How to Effectively Store and Manage Kids Artwork

The Traveling Art and “Proud” Exhibit: This can be used for all paper a child collects in a week—from art, to tests, to certificates. It is the perfect way to offer recognition, sharing of materials, but also the culling of what would otherwise be a mountain of paper. Let’s face it—most of us can’t save everything our child brings home unless we add an addition to our homes!

You can display on the fridge or try my preferred system. I have a plastic presentation folder that I picked up at an office supply store. It can be folded for easy storage, or popped open so one can easily flip through the pages. I label each page with a small label in the corner, Monday through Sunday.

Here’s how it works:

Collect all of your child’s paper in one basket through the week. (Doing this while you work through your 7-Day Action envelope is a great way to keep each other on track!)  At the end of the week, let your child go through the basket and select 7 features for the week ahead.  (You can let your child do this on his or her own, or do it along side them and use this as an opportunity to share.) Have your child separate the leftovers into art, schoolwork, other and garbage.

Each day throughout the following week “unveil” a new piece of artwork or paper. If you have this on the fridge, you can rotate. I found it easier to maintain by using the presentation easel. We would leave this on a table next to where we ate. Each night we would flip to the next page and Sammy would give us an “overview” of the feature. This provided a great way for all of us to connect with what she was working on, praise her work, ask questions, etc.

The next week either you or your child can remove the papers and put in fresh papers. Ask your child to make sure they have dated each page on the back (in pen). If you have multiple children, make sure they write their name too!

Each year I make a new 3-ring binder and fill it with blank, plastic page protectors. All of the paper in the featured exhibit is transferred to this binder. These are just as fun as photo albums to look back on!

What about the other items: Have your child sort the paperwork into four piles—artwork, tests/quizzes/homework, other and trash. Do a quick scan of the piles after they have selected the features for the week. Schoolwork is usually the easiest. True false and multiple quiz choices don’t share much about a child’s personality other than they answered the question wrong or right. I typically toss these—maybe keeping one or two to show what she was learning that year. Report cards and certificates work well and are much smaller than all the tests if you choose to archive those.

For artwork, I make sure there aren’t any “Greatest Hits” I want to add to the binder! Then I use some of the creative ideas below….

More Ideas for Storage, Sorting and Recycling of Kids Art

Send to appreciative family friends and relatives: Let your child write a note about the school year on the back (if blank) and date and send.

Create an annual letter: Similar to what many people do around New Years, but do this at the end of the school year when papers come home galore!

Wrap it up: Staple multiple pages together (or tape) and use it to wrap presents.

Make gift and greeting cards: Cut larger pieces into smaller ones and hole punch in the corner to make gift tags. Fold larger pieces in half and use as greeting cards.

Make a slide-show: Take digital pictures (or scan) and then create a slide show you can share on CD or upload online for sharing. This saves the best memories without having to save all the paper.

Oversize work: Check the portfolio offerings at your office supply store. Use this to store the best larger pieces. Available either in paper or in a zippered version.

Frame it up: I frame a lot of my daughter’s artwork. I have paintings from when she was 18 months old that look incredible in a frame! People think they are abstracts by the pros! When you find a cool empty frame, hold it over a painting and move it around looking for a “good fit.” Don’t be afraid to crop a piece to maximize its display appeal (artists frequently do this)! I have these hung throughout the house.

Laminate it: You can laminate artwork to be used as bookmarks, placemats or coasters. Laminate at your local copy store or purchase individual laminating sheets at your local office store.

Little frames: Keep an eye out for other gift ideas that feature photos but could be used for papers. Plastic coffee mugs are available where you can place a picture or collage inside. Why not use a child’s art? You’ll find similar products in memo cubes, ornaments, bracelets (small squares).

Quote books: Cut selections into smaller papers that fit into a brag book. Add memories from the child’s year, funny quotes, etc. to make this an enjoyable quote book for reflection.

Pizza Box Storage: Pizza boxes make a great archive solution. Most pizza parlors will sell you “fresh” boxes. Let kids decorate them as they like and include the year on the front. They hold more paper than you might guess!

Challenge: What kid-friendly ideas within could be implemented in your household for smoother organization? How can you get the kids involved to help? Create an action plan and share it with your family.

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