What To Do With Your Child's Artwork: Save or Toss

My friend over at Organizing-Life asked me awhile back what I do with all my kids artwork. Do I keep it all or toss some? How do I decide? What about bulky three dimensional pieces? Here are some ideas and options to help you navigate the piles of artwork you will accumulate over your child's lifetime.

Break your child's artwork into several categories:
  • Obvious Toss
  • Seasonal Artwork
  • Special Occasion Artwork
  • Firsts
  • Sculptures
  • They LOVE or you LOVE
  • Reuse
Obvious Toss: These items you know when their expiration date is up and when your little one isn't looking remove from fridge and TOSS then replace with their latest masterpiece. This work includes scribbles, the hundredth drawing of the same unicorn, random stickers on a piece of paper...

Emme is a prolific scribbler. At this stage I save her firsts and toss the rest.

Seasonal Artwork: I like to store the seasonal artwork with my seasonal decorations. I think it is fun to decorate the house with the heart hand prints Lulu made in preschool at Valentines Day or the glittery Easter Egg she made at Easter. Keep in mind there is a lot of seasonal artwork that will accumulate over the years. So when the kids are old enough to decide have them go through it and decide what she be kept and what should be tossed.

Special Occasion Artwork: These are creations your kiddos will make for you over the years for your birthday, anniversary, mother's day... Keep an accordion file folder for these homemade cards and drawings. Your kids will appreciate looking at these expressions of their love later in life. Of course, don't forget the obvious toss category. It is OK to toss a piece of paper with a line on it and a sticker stuck to it even if it was given to you out of love!

Firsts: First scribble, first finger painting, first drawing of a person, fish, animal, your family... These items are important to keep but don't go overboard. Try to remember to write their age and why the drawing is important on the back. Store in the accordion folder with your special occasion artwork.

I saved this and wrote about Lulu's desire to be a Paleontologist. This is her first drawing of a dinosaur bone.

Sculptures: Unless it is a true master piece - take a picture of it or of your child holding it. Then after it has been thoroughly enjoyed and displayed...TOSS!

Most kids sculptures are fairly fragile to begin with or are made with materials not meant to last the long haul.

They LOVE or you LOVE: This is tricky because there are going to be a lot of projects that you and your child are going to just love. This is where things start piling up. Save the true masterpieces. In a few years revisit them with your child and decide together which should be tossed and which should be kept. Any artwork you are not sure about - photograph.

Emme loves this and when it is taken down will be put in the folder with her age and a quick note about how much she loves this and points to it everday saying, Bub-ble.

Reuse: See What To Do With Your Child's Artwork or click here.

Tip: Consider compiling your child's artwork into a photo book which can be done online fairly cheaply or an artwork scrapbook.

Tip: Don't forget to date and jot down any info of why you are saving the artwork. If you can't think of anything to write than most likely you shouldn't be saving it! Also if you have more than one child get them separate folders.


Beth- the mama bee said...

We have some fun frames for diaplaying a good amount of work at once. Art at our house either gets labeled and filed away in plastic sleeves in binders or gets put in a basket to be used for other projects, reworked some more, or given to grandparents when we write letters. They appreciate any piece of art. Here are our frames (which is now expanded): http://mamabeefromthehive.blogspot.com/2009/05/our-crafting-area.html

Crystal said...

great tips! Our house gets overloaded with papers and projects.

MaryAnne said...

excellent tips!

Amy said...

That is such a great idea. I have some stuff in a drawer for now. I plan on putting it together.

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

These are really great tips!! I take photos of almost all of the girls' artwork. At the end of a year, I have a hardcover book printed by shutterfly or someplace similar of the best artwork photos. It really helps cut down on the clutter. We also try to use recyclables in our craft projects as much as possible. When we are done enjoying it, it goes in the recycling bin!

Katie said...

Great categories. I would also suggest taking pictures the artwork too. You can use them to make a photo book later and revisit them. One of organizer's Peter Walsh's great ideas, given on Oprah, he of TLC's Clean Sweep show fame. My friend did one of all the preschool art her daughter did over the two years and it's a great keepsake, done on Snapfish.

Abbie said...

THANK YOU!! I am inundated with weird green, orange and blue painting of...well modern art. These are some fabulous ideas. With the school year starting I expect to be an expert collector in a few weeks. I was just thinking of you the other day when you were writing about re-using, re-purposing artwork! Tahnks again! Abbie

Gail said...

Take photographs of the work and turn them into fridge magnets. Given them as gifts! Useful and they don't take up a lot of space.

♥ meninheira ♥ said...

Hi from Spain :)

I have a post inspired by this one: http://dalleuncolinho.blogspot.com/2009/08/gardar-as-suas-obras-de-arte-i.html, thanks for the tips. :)

Anna said...

I love keeping their holiday decorations to use year after year (as long as they last). I'll have to start taking pictures of their artwork too, because it is definitely piling up.


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