If you are a normal parent you probably think your child is a budding Picasso. Here are some tips to go about organizing kids’ artwork without going crazy!
Organizing Kids’ Artwork
I am hoping to glean some insight on how to manage my daughter’s obsession with drawing. I have under-bed storage boxes, large Rubbermaid containers and various boxes FILLED with her drawings and other artwork.
While I love her artwork, it is really getting out of control… She’s only 7, plus I have a 3 year old that just started pre-school so he’s going to start bringing home his own creations and I’m 6-months pregnant with our third child… more stuff to look forward to in the near future.
When I suggest to her that she “designate” a drawing for a friend, she starts a new picture instead of giving one of her friends the drawing she has just completed. Our refrigerator looks like a cork board of pin-ups and I have a pile of drawings on the end of the kitchen counter.
I just don’t know where to put everything anymore. It makes me sad that I sometimes have to tell her to put her paper and pencils, crayons, etc. away because I know I don’t have anywhere to put these things once they are completed.
I would box everything up and put it in the attic, but we live in AZ and I’m afraid it might be a fire hazard (just kidding… sort of).
I sincerely hope you can help with this. Thank you so much for your most informative blogs and newsletters. I make recipes from “Not Just Beans” (now Dining On A Dime) nearly every night of the week.
God Bless your ministry,
Ok, this is going to sound harsh but I just dump it. I love my kids more than anything but I can’t keep every drawing they ever make. We have a one drawing limit on the fridge. If they make a new one, the old one goes in the trash or in a folder. Once the folder is full, they have to pick out an old one they don’t want anymore and trash it. That is for the older kids.
For kids 6 and under I just “make it go away” when they aren’t looking or when they’re gone. They forget about it after it has sat on the counter for a day or two so I just trash it.
You have to teach your kids that they simply can’t keep everything. Yes, we keep some of the prize masterpieces but the entire last 10 years is in one box!
If she just won’t get rid of it, you can do one of two things: Box the the not so great stuff up and then dump it in a month or two when she forgets about it. You could also sit with her and hold up two pieces of artwork. Then say “do you want to keep this one or this one?” Do this for all of it until you have 10 or so pieces that she really wants to keep. Tell her she has to choose or you will choose for her and it will go in the trash.
You just can’t keep it all! So start getting rid of it before roaches start breeding in all that extra paper!
Here is an excerpt from our Organizing Kids Bedrooms e-book that mom wrote.
If you are a normal parent you probably think your child is a budding Picasso or at the very least your child himself thinks he is. Since most of us don’t have a small art museum attached to our homes, trying to get the hundreds of masterpieces produced each week by our Picassos under control can be a challenge. Here are a few things that might help you prevent it from becoming a hair raising and heart wrenching for the two of you.
- Hang a piece of twine or heavy string along a wall or tie it between the bedposts at the end of the bed. Using clothespins, you can hang the child’s pictures along the string.
- You could also hang a piece of scrap sheet metal to use like a large bulletin board and then use small magnets to hang the pictures. If you want to get really creative, glue buttons, seashells, silk flowers, beads and other pretty knick knacks to the magnets for decorations.
Note: Be sure to use heavy tape or molding around the sheet metal to protect from sharp edges.
- Paint a couple of the cabinet doors, bedroom door fronts or walls with chalkboard paint so the children can have a chalkboard. You can also put up bulletin boards or thin sheets of cork for hanging drawings. You can also buy magnetic paint to paint a wall and then use it to hang drawings.
- When the area you have designated to hang your child’s art work gets full it’s time to purge.
- Get rid of as much of the artwork as you can. If your child wants to hold on to it all then let them keep what will fit in a file folder or small box. Chances are pretty good he will want to keep most of it but don’t despair. Younger children want to keep everything so you may have to keep quite a few from those first couple of years. Then someday on your own, you may have to sort through them and eliminate some.
Moms: don’t let your emotions get in the way. Those “memories” aren’t worth nearly as much as the memories of the stress free, clutter free and well organized home you should create for your child.
- Take a picture of the artwork with your digital camera, a less bulky way to store it.
- Keep artwork that you want for memories in a file folder, manila envelope or small box for neat storage. This helps you figure out how much you can save. For example, tell yourself “I will keep only what will fit in one file folder and the rest must go.”
It does get better as the child grows. My oldest grandson would not let go of any of his artwork (and he remembered every piece, too) but by the time he was in third grade he couldn’t figure out why he kept all of them and wanted to get rid of everything, so there is hope.
It does get easier. I once knew a family who I was helping declutter and the 12 year old son said, “I don’t know why mom is keeping all of these drawings and school papers of mine. I don’t even remember what they are.” The moral of the story is that it is usually you, mom, who is having problems letting go and not the child.
If you are storing things in boxes in the attic or under the bed do you really think your child remembers them? You are really doing your child an injustice by wasting your time packing up, cleaning around and organizing those things instead of spending that time with the child himself.
Use some of the artwork as wrapping paper for grandparents, or other family gifts, only don’t tell the kid or she will make a new one.
Scan the artwork, or representative pieces. Save to disk or an SD card, and keep a few on the computer if you want. That gets rid of the mess, and your children can watch and start learning a thing or two about electronic archiving.
In a few years you can get them a CAD program and start them on drafting or architecture??
I agree with Margaret… we scan them into the computer and annually put them on a disk. But, we also scan photo. We no longer print out all the pic we take, but annually create disk for family members..
I would lay my son’s artwork on the bed and I would put two, sometimes 4 artwork papers/drawings together and take a picture. (Then make them disappear) Then I would develop the picture and use them as extras on the photo album page…decorations or boarder or??? I only wish I had thought of that when my daughters were that age. School projects, stuffed animals, take a picture of a few together and cut them apart. Saves on film developing and still keeps the memory.
Mike And Katie
www.cozi.com has a free collage program.. you can scan all your little picasso’s pictures, then this program takes them and uses them as a screensaver collage…my 6 kids love to see thier pictures on the computer, they spend hours watching the hours of pictures that they created. Also when they get older and move out, or head off to college i can make them each a CD of thier pictures to take with them…
One year I scanned each and every picture, report card and school certificates that I had for each of my 4 children and saved them on shutterfly.com allowing me to make photo books to give them as gifts for each of their 21st birthdays. I also so this for clients by placing images on CD’s. I’m currently working with my youngest (14) setting up an online store where he’s already sold his artwork on zazzle.com!
scan to CD’s/ upload to a free photo share site.
Scan it in the computer and then put everything on a disk. You can then use the artwork as a screensaver or go to snapfish.com and make a book. These are wonderful gifts.
When my children were in pre-school, I would line their artwork up on the refrigerator and take a picture of them standing next to it. They would also hold a piece or two. That photo went in the scrapbook and the “real” art went in the recycling bin. (Not in front of them, though.) Anything with handprints on it I saved in a special file folder.
They also have cute little “clotheslines” from Land of Nod hanging on their bedroom walls. The artwork goes on there and then gets replaced with new work.
I love the idea to make their artwork pictures into a book. Some of the photo websites offer free photobooks quite frequently.
Discarding kids artwork (and school papers and projects)is hard. My son is grown up now but I vividly remember the dilemma. Actually, it is a great teaching moment for kids to decide what to keep and what to discard. And it is good character training for them to realize that not everything they produce has equal value, and that it is not a tragedy to “let things go.” For all of our lives we have to let things go, we have to give things up, and we have to decide what to retain, not only materially but socially, psychologically and spiritually too. It is good to learn that if you let things go, it makes room for something new and fresh. Being frugal with money and possessions is really a metaphor for life. When I realized this, I felt liberated. But I’ll admit that I still have a few pieces of artwork I’ll cherish until the end.
I used some of their better work on stationery. The print shop shrank them down to fit a corner.
I saved all of my son’s artwork from kindergarten. He did have a page he done
in the 4th grade I think it was, I would of loved to have had it, but I guess
the Teacher tossed it! She described it to me tho. It was supposedly a Mothers
Day drawing and he had put To: Rosa on it. :) Now that he is with the Lord
anything that he did in school was precious! While I can see people with stair
step children can’t keep everything, why not buy a notebook and some sheet protectors and keep the best drawing or paper from that week in that binder and
you can buy a label maker and put the year on it…. just saying you can keep
more than you realize you can keep if you organize it!
My solution was to get a really nice fabric-covered binder from a craft store and fill it with those plastic paper-protectors. Then I put my son’s very best artwork in it, in order of creation. Everything else was trashed. Now that he is 10 years old, my son is on his 2nd binder.
Note that *I* am the one who makes decisions on what goes in that binder, and while I sometimes take it out for him to look through, he is never around when I put things in it. It’s not on public display but is kept in my room in a private place as it’s for when he is older. Usually I wait until I have a pile an inch or two thick and then just take a few minutes one evening when he’s in bed and sort things out.
So…now when he makes something especially nice, I put it on the fridge and anything I put on the fridge is marked with his name and age. Usually it stays on the fridge until he draws something else that either he or I thinks is special. When I replace the fridge drawing I decide whether it goes into the pile for the binder or whether it is surreptitiously trashed. And of course as I go through the pile I only pick the best items for the binder.
I figure that when he’s an adult I will probably have about three 3-inch binders full of his very best artwork, all organized and protected. One more thing! Anything that is created but is too big for the binder or can’t be put in a binder (pottery, or 3D artwork for example), I take a photocopy or photo of it and put that in the binder as a record of it.
Of course my son also wants to keep some of his artwork for himself, so anything that he decides to keep is kept in a file folder in one of those plastic file folder boxes in his room. Once or twice a year I encourage him to go through it and when he does he usually picks out some items that he no longer wants to keep. So in the main, it is a collection of his most recent pieces, as kids tend to see things they created 2 years ago as “babyish”, no matter how fondly their moms see them! :)
Just a heads up on online photo albums.
read the fine print.
they can use your photos and anything you post for their own benefit. They can sell them to other users and they profit and you don’t.
Some sites even state that you lose all rights to your pictures once they are posted.
So check very carefully which sites you post your pictures on. Nice to show them off but not nice when they are taken over.
Learned this from experience not hearsay.
mom of 3
I toss most but keep the
detailed or meaningful ones. Ones that were drawn for a reason, a memory. The ones I keep go in a folder by kid and by year. I go through them once a year and pull out ones that dont strike me anymore. The rest go in a box for them to keep when they get older.. to show their kids. I have a small box for each kid. It also holds their first blanket (which I made), and other special items and awards. My photos go in a scrapbook – one for the whole family each year. Sometimes two years go in a book. I dont scrapbook every photo either.
I do write the name, age, grade and date on the back of all the ones I keep. And, if its a drawing of something specific, I will put those details on the back too.
The ones I toss go in a pile by my desk so the kids know Im keeping it and its nice that they drew it – a thank you. At the end of the month, I will weed out those and keep the good ones. Frig drawings stay up for about a month and I keep the really good ones.
I would like to know if your parents saved all of your artwork for you through the years. I think it is safe to say obviously not, and there in itself lies the answer. Although all of the above ideas are good, the fact is that you don’t have to do anything or save any of the kids artwork to be a good parent. That said, I do have some of my favorites of my kids artwork hanging in the house. You can always designate a frame in your home for artwork, the new gets framed, the old gets tossed. Lets not turn ourselves or our children into hoarders trying to show that we are good parents.
Jennifer, my MIL did just that. When it was time for her to move to another city my husband and I went every day for 2 weeks working 8 hours a day to clean out her house of the clutter. Things from when the children were youngest was 3 to when they finally moved out. She had 6 children. The stuff would have been more but most of it had been burned in a fire 5 years earlier.
She was a pack rat big time. Time magazines from when it first was published. Newspapers not clippings just the entire news paper. Books, flyers for sales from stores that don’t exist today.
I am not a keeper but after those 2 weeks I made up my mind to not become one. I have a small box of keepsakes and pictures hanging on the wall.
Do not make it difficult for your children to go through your life wishing they didn’t have to clean when you are no longer there.
Let them remember you not your clutter.
I am still young and do not have children myself but I do teach 2 year olds. Several of the parents that do not have grandparents that live close by have told me how they solved this problem. Artwork the kids bring home is displayed in various places throughout the house, (parents bathroom mirror, children’s rooms, fridge, string on the wall) and their favorites that involve hand or footprints or something that is very special or unique goes in a box). Around the first of the month they empty the fridge of the artwork and go with the kids to a local nursing home and they can donate the artwork there. Most of the people there love to see the kids come in monthly to donate their “previously displayed” artwork. It teaches the kids a great lesson about being kids to the elderly and spending time with them.
I like to hang A “Art Line” (like a clothes line) on my kids wall above their beds. then hang the art from the line with mini clothes pins which I get at our local dollar tree.
I haven’t yet done this myself, but recently read a great idea….take pictures of the artwork (at least the ones that are special or you or they really like), and then put them on a digital photo frame. It’s so simple to keep adding and them to the frame and you have them all together displayed and neat and tidy! Plus the kids think it’s pretty cool to have a whole photo frame dedicated to their artwork!
for Christmas my granddaughter sent in the package a Christmas tree coloured by her.
it is the first piece of school art work and she was so proud of it. Her older brother had a card with a lot more detail as he is older. Anyway they are now in glass frames hanging on our bedroom wall.
clean safe and where they will see them when they visit.
No picassos but more special by far.
the frames are $1.25 at the dollar store so we have lots of them as my husband uses them to give to people when he takes pictures of them at events.
when we lost our house in 2004 (due to the hurricanes) we lost all of our children’s art work that i had saved ..
strangely enuff, in my bedroom (in the back of the closet) there were 2 artworks packed in a box (why? i am not sure but there was 1 from each of them) ..
and they werent damaged or wet or anything ..
so that is all i have of my children’s artwork ..
and to be quite honest, that is fine with me ..
with the technology they have today i think its neat u can put things on a disk and save it … :D
Hello, you can take digital pictures, or scan your children’s drawings and upload them to
Your friends at paintdo.com
Preserve Children’s Art Forever (TM)
I keep all of the artwork in a box. Once a year I have the kids go through their boxes and get rid of what they don’t want. I get final approval, so if there is something I really like we can keep it. I find that they are far more brutal and realistic of what should be kept. It is also a great way to way to revisit the past and enjoy the memories associated with all thier work.
Great article! Wanted to point out to everyone an awesome app I use for this. Here’s the link: http://getapp.keepy.me/Checkoutkeepy1 It’s called Keepy, it’s a super simple way to organize and share kids artwork and walks you through every step. I love it. Now I can throw away the paper copies without any guilt at all! Hope it helps. :)