What can you do with children’s artwork?
Most of my organizing clients just aren’t sure what to do with their kids’ creations. Neither are most parents. There’s so much of it. Some of it is beautiful. Other pieces are markers in time: a handprint, the first collage of shapes your child made after mastering scissors, the first time your child could sign his own name. There are watercolors and coloring pages, crocheted mini rugs, a snowman made from a toilet paper roll. What are you supposed to do with these things?
1. Cull and file:
Help your kids learn what they want to keep and get rid of by helping them organize their papers and make choices. A lot of school papers and home art projects will make their way into recycling or into a portable file box this way. Still, there will be artwork that isn’t letter-sized and doesn’t fit into a hanging file. If you would like the artwork to preserve well, you might store it in an archival box or an art portfolio case.
2. Create a Transition Gallery from Their Art
I wrote recently about many ways to create a Transition Gallery to showcase the most current pieces and switch them out when your child creates new work. Ask her what piece she’d like to take down to make room for the new one. You can even set up shadow boxes to house the 3-dimensional works or wall shelves to display them.
3. Photograph It
Take pictures of the artwork. For oversized work, this is a great method. Rather than trying to store a four-foot length of butcher paper with your child’s outline on it, you can take a photo. You might even make note of your child’s height and the date so you can tag the photo or have text for a page in a photo book.
4. Digitize It
Scanning artwork, awards certificates, a worksheet from school or anything else you’d like to remember is a great first step to organizing and preserving your child’s papers without keeping the actual item. Scanning is also a great strategy if you want to resize, print, or otherwise alter the form of the work. You can organize the scanned pieces alongside photos in folders by year/age and then use the scanned pieces in any number of ways. See some ideas below.
5. Set Up a Slideshow
With all that scanned artwork and photos set up a slideshow, then set it as your screensaver or upload it to a digital photo frame.
6. Make Stickers
You can make stickers by scanning the artwork then printing it onto sticker paper or by using a service that will print it onto sticker paper for you. Use the stickers as envelope seals, stickers to play with, decorations in a journal, or as party favors.
7. Create an Art Print
8. Make Photo Books
Make photo books with scanned pieces and photos you’ve collected. Collect very special art, your child’s handwriting, or anything you want to preserve. Then use it to make a photo book for each child with their work. You can also include photos of your child at the ages they created the works.
9. Turn It Into a Calendar
You can use multiples photos or art pieces per page or do full page art that somehow relates to a particular month or season, whether the work is holiday-specific or relates through color scheme.
10. Make Placemats
Laminate art to make placemats. Use the placemats for year-round use or holiday settings or as a waterproof mat to make more art or play with playdoh.
11. Add It to Your Holiday Decorations
Frame seasonal art (and photos) in color appropriate frames (red for Christmas or Valentine’s, orange or black for Halloween, pastels for Easter). Store them in your holiday bins, then pull them out for seasonal display. Or frame photos of your child wearing his Halloween costume or holding artwork she made for a particular holiday. Pull the set of photos or framed art out each holiday.
12. Make Greeting Cards
You don’t have to buy birthday invitations, holiday or thank you cards. Make greeting cards out of your child’s artwork. You can use the artwork itself or scan it in and get cards printed with the artwork on them.
13. Turn It Into a Banner
Make a banner to hang from your mantel by cutting artwork into triangle flags and gluing them onto a ribbon.
14. Make Bookmarks Out of Art
Cut the artwork into strips to make into bookmarks. Glue it to cardstock and then laminate it or cover it with clear packing tape.
15. Make It Into a Game
You can make a puzzle by gluing the artwork to cardboard or card stock, then cutting it. You can also send it to Zazzle or Shutterfly and they’ll make a puzzle for you. There are even puzzle templates so your child could create the art on a puzzle that you could then take apart and put together. You can also have the artwork turned into a memory game
Cut out drawings or paintings of people, animals or other figures and glue them onto popsicle sticks to make puppets.
17. Use It As Illustrations for a Children’s Book
Write a children’s story using your child’s artwork as a prompt. Then have the book printed. You can use a normal photo book printing company or make something very fancy with Petite Picasso or publish the book with Lulu and send it instead of holiday cards.
18. Make It Postcard Sized
Give your kids something to do on vacation. Then reach out to friends with postcards drawn by your child. You can buy a portable postcard kit or use heavy cardstock to create your own.
19. Create Custom Jewelry
You can have a pendant, bracelet charm or other custom jewelry created from your child’s art.
20. Have It Framed
Mat and frame the drawing or painting just as you would any piece you’d buy to decorate your home. You can have it professionally matted and framed or buy precut mats at Michaels and frame the work yourself.
21. Create It With a Use in Mind
Besides figuring out what to do with kids’ art once it’s already been created, I recommend setting up functional art projects so that when your child is making work, it has a purpose from the start—whether it’s crocheting a scarf, weaving a potholder, making sock puppets or some of the ideas above–like bookmarks and postcards.
If you would like decluttering, organizing, or design help from spaceWise, contact me by email or call 512-591-8129 to get started.