Kids' Artwork: Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse, Remember
School papers and artwork taking over your home? Here are some ideas to control the artwork anarchy.
It’s that time of year when our kids come home with tons of artwork from school.
What do we do with all that stuff?
An old corner entertainment unit with doors has become home to over 10 years’ worth of my children's artwork and school papers. I’m afraid to open the doors as I believe I will be squished by thousands of pieces of construction paper, not to mention the dust mites and spiders that have accumulated.
It all started innocently for me when my girls were toddlers. I didn't have the heart to throw away any of their scribbling or coloring. Then they went to preschool which provided me with more priceless works of art. Then, more masterpieces were created in kindergarten and first grade and so on and so on.
To control the chaos, I purchased personalized art portfolios from Lillian Vernon. They were pretty big but I still had so much more to store. I read an article that suggested using the current year’s book bag to corral artwork which seemed like a good idea so that’s what I’ve been doing since.
As the years move on, loads and loads of papers and more bags are shoved into the entertainment unit. It is quite overwhelming. I think it's time for me to do something with all of the drawings and art projects, but what?
I asked some friends how they handle the clutter and here’s what they said:
Kristine, a mom of three, hangs artwork on the wall down her steps into the basement. “When they were little I took photographs of them and stuck the pictures in their photo albums for them to remember.”
My sister Jackie has teenagers now but when they were little, she put "keepers" in a plastic bin for each kid so they can look at all the memorabilia later in life. She also put items in inexpensive frames like those from IKEA and let the kids decorate the frames too.
Danielle, a mom of two, said, “Here's an idea... why not have your child pick the pieces they would like to remember and take a picture of them holding it or just a snapshot of the artwork itself? Or, you could choose a piece you really like and use it as a work of art for your walls in the den, playroom or any room you choose.”
Most moms I talked to pick special pieces to display and or take pictures and save the photos and make scrapbooks. I did a little more research to see if there were other options. Here’s what I found:
- Place in a frame. There are some frames like the Lil Davinci Art Gallery that hold 50 pictures or more, so you can add and rotate the art work.
- Use several frames to create a one-of-a-kind presentation.
- String with clothespins or hang from a curtain rod for a unique display.
- Pick one wall in your house and cover from top to bottom with pictures.
- Hang on the insides of your kitchen cabinets or basement door or other closet doors.
- Display in the laundry room, basement, or garage to make a dreary place a little more cheery.
- Place under a glass table or display case.
- Laminate to make unique place mats or coasters.
- Cut artwork up and make collages.
- Scrapbooks, need I say more?
- Place in a binder with plastic covers to preserve. This works well for tests and papers.
- Scan and make digital copies.
- Use digital copies to make books, note-cards or other items, just as you would with pictures. Check out Personal Creations or Snapfish, Shutterfly, or Ritz Camera.
- Make a tote at Snaptotes.
- If you are the crafty type, decoupage boxes, tables, books or whatever you can think of.
- Color copy and use for wrapping paper or thank you notes.
- Use to make gift tags for the holidays.
- Take a picture of your child with the art work the day they bring it home and then recycle.
There are many unique ways to repurpose, reuse and recycle our children’s creations. We can keep them forever digitally or by creating something entirely new with them. We can share them with others or keep them for our kids to enjoy later in life.
The days of macaroni necklaces and cotton ball crafts fly by and are replaced with cramming for tests and term papers. It’s nice to hold onto the memory of little hands making beautiful art with finger paints and crayons barreling off the bus saying, "Mommy, look what I made for you!"