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?
- 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 art work that isn’t letter size 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Make stickers by scanning the artwork then printing it onto sticker paper. Use the stickers as envelope seals, stickers to play with, decorations in a journal, or as party favors.
- 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.
- 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.
- Print it onto canvas as one piece or a collage of art.
- 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 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.
- Have it made into a poster or create a grid collage.
- Create 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Make a banner to hang from your mantel by cutting artwork into triangle flags and gluing them onto a ribbon.
- Cut the artwork into strips to make into bookmarks. Glue it to cardstock and then laminate it or cover it with clear packing tape.
- Make puzzles out of it. You can do this yourself 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.
- Cut out drawings or paintings of people, animals or other figures and glue them onto popsicle sticks to make puppets.
- Write a children’s story using your child’s artwork as a prompt. Then have the book printed. You can use a normal photobook printing company or make something very fancy with Petite Picasso or publish the book with Lulu and send it instead of holiday cards.
- 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.
- Create jewelry from your child’s art.
- 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.
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, call 512-591-8129 to get started.