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Totally Together

Managing Children’s Art

March 11, 2009 by  

Managing Kid Art

Kids create a lot of art. An AWFUL lot. I don’t save everything—in fact, I toss practically everything that is produced on a daily basis—but I do save and display some of the most decorative items, and the ones that show new milestones (faces with eyelashes, people with fingers, etc.).

Seasonal art is stored in the garage along with the other seasonal decorative items. It’s fun to pull out 6-year’s-worth of orange construction paper jack-o-lanterns each Halloween and hang them together.

I do keep the “newest” art on the refrigerator, but try to limit it to one or two items at a time. I prefer to use the fridge as a place to stick important papers and lists, and if it’s buried in artwork, my papers get lost.

The above picture is of a strip of corkboard surrounded by 1/4 inch round that hangs in our hallway. I put this up all by myself a year or so after we moved in, and I love it. The cork is thin, cheapy cork I got at the hardware store that was already cut in 1-foot squares. I used scissors to cut the cork 4 inches wide, and carefully nailed (with tiny finishing nails) it to the wall (use a level! seriously, use it). I trimmed up the quarter round with a hack saw (the kids were totally impressed) and nailed it on each side with more finishing nails. I then used a tiny bit of putty to fill in the holes. When the putty dried, I sanded it down and painted the wood trim white with leftover semi-gloss paint we had in How to Hang Kid Art the gargage. Any gaps between the wall and the quarter round were smoothed out with some beads of Kwik Seal (I love that stuff).

If this sounds too complicated (it’s kind of sounding that way to me this morning, and I did it), just stick up the 1-foot square cork board tiles instead. We have these in the play room over the kids’ desks, and I love them. They are easy to install using the little foamy stickers they come with (use a level), but you will need to use finishing nails in the top corners after a while; the foamies dry out, and the cork falls with the weight of too much art stuck to it. It’s up to you if you would like the cork accessible to children, or up high. My kids are good about not fussing with tacks and have fun taking the art on and off themselves, but I did install it high enough that they need assistance, and high enough to not lure  toddler visitors.

Another super easy place to hang additional art is the back of the garage door. We have an a Hang Kid Art on back of Garage Door rt area set up out there with messy crafts—painting, playdough, etc.—and I stick on the day’s work with tape. It brings a bit of life to an otherwise ugly garage door, and gives the children a sense of pride to see their work displayed.

Many decorating magazines suggest framing children’s work and displaying in matching or coordinating frames. We’ve done that, too. I love the look, but wish I was better at switching it out. These exact frames with the exact inserted art have been moved 3 times, and the art is about 4 years old. But I like it, and it is a cute arrangement on the bedroom wall. Managing Kid Art

There are lots of opportunities to recycle kid art: turn it into greeting cards, wrap presents, or send it off to grandparents. I have seen talented women scan in favorite drawings and print out the work onto fabric for an heirloom quilt.

Do not feel guilty for chucking little drawings and notes that come in daily. Save the important ones, and recycle the rest. If you kept it all, you’d be buried in paper.

What are your favorite ways to store/display kid art?

related: It’s PROM Time!

Post a comment · 41 Comments »


41 Responses to “Managing Children’s Art”

  1. JennL on March 11th, 2009 10:32 am

    Another idea that I have read about and am now working on is taking photos of the kids arts and craft projects and uploading them to a photo website to create a photo book. That way, we are not littered with fading papers but the kids will still know how proud we are of their art work and can remember what they made.

    I have also used my daughter’s paintings for thank you notes for her birthday gifts and valentines for her preschool classmates.

  2. Sherryl on March 11th, 2009 10:36 am

    Another idea shared with me by another mom — Take pictures! Lots of art can fit on a cd/dvd, so the memories will be preserved with less mess! Also great for projects that break down frequently, like Lego creations.

  3. Stephanie on March 11th, 2009 10:46 am

    Sherryl and Jenn, I love those ideas. I do take pictures of Lego or block creations, but the idea to put it all together in a Snapfish (or the like) book is a great idea.
    super cool, thanks! xox steph

  4. margot on March 11th, 2009 11:07 am

    We hung our kids’ artwork on their closet doors. Periodically we’d make a sign indicating what time period was represented, take a picture of the child in front of the artwork filled doors and clean off the doors for the next batch. We generally kept 2-3 pieces in a portfolio each kid kept in their closet. Label the pieces you keep. I also have a select few seasonal pieces I keep with our seasonal decorations. It’s fun to go back and look at the old photos and dig out the decorations.

  5. Lisajoy Marinello on March 11th, 2009 11:32 am

    I keep a 3 ring binder for each child in my kitchen when I store their backpacks. Each day when they come home I take anything noteworthy (art, certificate, note from teacher, etc) and insert into the 3 ring binder using clear page protectors. I start a new book for each school year. At the end of the year it is a nice collection of the year’s progress and a great momento! My kids love maintaining these books and sharing them with friends and family when they visit. My youngest still goes back to her 1st ever pre-school book to find this one special Ernie she made when the letter of the day was “E”. Good luck with your organizing!

  6. Jenny miles on March 11th, 2009 12:25 pm

    I took a picture of my daughter with every piece of art than scrapbooked the pictures. We kept a couple of the specail art works. Pictures here .

  7. Roxanne on March 11th, 2009 2:08 pm

    Just a congrats :-)

    I followed crockpot365 faithfully, and am happy you have a new blogging home.

    Best wishes to you and your continued success!!

  8. Steffanie on March 11th, 2009 2:53 pm

    I am so excited for your new blog. I have printed out your “daily 7″ things for organization and posted them on my fridge. I loved your crockpot blog so I know I am going to see great things on this one too! Thanks for sharing with the bloggity world!!

    • Stephanie on March 13th, 2009 9:54 am

      Danette, it’s wonderful. You did a fantastic job.
      xoxo steph

  9. Marita on March 11th, 2009 9:39 pm

    My husband scans his fav. works by our daughters and uses them as screen savers on his computer.

    My parents and grandma live interstate so I keep some of the better pieces to stick in an envelope and post off on the days I’m too flat out to write an actual letter.

  10. heather jane on March 11th, 2009 10:08 pm

    I love the CD/DVD idea. I also love the 3 ring binder and the cork strip in the hall. I’ve also been told to provide very small pieces of paper. It forces more creativity and makes less mass for storing. It works pretty well. We just did an Art Trading Card swap and I absolutely love the tiny pieces of art that were created by both my child and the other swappers.

  11. Paige on March 12th, 2009 1:49 am

    I have always hung my children’s pictures on the insides of the kitchen cabinets. You can fit a lot on the doors and it’s a nice surprise when you open the cabinet door. I will rotate the pictures out on a cupboard by cupboard basis so they stay up for some time before I get back around to that cupboard. After that the ones I really love I will put in a book to save. After my fist child I made sure to start writing the date on any new artwork because 13yrs later it’s really hard to remember how old they were when a particular drawing was done. : )

  12. Erin on March 12th, 2009 2:00 pm

    I created a blog for my son’s drawings. When he was born I started one to show out-of-town family and friends how he is doing and what he is up to on a semi-daily basis. So, when he began to draw more I added another blog just for his art. This way I can keep a lot of digital copies, and then have them dated on the blog. Friends and family can also copy them if they would like to use them as screensavers, etc. So far it has worked great!

    (This is also cool because you add text if there is something funny that came up when your child is drawing.)

    • Stephanie on March 14th, 2009 11:50 am

      I love that idea, AnneMarie. I just told Adam we needed to move to a house with more hallways! xoxo steph

  13. Natasha on March 12th, 2009 4:05 pm

    Cork board can be SO useful. I think this is such a good idea.
    I have a friend also who uses cork board for her earrings. I tried but it was too hard on my earrings. Hubby bought me a handcrafted earring holder instead at a local craft show and I love it. But anyhow that is off topic. LOL

  14. erica on March 12th, 2009 8:45 pm

    I also began scanning in my kid’s pictures and saving them on cd/dvd and via photobooks. I also hung a piece of thick cord/string across their playroom wall and hang up their most current pieces with clothespins. Before we moved and had a front hall, the string was there. My big plan is to collect a ton of photos and create a sort of one-large-photo montage of all the pictures from each year of artistic creation…so in essence, each kid will end up with 18 beautifully framed and matted pieces. However, that means I’ll have to find room to hang 54 beautifully framed and matted pieces…we may have to add an addition to work as an art gallery…

  15. Danette on March 13th, 2009 9:43 am

    Thank you for inspiring me to take everything off my fridge yesterday! Here’s what I ended up doing and so far I love it!

  16. Annemarie on March 14th, 2009 11:41 am

    We have our “gallery” in the hallway (long and narrow). We screwed eyehooks in the wall and then strung white rope through it. We use clothes pins to hang the art. We have three rows which holds a LOT of items and can handle 3 dimensional creations. I also take a picture of the “gallery” when it’s time to clean out (and I let the kids pick their favorites for their memory box).

  17. Grandma Doris on March 16th, 2009 7:49 am

    I’m too old for this idea, but it looks so great I had to share it. You can now buy magnetic paint. It looks just like regular paint. Paint a stripe on the wall, and hang anything–kids art work, posters, etc. using magnets. The idea I saw was for a little boys room, and they cut some thin magnets in the shape of cars and painted them with craft paint–very cute. Love your crockpotting blog–and that everything is GF, and love this one, too Stepanie!

  18. Renee on April 20th, 2009 8:03 pm

    Take a picture of each masterpiece; all the art you want, then put the pictures on a Digital Frame. You can keep adding to it, and ALL your child’s artwork is forever stored in one place! Be sure to take nice close-up pictures!

  19. Tabitha T on September 14th, 2009 11:47 pm

    I recently learned about . It’s an online art gallery for kids. If your school’s art teacher is interested, any merchandise created with your kids art can earn the school arts program 15%. (I’m not sure if it’s 15% of purchase price or profit. I just found out about it a week ago.)

    There are fun extras like Artist of the Week and different contests if your child is really into art. My daughter is prolific so we will put together a CD plus try out this online gallery so out-of-state grandparents can enjoy her many works.

  20. Heather on November 18th, 2009 2:59 pm

    Great ideas. Do you have any ideas for storing art supplies? They get used everyday, but usually end up stuffed under the cupboard or drawers.

    • Stephanie on December 1st, 2009 10:51 am

      Hi Heather,

      I have a few different ways I store craft supplies, depending upon the age of the child/children. We have a simple plastic rolling cart with 6 drawers that is accessible at all times. The drawers are labeled: crayons, markers, colored pencils, lined paper, blank paper, and colored paper. My children also each have a plastic pencil box that holds a few sharpened pencils, a glue stick, kid scissors, a ruler, and an eraser. If we have a brand new box of crayons that they don’t want to co-mingle with the drawer crayons, that gets put in the pencil box too.

      As for playdough, paint, sidewalk chalk, glitter, and real glue, I keep them in the garage. I’ve got one of those plastic bin storage units with a bunch of colored shoe-box sized bins filled with messier art supplies. I keep stickers and recycleable items out there too, for collages and other creations. My girls are currently 5 and 8, and can be trusted to get out one thing at a time, and not put feathers in the paint, etc. If you have younger children, or regularly entertain children who don’t adhere to the family’s rules, I’d definitely put the messier stuff up high and bring it out only when supervised.

      As for our garage set up, we’ve got a mini playroom set up out there, because our house is just too small to have an art area set up all the time. I’ve got a super cheap throw rug out there, with some little tables and an easel. It’s nothing fancy, but it keeps the glue and glitter off of the hardwood in the house, and the kids seem to not mind being in the garage. :-)

      xoxo steph

  21. aria on October 31st, 2010 1:45 am

    One of the things i have done with my son’s artwork over the years is create a “portfolio” of sorts with it.. every quarter we go through and only pick the “Special Best ones” — He has a say too in this. At the end of the year i take it to one of the Copy places: Office Depot, Staples, Kinkos, etc … and have the “portfolio” laminated and bound. I include a Title Front page (of the year) and a matching page for the back. It allows my son to go back through his work and see it, and show it off… If he did a puppet, a card or something he just loved, i have the story laminate a 8×11 envelope and i cut open the opening so it the special item can slide in and out. and include it as one of the last pages in the binding book.

    • Stephanie on October 31st, 2010 8:42 am

      Hi Aria,
      what a fantastic idea! It’s lots of fun to see the artwork bound in a book.

  22. Kimber on July 23rd, 2011 8:16 am

    LOVE your site! Just found it… where have I been? 😉 I can’t wait to read everything!! Great ideas for kids’ artwork. Any suggestions on how to tame/organize the piles of schoolwork? Thanks for your thoughts!

  23. Jaci on August 2nd, 2011 5:17 pm

    LOVE this post!! I’m drowing in paper!!! I have a clotheline along the top wall of one side of my kitchen with cute art work clipped to it, but i don’t change it out often enough. I have EVERYTHING else saved in totes/boxes/bags… love these ideas!

  24. Aimee on December 7th, 2011 2:07 pm

    I do feel guilty throwing away the kids artwork, just like I do with old pics or duplicates…It must be a mother thing. But I also have 3 kids and so ALOT of art and drawings come home all the time. I do save the holiday themed ones for the sepcific holiday and bring them back for the years to come. I pick out one picture and they pick out one one picture from every month they are in school and I add it to their school age scrapbooks I do for each of them. That way when they look back on it they can laugh about the work they did (they already do laugh and ask me Mom did I really do that?) I also let them decorate the Christmas tree with the Christmas themed ornaments, so with 3 kids, there isn’t a lot of my decorations on the tree, but thats okay. They love doing it and I love to see the excitement in their faces when they remember making the ornament and it usually comes with a story :)

  25. Kristin Lewis on September 28th, 2012 10:46 am

    I hand painted clothes pins whatever color. Than I used thumb tacks and placed them as long as I wanted. Than I used a stretchy string or fishing line and tied it from one end to the other. Than take your clothes pins and place randomly on the line. It can be adjusted and minimizes holes and looks really cute…

  26. Jessika on March 19th, 2013 12:20 pm

    This is so helpful, thank you!

  27. Laura on January 5th, 2014 6:36 am

    I buy heavy duty vinyl sleeves from CopyMax at OfficeMax, insert two sheets of kid art, back to back and use them as placemats. The sleeves are made for protecting documents and measure a big odd size- some degree larger than legal size, and happen to perfectly fit the size paper the school art teacher likes to use most. The sleeves protect the artwork, are easy to load and kids and adults love seeing the artwork put to use at the table. I even store several pieces of art in them and periodically switch them up.

  28. Stephanie on March 11th, 2009 12:36 pm

    oh wow, Jenny. Thank you so much for sharing that lay out—it is gorgeous! You did a fantastic job.
    xoxo steph

  29. Stephanie on March 11th, 2009 4:29 pm

    thank you, Steffanie! I’m happy to be of any help to you and your family.
    xox steph

  30. Natasha on March 12th, 2009 4:04 pm

    I think taking photos of the art is a FANTASTIC idea. Kudos!

  31. TIna on April 25th, 2009 6:12 am

    Yes, yes, yes! I do both of those things and it gives me such a feeling of success! I am very sentimental, but taking pictures of the artwork (sometimes with the kid holding it) makes me feel ok about eventually getting rid of the project itself! And grandparents love to get artwork presents in the mail. I have also made note cards by taking a photo of artwork that my daughter has made using a kit that a friend gave her as a gift, then printing it out, 2/ sheet, cutting them apart and folding into notecards. That made my daughter very proud!

  32. Natasha on March 12th, 2009 4:06 pm

    I Really LOVE this idea. I am grown now and still go back to look at my artwork and certificates I got as a kid.

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