloring or school work goes in that box and in the summer we go through them and add one of each genre of paper, they get to choose! Then we end up with between 5 and 10 pages per year and the rest, throw out of mail to the grandparents! Everyone wins!!

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    Jennifer Ashford — August 29, 2011 @ 7:01 am

    I love this! I found it on pinterest & am going to start for my oldest son this year. He’s 3 & going into preschool! I always loved looking at my old school things. Now it will be nice & organized.

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    Grateful for Grace — September 12, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

    Oh, my stinkin’ heck! Thank you!! I loveLOVElove this idea! Gonna get started pronto!! Even though I have six kids. I’m excited about something I might actually be able to do!

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    Heather Stokes — October 21, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

    WOW WOW WOW
    I just stumbled across this on Pinterest and I just LOVE it.
    I was just thinking about what to do with all those papers from my Son’s Kindergarten year now that he is in first grade. I thought about scanning things and making a photo book but that can get very expensive if you have a lot of pages. This is FABULOUS! LOVE IT!
    Thank you so much.

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    Denise — January 1, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

    I couldn’t resist sharing a great solution that I’ve discovered. It is called Memory Pockets (www.MemoryPockets.com). For each of my kids, I got a set of Memory Pockets to safely STORE each school year’s art, papers, keepsakes, etc. There’s a LARGE – 10×13 – pocket for each year, preschool thru 12th grade. Plus they come in bright, fun colors with fill-in-the-blanks on the front where you and RECORD your child’s accomplishments, dreams, likes and milestones for each year. I keep them handy in a fabric tote on a shelf in our den. When the kids bring their new “stuff” home, I sort thru it and save/record the “keepers” in their Memory Pocket. I love them! See for yourself at http://www.MemoryPockets.com.

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    Tori aka Farm Marm — February 8, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

    I LOVE this idea!b In fact it’s something I started a couple of years ago when my lil guy started pre-k. He was bringing home SO much stuff! He had more stuff for scrapping than his four older siblings that had 7-14 years on him! I just grabbed a binder, and page protectors and started stuffing away! He loves it! :) I found you via Pinterest and have now subscribed to email :)

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    Lora Culley — July 30, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    I have done this for many many years now (my oldest is 17) and I have 4 kids. I have taken pictures of the larger pieces of art to be placed in the memory binders as well. However, since I have so many kids I decided to contain everything I wanted to keep into one binder per child. On the front of each binder I placed a piece of scrapbook paper that coincides with their interests (ie: baseball, football, ballet). Then starting in the upper left hand corner I started with their Kindergarten picture and placed it on the scrapbook page (that is the binder cover) Each year, as they get their school pictures, I just place them right in order on that same page. It has been neat to see how much they have all changed over the years and the kids LOVE it!

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    Aggie — September 3, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

    I have a huge (one for each child) plastic tote full of school memories! I have a memory box for extra special stuff. This is going to happen very soon…I can just feel myself breathing easier because of it! ;) I even have a shelf tucked up high in closets to store the binders when they are done….GREAT idea

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    Jenna — October 18, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

    What do you do with the construction paper/ projects that dont fit into the sheet protectors?

    • Jessica replied: — November 19th, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

      For big items you can take pictures (like the board after their first scrabble game).

      I used this binder method myself for making my own scrapbook for high school (1) and college (1).

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    Erin — November 15, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

    I have a two step system. 1) A rubbermaid chest of drawers. Each kids has a drawer. All artwork, school papers etc. go into that drawer after we’ve reviewed them. This serves two purposes a) we don’t have to decide whether to keep something on the fly and b) all their assignments/quizzes are kept so that when the big test comes around they can pull out the other papers and study. Then, when the drawers fill up (about once a semester), my husband or I go through and decide what to keep. Usually artwork, writing samples that are espeically clever, a couple tests with A’s. These go in a rubbermaid tote (the ones big enough to fit a 8×11 paper flat on the bottom). Each kid has their own tote.

    I have been considering a way to better display the artwork and short stories. A binder might do the trick. Thanks for the idea!

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    nicole — February 3, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    Hi. I was wondering if these were just school binders for school or if you put anything from that year in them_ for example things from friends, birthday cards anything

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    Carlos xuma Rating — May 22, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

    First off I would like to say wonderful blog!
    I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting
    my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it
    just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are
    usually wasted just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any suggestions or hints? Thank you!

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    tao of badass pdf free download — June 21, 2013 @ 3:52 am

    I’m not sure why but this site is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

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    Rebecca Carter — February 2, 2014 @ 2:42 am

    wow…I can’t believe some people think you should just “throw away” your memories of your children’s childhood! I for one DO NOT have the best memory and realized a few years ago how much my KIDS love looking back on all their accomplishments and growth over the years! Since my daughter passed away this year, I have been especially trying to find ways to display and organize her belongings. This is one of the best ways to do this…Now, If I had just thrown them all out with the trash, ….I wouldn’t be able to look back on her life and remember certain events or times that I may have otherwise forgot.

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    Jenny — July 30, 2014 @ 8:54 am

    I think this is awesome, but I am going to include my baby boy’s first year – all the way through 12th grade! What a great way to keep all the “hopsital stuff” when he was born (11 months and 24 days ago, not that I’m counting). And I can get the 4×6 picture sleeves and add pictures in there too (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Avery-Photo-Pages-for-Six-4-x-6-Mixed-Format-Photos-3-Hole-Punched-10-Pack/14983066)! Photo album and memories all in one – I think so! Thanks for the GREAT idea!!!

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    Debbie — September 21, 2014 @ 7:36 am

    I just did this project this weekend. My daughter is entering 7th grade.
    I downsized even more and kept only special papers and artwork. These books can fill up pretty quickly.
    I got pre-k to grade 1 in one binder and grade 2
    To grade 6 in the other binder. So many memories and thoughts come when working on this! I loved every minute.
    Now my daughter wants to look through it all the time and I dont have to worry about anything getting out of order!

    • Sandy replied: — September 21st, 2014 @ 9:12 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing, Debbie! My kids would sit and read their books for hours … :)

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