Organizing Kids' Artwork
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Organizing Kids' Artwork
Would love to hear some thoughts and experience with kids art
and how you discern what to save, what to toss, and how to store
This may sound trivial, but with a slight tendency toward
hoarding and relatively limited storage, I can see I'm heading
for trouble since my daughter is only a toddler, and we have
(And how do you explain the art found in the recycling bin or
used as scratch paper? gulp.)
thanks, in advance, for your *gentle* wisdom.
One suggestion is to scan your daughters artwork, upload to a
photo site and create an album.
been there and still have bags full
I have started taking digital pics and/or scanning them in (when they aren't too huge
and glittered!). I have intentions of putting the pictures into a book from Snapfish or
Blurb every year or so.
You can also get large portfolio boxes that hold tons and slide it under the bed. Try
Blick Art (in Berkeley or online).
OK, I had an epiphany when visiting my mom's house. She pulled out this box--it was
one of many, and had my art work in it. It resembled my kids' work as she had picked
a box that was from the same age range. I realized it was utterly RIDICULOUS. When I
got home, I lined up all their work, and started taking pictures of them. Now they are
saved forever, and yes, I recycled the rest. They have never caught me recycling the
art, but I don't think they would care anyway. If they did see, I would simply show
them the picture and let them see that I had ''saved'' it. Having them digitally allows for
other things too--I could make a picture book out of them, or when making DVDs of
the kids, I often include the art work in the title slide.
Now I don't have boxes of this artwork taking up too much space, but I do have the art
documented still for all to see!!
The solution I found was to take photos of the art and keep only
the originals of the very best pieces. More often than not, kids'
art is on newsprint, which will deteriorate after a few years
anyway. If you have pictures, you can make an album where you
treasure the artwork without it taking up much space, and your
kid will appreciate having a book of his/her own art. One tip
about photographing the art - you need to take it straight on to
have the picture turn out square. I lay it on the floor and stand
on a stool and shoot straight down at it. As far as explaining
the thrown-away originals, I wouldn't use them as scratch paper
and would find a way of recycling them in a less obvious way than
just tossing in the bin.
I seem to do the same things with my son's art projects. I hate
to part wth them. I usually keep about one favorite piece a
month and hang it on his wall or the fridge. Some of them you
can toss out and he/she won't notice. Others that you are not
sure what to do with you can take photos of them and store them
in your hard drive or make little photo books out of them for
your child to keep. Another great idea is to save the art and
reuse it as a personal touch to gift wrap when giving a gift.
You can use it as wrapping paper or as a greeting card to give
to family and loved ones. I'm sure they would treasure a hand
made card from your child for their birthday! Good luck!
Hi there. Yes, the art can really pile up! Here's what we did
for our two kids: we bought the cheapest variety of the art
portfolio bags they sell at art stores. They are about poster
board size and like a very strong envelope with a handle on
top. I used my printer to make large colorful labels for them
(''Alex's Art'') and attached them to the front with clear
contact paper for durability. Now we had a very special,
official place for their art to be saved.
We explained that there wasn't room to save everything, and
they never really had a problem with that. Sometimes they would
designate pieces to save, but more often, art came off the
fridge or out of the backpack and piled up in a corner, then
every once in awhile I'd make a cup of tea and sit down to sort
through it. It was great to have an official archive to put the
special pieces in. I generally took the reject stack out to the
recycling bin, so it didn't hang around.
My oldest just graduated from high school, and it is really
cool to know I have these portfolios in the closet, even though
I haven't looked at them in years. Maybe when I have grandkids,
I'll give them a framed piece of their parent's art!
There's been previous advice about keeping for a month, then picking out your favorite
and tossing the rest (one piece per month is not usually excessive). Have a basket, let
it fill for the month, then pick and toss.
When she's little, I'd handle art in the recycle bin with a startled ''Oops - how'd that get
in there.'' And then take the rest to the outside bin when she isn't looking. When she's
older, I'd take the bagful to be tossed directly outside, and put nothing in the inside
bin. Of course, when she's older, she can understand the necessity to pick out one
piece a month, and help you do it.
Here is what we do-- pizza box and digital pictures! We take
digital photos of each ''creation''. We also get a clean empty
pizza box for every year (per kid), and that is where we
put ''masterpieces''. As the year goes on, and the box gets
full, I do a little pruning on the sidelines. I also print out
4x6 pics of some of the pieces and start gluing them onto the
box. So it becomes self decorating and by the end of the year,
is covered with a collage of photos of their art, and inside is
the best stuff worth keeping. Years of pizza boxes do get a
tad bulky, but the good news is it sort of self organizing, and
I figure they'll love them when they are older.
My kind of ''art collector''
Here's a creative solution: use a digital camera and take
pictures of each thing. Every so often, use iPhoto or some other
such online service to have a photobook made. The result is
you've got the visual memories forever, and you don't have to
feel torn about not keeping the physical object anymore. This
works for toys as well.
- Not a Squirrel
How about keeping a folder to store art for the school year, and
each summer you and your child can each choose a favorite to go
into a keepsake binder? That way you can narrow down what gets
kept, and by including your child in the choice, you could be
honest about where the rest of it is going.
It helps to think of a child's art as a process rather than a
product. Children need to explore materials, develop fine motor
skills, and otherwise come to know themselves through art. With
that in mind, keep only the very special things. Keep them in an
organized, professional-style artist portfolio, or frame them
nicely and hang them up in your home. The rest of the art (which
is most of it) should be quietly tossed in the ''round file''.
When my son brings home or makes something quite cool (or even
not), I snap a digital photo (or two or three) of him with the
artwork. Then we hang the art up or display it for awhile and
then (usually at midnight when the kids are asleep) it goes
outside to the recylcing bin. What I have left are beautiful
digital photos of not only the artwork but also a record of my
child when he made it. No dust, no clutter, and so easily
organized, too! [I also make several digital backups, including
storing them at practically no cost with an online photo
company with just a small purchase now and then.]
We have 3 young kids, and lots of art piles up as the school year goes on. We save it
all, throughout the year, and then in the summer I sort it into ''keep'' and 'toss''. I
bought a sturdy cardboard school/art box from Lillian Vernon that has drawers for
preschool-6th grade. Others use new pizza boxes, stackable and easy to find. Do the
sorting when the child is NOT around! Otherwise you're keeping nearly everything.
Pick a variety, that shows a general idea of what your kid did during the year. If it
doesn't fit in the box, or on a special shelf or something, it goes. Don't let your kid
see the stuff you've tossed, or there will be tears and drama. Have fun!
OH YEAH!!!! What to do with the art, homework, tests, science
projects, term papers....it goes on and on.
Since my kids were really little (now they are 14 ande 18) At
the end of each school year, I'd go thru everything, and save a
few of each subject...the best math tests,, spelling etc.
As for art...how many stick figures and blobs of color do you
need? EVentually the paper gets brittle and crumbles.
Save 1 or two of your faves. Put them i a folder...eventually
you'll need a carton or two.
The science projects stayed around for a few years and then got
trashed. Belive me, they'll add up over the eyars and you'll
have plenty to look at and remember fondly.
We have a 6 and a 4 yr old. Here are some ideas for how to deal
with the avalanche of art that prolific preschooler Picassos can
pump out as well as those kids in the early grades. Put away for
safe keeping art from the beginning of the year & from the end,
to dramatically show the progression for that year. Create an
art wall. A few simple black frames can turn a wall into a
rotating art gallery. When the kids come home with something we
particularly like or they are super proud of, we swap out one of
their old pictures for the new. Of course that doesnb0105>Kindergartener holds on to every scrapt
completely solve our over abundance of art. Art is also hung
all over the kids rooms, and mailed to family. Also you can use
art as wrapping paper. Finally, anything leftover goes into
curb-side recycling, but not until trash day so our budding
artists don't see where we have filed their remaining art. Good
Scan it. Send some to out of town relatives. Keep key pieces you
truly like and toss the rest. I've been scanning the art and it's
great because I do photo books once a year and it's both art and
Here's a cool product for saving kids' art (and other school
materials) - it holds stuff all in one place. It's called the
and the website is http://www.schoolfolio.com/index.php
One other thing that I myself have done with my own artwork that
I sort of wanted to save but didn't have endless space for: I
took a digital photo of it, and just have it in my digital photo
collection in my computer. Then I went ahead and recycled the
My final suggestion is that if your child has a piece that you
love and want to look at all the time, get it professionally
framed. My parents did that with some of my watercolors, and I
was grateful that they showed such appreciation for my work.
Mari Metcalf firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll look forward to other replies, and here is mine:
I take photos of my son's art once it has cluttered the fridge to the extreme. Then I
toss it after he is asleep, in the recycling bin outdoors. He doesn't usually notice it up
on the fridge after a couple of days, so there is no conversation about ''where is my
art?'' when it is gone. I also take photos of his sculptures, 3-D art, popsicle-stick
creations, etc. and they go as well!
This has worked well so far; he is four and I have saved the ''firsts'' as well as one
painting he did that I loved so much I framed and put on the wall.
Ask yourself if you can love the creativity that produced the art, but let go of the art.
Why are you keeping it? To what purpose? I will admit that it was a bit painful to toss
the first couple of batches, but now I just feel good that he is so creative that he
produces enough to keep our bin full! :)
young artist's mom
Our daughter is 7, but from the time she was about 4, we would go through the art
piles together, and she gets to help decide what to keep. We have a flat file in the
basement, which helps, but there's always more than most anybody can store.
It's fun and interesting to include her in the winnowing process. And she's come to
understand that we don't have room for it all. Dad and mom each get to save favorites
too. Some we decide to write letters on or use for wrapping paper. Some of her
''installations'' we just photograph, and she knows there's a record of them that way.
As she gets older, we're able to move out more of the earlier stuff. We're rarely caught
up, but when she hit school age, the reading and writing, alas, supplanted some of the
fervent art production. On the plus side, you'll find it easier to throw out lists of words
than those early masterpieces!
I myself have finally tackled the issue for myself. For the
first two or three years, we just threw everything in boxes, but
as you can imagine, by the time the second child started up, we
had to change things.
The solution that works for us now is to triage the torrents of
artwork. I immediately throw away anything that I can't imagine
anyone being interested in in the years to come. Everything that
gets past the recycle-bin gets immediately scanned or, if bulky,
shot with a digital camera.
With everything of value saved at least digitally, I then only
keep what I feel would have meaning the us or the kids when
they're older. This way I end up keeping only a few pages per
month, but I can look back to anything they've done.
The scanned images look great and don't fade like the originals.
They're also very useful for including in printed books or party
invitations or the like.
What made dumping so much of their art doable was thinking of
what my goals are going to be in keeping the art. I can't
imagine when the kids 'come of age' giving them the key to the
storage facility where the crates of moldy artwork are.
Saving them the best will make it all the more valuable.
-can't keep it all
We take pictures of all our kids favorites and keep a digital
file on the computer.
I also have cheapo plastic frames on my kitchen cabinets that I
rotate my favorites into for a few months, then take a picture,
then recycle them. My kids are 7,10 and 13 and go to a very
artsy school, so we cannot keep even 1% of their stuff!
I have one art folio folder for each of the kids in the
basement for extra special stuff we can't bear to part with.
Art loving Mama
I found a great solution. Why not save some pieces and use them as
cards for holidays, birthdays, etc. The recipients always have
extremely unique pieces or art and no two are alike. You can get
plain paper bags with handles and glue a piece on the outside and
it becomes a very nice gift bag, or if its a smaller sketch why not
make it into a gift bag tag. The possibilities are endless and who
can resist art work creations. Plus think of the amount of money
you can save on all those cards.
Loves art but hates clutter
I saw lots of responses suggesting photographing children's artwork
and then putting
it into an album. Another idea is to use it as wrapping paper. I had
a girlfriend who
did this and it always made me feel special.
My Kindergartener is a prolific artist and could spend her whole
day coloring and cutting and craft-making, if allowed. The
problem is she gets attached to what she makes, or says its for
certain people that I don't even know (so I can't facilitate the
delivery process). When asked to clean up or make choices about
what to keep, she cleverly says that certain pieces are for me
or my husband. I can tell she's doing this in order not to have
to deal with the clean up herself. It's pretty hard to say ''no
thank you'' and I could always chuck it later (and believe me,
I've been caught doing so and was excoriated for it), but I want
her to start making good decisions about what's worth keeping.
Right now, she just doesn't discriminate and has scraps of paper
and drawings crammed into any box, basket, drawer she can get
to. I've tried to help her reduce, but there's always some
excuse to hold on (''That's for Sarah'' -Sarah who? - ''Sara that
I played with at the park that day'')and when I suggest that we
get rid of it because we've never seen Sarah again she cries or
says ''Actually it's for you, Mom.'' I hate to raid her drawers
and just throw stuff out -- my mom did that to me and I really
resented the heck out of it. How can I involve her in the
process without the major upset or having the problem passed on
As a picture book artist and writer I suggest that you hold on
to those drawings for awhile, even if they do not seem important
to you. I still get the feelings of attachment when I send my
work off to New York publisher's, I always retain the rights to
my artwork and it is always returned to me at the end of the
So in reality by beiing able to keep her artwork she learns to
have control of how it is dispersed.
They have great plastic storage boxes at target theat are really
cheap. Then at a later time in life you could go through it and
pick the best together.
We have had the same problem. Instead of trying to force the
issue when the artwork is still fresh in her mind, we've created
a bag where I put the artwork that I would throw away (and yes,
I've been caught before too -- not pretty). When the bag gets
full-ish, I'll ask her to go through it then (or throw it away
myself). She probably won't remember where the artwork was
intended to go by then and won't be so attached.
We also let her paper her room however she wants, so her artwork
can liberally adorn her walls.
Note, however, that none of the artwork that we think is
particularly spectactular is going either of these routes.
Either we're framing things to put up or I'm saving things in a
box, with her name and the approx. date (to distinguish our
siblings' things later when we won't remember). For big things,
I'm going to get an inexpensive portfolio.
I have also gone through the things that I've saved periodically
and culled from there -- I have a habit of keeping too much too.
In our case, I'm the one who can't throw away any of the kids'
artwork! Are you mostly concerned about running out of space to
store things, or worried that you might have a pack-rat? If at
all posible, I suggest you let her keep the things that are
important to her, for whatever reason. Can you get a few large
under-bed boxes to store stuff in (if you have any under-bed
space)? Or have some very special boxes in the
basement/garage/attic where thing move every few months? She
could decorate the boxes to make them special. Then, if space is
a real issue,and you feel you must, perhaps you could weed
through them a little bit after a LONG time goes by (like a year
or more). By then, she's unlikely to remember specific pieces.
Just be sure you do it while she's not home, and bur them deep in
the recycling can!
I know some people photograph art works, and keep the photos -
but that might not be good enough for your daughter!
I was an elementry art teacher for many years and was constantly
asked this question. ''Too much art...what can I do to save the
best and chuck the rest?'' There are a few things that seem to
work the best. You can create ''books'' at kinkos taking as many
similar size papers as you want and have them spiral bound. They
look sooo neat all bound together, it makes the child feel the
work is important, she can easily show it to people...and you can
easily store it! Make a new book every so often when too much
occumulates...having HER be the editor. Make her really LOOK at
each piece of artwork and evaluate '' how much work (or coloring)
was put into it...scraps, and things crumpled I would discard first.
Another thing that really works is buying a! large Art folder with
handles. You can get them at any art store. Store all the best
pieces in this and label it by year ( or half year!) They store
Another great idea is creating an ART WALL. Allowing her an
enire wall as a GALLERY is a wonderful way to honor a little
artist. You can buy metal sheets ( or cool squares, pottery barn
.com) and just using magnets constantly change the EXHIBIT!!
I hope some of this advice helps. It's always important to
encourage self expression!! (but believe me..I know you end up
with a lot of....stuff!!)
I read in a magazine to have your child select her favorite art
projects to be displayed in a designated place; then pack up the
rest to send to grandma. As she generates more art, she'll have
to choose which ones to be displayed in a limited space, not ''any
box, basket or drawer she can get to.'' Then ! your daughter won't
feel like her art is being thrown away; her art won't be all over
the place, and grandma (or whomever) will be happy to receive it.
It is wonderful that your child is so interested in creating.
Why not help her make an a ''art box'' or a album where she can
store her work? It will cut down on the clutter, and give her a
special place to put it. Another idea is a bulletin board in
her room so she can display it. The important thing is that you
continue to encourage her to do what she loves.
Please let her keep it! My mother kept lots of my artwork, but as a kid I didn't
how much (I wasn't as attached as your daughter is). When she died and I was going
through her stuff, I found several scrapbooks of my kid artwork, and it was
wonderful- both to know that she had kept i! t, and because it was so interesting to
me to see it. She always admired my work and let me take extra arts and craft
classes beyond what my schools provided. Eventually, I wouned up majoring in art
Can you make a special place for her to keep her artwork, a box or small extra
bureau that will let her know that it is special to you too? Better yet, can you make a
special little 'art place' for her where she can work and keep her supplies, and teach
her about the importance of putting the lids back on paint jars so that they don't dry
out, and keeping her supplies in a degree (as much as is reasonable to ask from a
kindergartner) of order so she knows where they are, etc. If you are clever about
doing a bit of reorganization in her room or somewhere else in your house/
apatment, finding a free or cheap table or desk or such in Marketplace, that
wouldn't be so hard to do.
To me, it sounds very positive that she is so enthusiastic about something. Encourage her, help her out
with this, let her do her own thing her way. Who knows, maybe she is on her way to
being a very talented artist.
Would it help to designate a certain drawer or tote bin or some
other container as her art drawer, telling her that is her
special place for her artwork--once it is full, she will have
to decide which items to toss to make room for new work. You
don't want to raid her drawers and repeat your upsetting
I can so relate to this! I have a prolific kindergarten artist,
too, and he's been prolific for at least 3 years. I'm just as
attached to his artwork (and his older sister's) as he is, so
it's a struggle not to get drowned. Here's my process, although
some parts may come ! too uncomfortably close to what your mom did!
He has an art desk in his room. At the end of each day, I ask
him to tidy it. He has to choose whether he is 1) still working
on something (in which case he can keep it on the desk); 2)
happy to recycle it (he calls these ''mess-ups''); or 3) wanting
to save it.
If he chooses to save it, he has a drawer in his room where he
puts it (the drawer is about three inches deep, so that the
backlog doesn't get too overwhelming). When the drawer is full,
he has to go through and sort as above. If the thing is super
special or oversize, and it's a saver, he gives it to me. I have
a big box where I put those.
Periodically, I go through my ''save'' box, late at night. I make
excruciating choices about what to keep and what to throw out. I
do the throwing out right that night, out of the house. If it's
too hard for me, I get my husband to do it for me. Then I file
the ultimate keepers in a box in the closet. At this point, I
have saved more than this child will ever want to look at again,
but hey, I've thrown out even more.
Now, this has evolved over time, and it sounds like your child
might not be ready to make these kinds of choices yet. In that
case, maybe you could just say ''okay'' and ''thanks'' to everything
and put it all in your box and do the late at night culling
periodically. That's the way I handled it until this year, when
my kid wanted to be more in charge of his own choices.
I fervently hope this helps! Good luck!
mother of future important artist
I have similar issues with my 6 year old and not really under
control but here are some ideas-
1. if you have digital camera, let her be part of a process to
take pictures of as many creations as she wants and burn a CD
2. then say she can make a book every month (week?) with 10 (?)
pages (hole punch the artwork/ stuff and tie together with
string/ ribbons- she may start to enjoy this as it's another
crafty thing to do)
3. I think she could be too young to be a part of throwing out/
recycling and you might still have to do it in secret for a
while. I think it is normal to have this strong feelings/
attachment- as she made it and it may be hard for her to
separate, i.e. it feels like part of her. However I would just
gently emphasize that we can't keep everything, and need to
ma! ke room for all the wonderful new things she is creating.
4. Send drawings, etc. to relatives and friends out of town.
Anytime you mail someone a card include one. If any of the
unknown friends you mentioned is imaginary or not someone
you'll likely run into, she could fill an envelope or bag for
them, write ''to'' and ''from,'' and you could pretend to mail it
to them, if you don't mind being so tricky it might give her
5. If she can tolerate it, cut heart shapes out of old
drawings, paintings to make valentines for her friends.
good luck! (we have many drawers I can't open crammed with
these sorts of things but your post has inspired me to start
I suggest finding a box to keep her artwork and make it clear
whatever is outside the box will get disposed of. She can then
make choices about what goes out so something can go in.
Our daughter loves to paint and draw. A couple of years ago we
started using all of the artwork as our wrapping paper and
making cards (thank you cards, b-d, valentines, christmas cards,
etc) for all occasions. We've made cards out of the artwork by
pasting different shapes onto construction paper. Our daughter
loves picking out which piece of artwork goes with what present
or card. Makes the present even more special for her or us to
give and also the receipient. In addition, its been a big help
in our budget. The ones she wants to keep for herself we tape
up in her room.
Here's a way to store art neatly: Get some 3-ring binders
and a three-hole punch. Punch holes in the drawings and
keep them in ! binders. You can fit a whole lot of pictures in a
big old binder.
Put the child's name and date on the back, and let her write
(or dictate for you to write) whatever she wants about the
picture on the back too. Also she can paint on the cover of
the binder, or glue a picture to the cover, to make it like a
book. She can also use dividers and looseleaf paper to
write stories or organize her drawings into ''chapters''.
A great place to get binders, paper, and all kinds of binder
accessories **really cheap** is the
East Bay Depot for
Creative Reuse in Oakland.
Binders seem to be going out of style, and the Depot has
tons of old, sturdy, cloth-covered ones in all sizes, from
small to huge. I think binders, dividers, etc., are great tools
for kids to play with to prefigure skills they'll need later in life,
such as designing, planning, writing, organizing their
thoughts and work, taking their work seriously, and even
I would love ideas of how families display and store their children's
artwork. Our refrigerator is already packed and taped-up artwork doesn't
seem to hold up well. Also, I can't yet bear to throw anything out. Our
preschooler is 3 and we have quite a collection already. Thanks.
We used a clothesline, strung along one big wall in our
children's bedroom (at 3 levels) and used clothespins to
display the "collection". We rotated old and new artwork on
and off the display. The old artwork was piled up, and then
every few months we'd go through it and cull the best. (As
time passes you'll become less attached to every single
one.) A few months later we would "de-accession" from the
collection again, until we had a reasonable amount for the
year, which we then put into an acid-free storage boxes
(obtained at art supply stores, or through Exposures
catalogue). I have a feeling that once we go back into the
yearly collections, we'll be able to dispose of more. You
could also consider photographing some of the art work
before disposal. Believe me, by the time your kids are in
elementary school you'll become much less sentimental -
particularly when they start bringing home masterpieces made
of clay. We display them for a while, then move them out to
the garage, and if the children don't ask about the piece
for a few months, it is consigned to the dustbin of history.
I recently was given a box of goodies that my mother had
saved from my elementary school career - 7 years worth in
one box. That seemed like just the right amount. (My
second grader was delighted to find that there was a tracing
of my feet and hands from second grade that exactly matched hers!)
I too can't bear to throw most of my 3-year-old's artwork out, so I
designated one hallway in our home (a very public hallway, by the
way), her "gallery." We have about 20 pictures hanging there
now--ranging from random abstract paintings to textile art with poms
poms, feathers, noodles, etc. I also put one of her bigger paintings
in her room and a few of my favorites in my office. When it's time to
put some away, I store them in a big box and I try to date them. I
know some parents don't like to clutter up their houses with this
"messy" stuff, but I love seeing it all around us and she's thrilled
every time I tape a new one up.
We looped "clothesline" along the kitchen walls, right next to the
ceiling. We clip artwork up with clothespins; there's room for lots of
stuff, its very cheerful and I don't mind so much storing or recycling
pictures after they've been up a long time.
I have put up string like a clothesline along the wall(s) in my son's
bedroom and we hang his artwork from it with clothespins. It's at a
height that he can reach, so he can arrange things as he likes, and it
couldn't be easier to add and remove things. dpbrenner
For displaying artwork, we have a working pile in the garage that
gets sorted periodically. At this point, our 4 year old chooses some
favorite pieces to put up with tape on a section of the kitchen wall
we cleared for the purpose. I also bought some relatively
inexpensive black plastic art portfolios in different sizes at art
supply stores. We use these to store, protect and show the art that
we choose to keep. Its fun to see how good one's artwork looks in
such a setting. The rest gets recycled into collages or cards, or
for present wrapping. Sounds so organized, but the pile is almost
toppling over at the moment! Yay for fountains of creativity!
displaying: my sister has 3 girls who paint and draw continuously.
She has a few of those inexpensive poster-sized box frames hanging in
her den. One frame can hold a big piece, or several smaller works.
She rotates the kids' art through the frames - changes them every
month or so. I guess it is a big honor for a new picture to go up.
saving: My oldest turned 18 last month. For his bday I made him a
scrapbook with photos of his friends, drawings and schoolwork,
activities, etc over the past 18 years. This took me several days
because I had to plow through a big box of artwork and other stuff I
had saved over the years. To tell you the truth, I saved WAY too much
stuff. And it is really hard to throw it out once you have been
saving it for 15 years. So save selectively. What you really
want is a nice representative sample of special stuff. But one thing
I found in that big box was versions of him writing his name, first in
pre-school, then in school, then cursive, etc. all the way up to his
current illegible signature. I made one page in the scrapbook with
"Joe"s all over the page he'd written over the years. I think this
would be a fun thing to save - signatures over the years, pictures of
pets over the years, etc.
If you have a blank wall in your living room or den, you can put up
two picture hooks about 4-5 feet apart and attach a string from hook
to hook. Then you can hang children's artwork with clothespins from
the string. Each of my children has such a "gallery" which gets
layered upon as the year progresses. I periodically remove the back
layers and (selectively) pack their treasures away with the rest of
their schoolwork for the year. Aside from seeing their artwork and
feeling proud, the best benefit is it only leaves two small nail holes
in your wall where the picture hooks are.
Some ideas for what to do with your child's artwork:
--laminate some and turn them into placemats
--use the art in a 2001 calendar. Last year our 9 year old daughter
picked 12 of her favorite drawings, color xeroxed them, put together a
wonderful 12 month calendar, and gave them out as gifts. Instead of
xeroxing drawings and creating identical calendars, you could also use
original art for each calendar you produce.
--use the art to wrap presents--especially presents to family members
(they will appreciate it more than a pre-schooler).
--frame some of your favorites and turn a wall in your house into an
I put a few things my son has done in frames. For everything else -
that I consider original artwork and that represents a statge I have
purchased large folders (with closing flaps) at an art store (one for
each year) and then decorated them with my son's name and the year and
anything he wants to do to it. Then we put everything for that year in
there. He is now 10 and loves going through his old artwork. Since he
started school, things like stories and poems go in there too.
Perhaps you can rotate your displays and get used to throwing some of it
away or recycling it -- I recently read something about how if kids bring
home an average of 3 pieces of artwork a week starting in preschool, you're
talking about thousands of items by the time they stop (after grade
school?)! My 3-1/2 y.o. daughter enjoys using her artwork as wrapping paper
for gifts, and also giving them as presents to her friends and family (then
they can eventually throw it away without attachment or guilt!). Funnily
enough, she always seems to pick the pieces I most wanted to save -- but
hey, that's up to her!
To the mother who doesn't know what to with her 3 year
old's art work. One thing you can do is to get
together with your child and decide together which
ones do you want to keep and throw away the rest.
Another solution is get an inexpensive portfolio and
beging making an albun of the ones you both like. You
can make it into a fun game and your child can have
access to it to show other kids (or yourself to show
your child's art work to others) I have scanned my
three year old's art work and put all her best art
work on a CD (which you can print or make cards or
later to send to relatives). I have picked up along
with her the ones we think should be put up and framed
them. One other thing I have done, (I am an
Interactive Designer) is to create an interactive CD
with her paintings and made it into an experience for
her alomost like a game with music and titles. (If you
This Christmas I made a copy of this interactive art
gallery to give as a present to her her Mom. If you
are interested and learning more about interactive
art work for kids you can contact me here:
We bought a great file cabinet with 12 big wide drawers that are about 2"
high (it's the type of storage photographers and graphic designers use). We
found ours at a wonderful place behind Magic Gardens on Heinz (by where
Whole Earth used to be.) We store all our artwork in it, take it out often,
and every year I take one of each kids' pieces to the Reprint Mint on my
birthday and get it poster mounted. It's their gift to me.
Years ago I bought an old wooden shoji screen frame (sans paper) from East
Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. Unfortunately, I could never figure out how
to get either paper or fabric into the frame without destroying it, so it
was just gathering dust. It turns out, however, to be perfect for
displaying my 3-year-old's artwork. I folded the three sections of the
screen so that's it's a big triangular column. I use removable tape to
attach pieces of art to the inside of the screen panels, cutting larger
pieces of art to fit the frames. I don't have to be very precise about
pasting the stuff on, since only the "good" side shows. Our "art column"
usually sits in the entryway of our home, so everyone gets to see it. One
whole side was filled just with Halloween and Thanksgiving art. Now we're
filling up another side with Christmas art.
I have the opposite problem from the person who just asked about
saving their children's art work. My son is 2 and a half, and I
throw out almost all of the mountain of art he brings home from
daycare. Of course, I admire them in his presence, and ask him
about them, but he seems totally uninterested. I never throw them
away in his presence or make fun of him, and I have put a few up on
the fridge, but I just can't seem to save them if he is not
interested. On the other hand, I am a real art lover- my son has
already been to many of the great art museums in the country, and he
does not hate this at least. Am I hurting him by not making a bigger
deal of his artwork? Do other parents throw it away- from the number
of comments from the last question, I feel guilty for throwing so
much away. Lisa
I recently visited my sister who has two little kids and was very impressed
with her solution. She found two large, carved and gilded picture frames at
a junk store and hung them on the wall. Now she can tape up each son's
latest and greatest creation inside the empty frames in an elegant "gallery"
on one wall of their dining room.
My son accumulates what seems to be a "mountain of art" as well and I
probably toss 75% of it on the sly. The main reason is that a lot of
"art" is actually a variation of what he and all his other classmates
have been asked to make using specific materials or colors. While
results of that kind of exercise communicate other areas of his
development to me and is often cute, it does not strike a chord of
sentimentality or genuiness like a piece inspired and created by his
imagination -- and those are the types of pieces I tend to keep and
Re: throwing away your kid's artwork. Yes, I throw most of it away except
for the pieces I especially like, which I stick on the wall or date and put
away in a folder so I have a record of what kind of work she was doing
when. My daughter doesn't seem to care at all whether or not I keep them.
I actually think that the drawings that my 4-year-old daughter does at home
are more interesting than the elaborate artworks she produces at
pre-school, and with those, I know she does them all herself, so I'm more
likely to keep them. (I often use her drawings as bookmarks.) I'm asking
to stay anonymous just because I don't want to offend any of the pre-school
teachers who might read this and who may devote a lot of time to helping my
daughter with her art work -- I don't want them to think it's not
appreciated. It is greatly appreciated -- I just don't think the results
all need to be preserved.
I just had to respond to this, because I have two little kids who have
produced tons of art over the last few years, 90% of which I've thrown
away. When my oldest daughter was about two or three I expressed my
concern to her very wise preschool teacher about how little concern she (my
daughter) had about preserving any of her pictures, paintings, play dough
masterpieces, etc., and this teacher told me "little kids are into process,
not product." I've realized over the years that this is very true. Kids
live in the moment, they enjoy the moment of making the art but are quite
casual about disposing of it. My younger daughter makes about a dozen
drawings a day at her after school program, then crumples them up and
shoves them in her pockets. She uncrumples them to show them to me, and I
discreetly dispose of them later. Neither of my kids has ever asked "What
ever happened to the something-or-other I made?" I do tape up my favorite
and most colorful pictures in their rooms just for decor, and they have
permission to display anything they want to in their rooms. I also keep
quite a few of their pictures on the bulletin board in my office & enjoy
looking at them. When my kids visit my office they're always pleased to
see their old stuff. But I have no guilt about not keeping more.
RE: Children's artwork : I use some of my daughter's artwork as
wrapping paper. The receivers of gifts are quite impressed with what I
was just going to toss in the recycle bin.
I used my daughter's art work as wrapping paper and to make birthday
this page was last updated: Nov 9, 2010
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