I’m often amazed by how many items made of paper my kids produce every week. Whether it is schoolwork, drawings, paintings, sticker collages or more elaborate art work, it can be a big chore to deal with all of it. Here are few ways that we try and tame our “paper tiger” without just throwing all our kids’ hard work in the trash can.
1. Have a designated spot to put it (and sort through that spot regularly). Here’s our current “done bin” as the kids call it…hmmm…I think it’s time for a clean out! 🙂 Unless something is obviously trash or someone wants to display it right away, most paper items in our house go here first. Maybe it’s procrastination, but I like not making each and every clean up time a battle over what to save or toss.
2. Display it. This could be a Top Ten list of its own, and more. A search for “display kids art” on Pinterest results in many, many creative ideas. We currently have a bulletin board in the school room. The kids can pin any of their work to the board, but they either need to take something down of their own or get permission from a sibling to take something down before a new item can be added. For quite a while I had a special display area in the dining room that I stocked with pictures. I took an old poster frame, added black posterboard to the back, then put 4 of my favorite pieces of artwork in the frame. I hope to get this back up soon, as it was a great decoration for the dining room.
3. Make an artwork binder. Maybe this is where I am being a little bit lazy, but I have been letting Mr E in particular save almost any flat 8.5 x 11 piece of paper that he wants to save in a binder. Here’s how this got started. He and Mr. K love stickers. They love to just sit and put stickers on paper. That’s art to them, I guess. It just killed me to be spending money on stickers and then throwing them away so fast once they were put on paper. Enter the artwork binder! I punch holes in the paper, and many, many sheets of paper fit in each binder. And, you know what? The boys actually sit and look at these two (so far) binders and enjoy looking at sticker pages and various drawings. They tell each other stories based on what they see. The items in these binders may not be “keep forever” sort of things, but it seems to be something they enjoy greatly for now!
4. Scan it. What about the “good stuff”? Well, if it is flat and standard size, I often scan it. This gives us a lot of versatility of what to do with it in the future!
5. Photograph it. Items that are too big to scan, like this “Happy Halloween” banner, or 3-Dimensional items can be saved for posterity in this way.
6. Save a few items for the “permanent collection”. I ask Mr. E and Miss M to choose 5-10 pieces of 2-D art to save each year (or I may pick a few favorites myself). I may or may not have scanned the items first, but after a few favorite items are no longer being displayed, I pack up these items in a large plastic bag. I’m not sure if we’ll ever do anything with these, but they don’t take up a lot of space, and I think my kids may at some point fondly look back on these items. Or maybe I’ll just be fondly looking back at them when they are grown. 🙂
7. Make a photo book from scanned or photographed art. I got this idea from Pinterest and I have followed through on actually doing it yet…but wouldn’t this be a fun thing to have on our bookshelf?
8. Use photos or scanned files to make calendars or other gifts. This has become an annual tradition for us. Grandparents love to get a new calendar every year decorated with kids’ artwork! Photo sites like VistaPrint, Shutterfly and Snapfish have dozens of “photo gift” options and often run really great sales. Why not make a mug, keychain or notecards decorated with your kids’ best artwork to give as gifts?
9. Re-purpose it. Once you’ve scanned the artwork you want to scan, and you’ve saved the cream of the crop to store for the future, turn some of the originals into something else? Large pieces of art could become wrapping paper. Smaller items could become part of a greeting card. Or if you want to really get crafty, check out this idea for re-purposing your toddler’s scribbles!
10. Give it away. Grandmas seem to love having their grandkids’ art to decorate the fridge. You could go one step beyond just giving it to Grandma by thinking of other distant relatives who might like getting a drawing in the mail, or even giving pictures to older friends and neighbors who might find that a child’s art would really brighten their day.
Do you have any other great ideas for dealing with kids’ art? I would love to hear them!
I’m linking up with Top Ten Tuesday @ Many Little Blessings!
Great ideas. I want to keep all my children’s artwork, but sometimes it can get overwhelming. I do frame and display the best pieces.
I love the idea of scanning it in. This is right my ally for a clutter free house!
Really fabulous ideas! It’s so hard not to feel bad to just throw away things, so I love these ideas. Thanks for sharing them!
[…] I cleaned out our “done bin” today. (See more about our “done bin” in this post). I had done this only two months ago, but it was already stuffed completely full. This stack […]