If you’re bracing for the start of the school year, you’re probably already waist-deep in backpacks, markers and brand-new sneakers.
And you’ve probably already started thinking about where all that stuff, and the papers of varying degrees of importance that go with it, are going to wind up once school’s in session.
We’ve tried various ways of corralling and organizing for the school year, and this year’s version is a return to the tried-and-true, with a twist or two. It’s also a testament to a little reality check: If you want to be dead-sure you don’t forget that field trip permission slip/ticket to the play/map of the bike paths, you might have to stick it directly into your line of sight — in other words, on the wall. Enter the trusty pin board. Put one up, dress it up a little bit and embrace the fact that life comes with reminders, sometimes of the paper sort.
The board: Go for one that covers the wall space you can devote to it — the bigger the better. Look like you mean it, not like you’re hiding your pin board.
The covering: That said, why not hide your pin board? Though natural cork or sleek white or black metal (should you prefer a magnet board) have their appeal, a classic corkboard can easily be dressed up with patterned paper (try wallpaper) or fabric to give it a look that suits you.
The pins: Treat your kids to some novelty pins - they’re everywhere from office supply stores to gift and craft stores. Our latest favorites look like paper airplanes stuck into the board, but giant colorful ones run a close second. One warning: Big pins make big holes in your board and may not stay up as well as the standard sizes.
The extras: Using picture-hanging strips, we added a small chalkboard for each kid, creating a custom message-leaving spot. Chalk, tied up with twine, was stuck into the board nearby using pushpins.
Another great option: attaching a pocket for each person to serve as an in-box for stuff that doesn’t need pinning.
The red alert: It isn’t actually red, but each kid now is the proud owner of a paper arrow that reads, “LOOK MOM!” Explanation? Could be their best new artwork, could need a signature, could be a kid emergency — whatever the paper is, sometimes mom needs a little extra help seeing which one needs dealing with right now.
The fun: Anything that needs a prominent, but not a permanent, home can go on the board. That snapshot from the class party, a postcard, a blue ribbon, a piece of artwork — all can make the board an ever-changing portrait of what’s going on in your house, and a fun place to look. (Which means you might see that field trip note in the nick of time.)