End-of-Year Folders

Do you have a good system for documenting a year’s learning? I have struggled with this in years past, but I think I may finally have stumbled on a method that works for me.  This year, I made each of my children an End-of-Year Folder. They were very simple to put together, and the kids love flipping through them (who doesn’t enjoy looking at one’s accomplishments and relishing in work done well?).

I am convinced that we homeschooling mothers have no idea how much we get done unless we find a good way to document it. I, for one, can’t believe how much we accomplished- especially since this was a baby year for us! I don’t think I would have realized quite how productive we were if I didn’t document it.

This method is not perfect, but it works for me. It’s a good combination of practical, pretty, and simple. I’m not really up to making elaborate scrapbooks or notebooks- I just don’t have the time, energy, or desire for it. But putting together a simple folder like these? That I can do. And I think I may just make an annual habit of it.

The first step was to make the cover pages:

(The pages I printed actually have my children’s real names on them- I just switched them up so I could show them to you here.)
I used PicMonkey (free!) to make these pages. It was fun asking the kids these questions. I got a good feel for what my kids liked best about their work, which is helping me know what to make more time for next year.

I purchased inexpensive report covers and used their interview photos (printed on glossy photo paper) as their first page. Then I put in:

Everything went into page protectors before going in the folders.  I didn’t try to get everything into these books. I focused on getting a small sampling- just a taste of the best parts of our school year. They are representative of our year, but of course we acknowledge that learning happens all the time in ways that can’t be documented.
Next year, I’ll make things even more streamlined by:
  • Making a photo folder on my desktop to dump pictures into throughout the year. When we get home from a field trip, I’ll choose a picture or two to put in this folder. Then at the end of the year I’ll have a sampling of the year all in one place. This goes for 3-D projects, too. Before getting rid of the project (because who can keep all the projects, right?), I’ll snap a picture and make sure it goes into the folder.
  • Sliding the kids’ best work into a paper file folder throughout the year. Art projects, drawings, writing samples and other such work can be tucked into a file folder as we go through the year. Then at the end of the year I won’t have to hunt down the best work of the year.
*****
Do you have a particular way you like to document your kids’ learning? I’d love to hear about it.
If you don’t document your learning yet, I’d encourage you to find a way to make it happen. It doesn’t have to be even this involved; bare-bones documentation is worthwhile! Trust me- you will feel so much better at the end of the year if you can look at a simple list of work-done-well.
I think it’s a good idea to consider how to streamline the process before the busyness of the year gets underway. A simple plan is better than no plan at all- and if you can do a bit of organizing here and there throughout the year (by collecting work and photos as you go, for example), it will likely make your end-of-year documenting even easier.

Comments

  1. These are lovely! So beautifully done. I always so enjoyed documenting my daughter’s learning in various ways. Now she is older, the best I manage is to keep a list of all the books she reads! But as she heads into high school, I will start documenting again for her portfolio, and even the thought of it excites me :-) Your post has inspired me as to what I can do to make it beautiful as well as practical.

  2. Beautiful! What a great idea!

  3. These are gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  4. Love it! Their own magazines!

  5. I freakin’ LOVE these! I usually document in some way, but you’ve really pushed the creative bar up higher than what I had planned! These are gorgeous (OK, that might also be because your kids are gorgeous) and will be a lovely, treasured keepsake for the future.

  6. I am pinning this. These are so fabulous words don’t even describe how wonderful they are!!! Nice job, lady!

  7. Sarah, these are gorgeous. May I steal the idea? Provided I tell the kids that the idea came from a super sweet mom whom they’d LOVE named Sarah?

    They will call you Mrs. Amongst Lovely Things, of course.

  8. I love love love this idea and will be using it for my girls! (But where is Posey’s?) We have been using big orange happy boxes from Ikea to store all the “special work” and little samples of their progress each year. BUT – I adore binders and can’t stand how wonderful these cover pages are! What precious keepsakes to have – I love to hear their impressions of what they learned. As always, great idea my friend.

  9. These are just great– practical, and visually lovely. Thanks for sharing!

  10. These are beautiful! What a wonderful keepsake of their learning for the year!

  11. Terrific way to taper down what is saved, as well as to document accomplishments. Those covers are so beautiful!

  12. This, Sarah, is absolutely wonderful. I love it and am totally going to copy that for this year and the years to come. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  13. Wow Sarah, you are inspiring. I want to do this tomorrow! I always felt that it is a sad thing that they miss out on yearbooks, but they do not have to, of course not! Thanks, I’m pinning this!

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Wow! These are so beautiful! I am pinning as well:)

  15. These are so beautiful and creative. I have been wondering how to make printables and this has inspired me so much!

  16. Absolutely lovely! Thank you for sharing these awesome end of year treats! what a beautiful, beautiful keepsake.

    I love PicMoney…I clicked to their site from here and love what I see.
    I generally “document” by making photo collages (either digital or ‘real’ pictures that I print and put in collage frames myself that I purchase at Walmart, for ex…) of plays the kids are in/summer trips/endeavors they have worked on…But I really like having one school year’s worth of accomplishments in one spot for each of them. when they were younger, I’d print out pics ( that’s before digital cameras…when I had 35MM film) …and I was keeping “Homeschooling” photo books/journals.
    But since I;ve gotten a dig camera ( 4 years ago!) that fell by the wayside b.c I don’t really print out as much now and I have not kept up with the scrapbook journey of their HS life! This teaches me I need to go back a few years and start adding to those books! I will! I will! Thank you….by the end of summer and after our trip, my goal is to have HS pictures of their “work” and learning journeys in place and up to date.
    Thank you.
    Have a wonderful day, Sarah.:)
    x
    Chris:) :)

  17. These are great! Our state is very homeschooling friendly, meaning I don’t have to keep or show anything, but now I’m thinking I should keep something like this for myself and the kids. Won’t these be fun to look over five years from now, ten years frrm now…

  18. Ooooh, aaaaah! I usually order big cardboard portfolios from Paper, Scissors, Stone. I think I will have to borrow some of these ideas – like writing the questions on the outside of their box and letting them write the answers. I am totally inspired to do better about the photos and printing them off. Thank you Sarah!!!

  19. Compared to my NOTHING that I do, this is definitely elaborate ;) I think they are beautiful!! And such a wonderful thing to have in the future. How detailed is your ‘list of accomplished work’? Like “completed Math 2″ or like “learned x, y, z specific things”? Just curious… I’m definitely pinning this to help me figure out some sort of system over here. Thanks, Sarah!

    • Mine are pretty general. Prim’s, for example, says “Completed Teaching Textbooks Math 4″ and “Teaching Textbooks Math 5 (through Quiz 8)”. In Language Arts, I might say: “IEW Student Writing Intensive A” and “Phonetic Zoo Spelling A (through Lesson 9)” but I won’t list out the various skills she mastered. (If I need to know in the future for some reason, I can look up the curriculum I’ve listed and find out what was taught in lessons 1-9, or whatever. But I can’t really imagine a need for that information, so for now I’m not spending time itemizing out skills.)

      I think the booklists are actually the most helpful- and I keep up on those religiously through the year. I keep one for literature read-alouds, one for history, one for independent reading for my fluent readers, etc.

  20. Lovely!

  21. Oh my goodness!!! I love this idea!!!

  22. Great idea! We start off our school year by taking photos of the kids and making them into covers for their binders. Their school work automatically goes into it throughout the year so it’s all kept in one place. Well, I do keep a separate art folder b/c I want to make sure those don’t get spilled on or anything. Now you’ve just inspired me to make the end of the year covers and we’ll replace the front cover, putting the beginning of the year cover on the back side so they can remember what they looked like. Maybe for next year, I’ll ask them questions about what they hope to do & accomplish for the year to create new beginning of the year covers.

    • I like the idea of having both a beginning-of-the-year and end-of-year photo. I was thinking it might be fun to have samples from the beginning of the year and end of the year to compare- especially in those areas that see considerable improvement over an academic year (like handwriting, for example).

  23. oh – after 12+ years of homeschooling I just might be able to have something to show for it (other than college tuition bills ;0)

    this is absolutely beautiful and a spectacular idea – and the superlative exclamations just aren’t enough to describe the euphoria I felt when i saw this…

    I figured the blog was enough – nope, might have to print pictures! oh, my older children are not going to be happy that you were not around to help me many moons ago!

    thank you so much for sharing such an awesome idea.

    blessings
    Karen

  24. Sarah, this is just. so. fabulous. I feel a little worn out by all my gushing I already did on Charlotte’s blog. ;)

    In the past I’ve just kept a plain folder with notes and bits of work the kids have done. I’ve always wanted to do more, but could never find the time for a full blown scrapbook like I’ve seen others do. This project, on the other hand, with it being mostly on the computer and using page protectors for examples of work seems very doable. And not just doable, but a lovely remembrance of the past year. Love, love, love. Thank you, Sarah for sharing this with us all. God bless!

  25. I absolutely love this idea! I’ve actually never done any sort of portfolio of my children’s work, but you are inspiring me to do so! Better late than never, right?

  26. Thank you so much for sharing. The front cover idea is just what I need for our home ed report due in by the end of this month! I will be checking out picmonkey too!

    Will try and organise a blog post for one of the making it count Tuesdays and will be linking back here for sure.

    Love to you San xx

  27. Very cool indeed! This is going to be a hit, ya know.

  28. Genius, just genius!!!!

  29. Such a great idea, Sarah! I love it! I save everything — get a big banker’s box and put everything in it lest the state come knocking some day. I guess I can burn the stuff from the kids who have graduated high school. ;-) Now if I can just get over the guilt that I didn’t do this for the boys and just do it!

  30. This is so excellent! I have been seeing them all over Facebook now!

  31. You rock Sarah!

    I think I might try to put together one family bk on Shutterfly with this idea this year. I think : )

    • Oh my gosh, that’s a GREAT idea!

    • Every year we make a family memory book for grandparents and one for ourselves. They make excellent Christmas presents! And usually towards the end of the year Shutterfly and Snapfish have buy on get two free offers. I love the idea of a report with samples of their work for just the schoolwork, but a memory book could work too.

  32. I love this idea! These are beautiful. I copied you with your booklists this year, but other than that, the way I document my our homeschooling is through my monthly reports that I have to turn into the school district that we’re assosciated with. Those are rather dry. I like this much better.

  33. WOW!! How awesome are these! My kids are going to LOVE these! You have inspired me on how to keep track and just in time as I’m finishing my plans for the new year :)

  34. These are so awesome! Thank you, Sarah. You are so creative. I’m going to do this for all my kids — even my eldest, who just finished her Freshman year in Christendom College. I know she’s going to appreciate it as well — though I wish you were around when she was younger! =)

    Blessings,

    Shelley

    • Uh-oh — looks like the unsightly black triangle (with the white exclamation point) replaced my pretty flower picture. Could any of you smart ladies tell me how to put a new picture in once again? I tried but got nowhere. =(

    • Huh. I don’t know! Are you uploading a picture, but it’s just not taking? Maybe it’s too big?? (I have no idea- these are just shots in the dark)

  35. I hope you don’t mind but I am going to admit to being a copy cat and borrowing your idea :o) I linked my pictures back to your post and I submitted your post on “Pay it Forward” @ Life Size Catholic Blog!
    http://livinglifesimply-jessica.blogspot.com/2012/06/i-copy-cat.html

  36. This is such a great idea! Thanks for linking it to “Pay It Forward”. I always have good intentions to put together scrapbooks, but most of the time … well, you know! Stop by next month and link up again.

  37. I followed this over from “shower of roses” and “Waltzing Matilda” yes….I am totally doing this idea. You are so cool…truly.

  38. love these, Sarah! I absolutely LOVE the pictures with their favorite school-ish things! I did those for my kids birthdays this year with their favorites, but love the school ideas too!! I do an end of year portfolio of sorts…in a 3-ring binder that is very similar. I should do a post on it. :) My cover isn’t anything fancy…just scrapbook paper slid into the plastic cover!

  39. adore. adore. adore! I’m stealing these ideas and incorporating them into the Kindergarten Scrapbook that we do each June at school. In that book, the kids have one page from each month (prepared at the end of said month) with a single drawn picture & copy-sentence of what they most want to remember from that month. I’ve seen some more elaborate, but the simple works well for me. Then, I collect 1-2 photos from each month throughout the year. June project is for them to place the photos beside their laminated work. I bind it all togehter with rings or the spiral binding machine. But your covers take the cake, especially with those questions! I only wish I could take photos as well as you for those covers!

  40. Ahhhh, I started making a year folder” with my boys last year. I wasn’t as refined as you – it’s pretty much every cool drawing / piece of work they did! Lol. It’s hard to cull isn’t it! But i love your coverpage addition – lovely :)

  41. I LOVE this! What great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  42. We have yet to start homeschool since my son is not quite 4. However, I continue to collect ideas for when we begin in 2 years. This is a wonderful idea and I look forward to using it in the future! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  43. I love this idea! Last year when doing preschool with my daughter I started saving EVERYTHING, but quickly learned this wasn’t realistic. It’s so hard to pick my favorites! How many pages would you say fit into the report covers? I was thinking of getting a binder, but maybe that would just encourage me to keep more. :)

    • My kids’ report covers have about 8-10 page protectors in them (so about 20 pieces of work showing, including our lists). It definitely makes me whittle! Keeping a binder is a great idea, too. Just don’t go nuts and get a 3″ or something. ;)

Share Your Thoughts

*

CommentLuv badge