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What To Do With All the Kids’ Artwork?

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It’s that time of year when our kids start to come home every day after school with a backpack full of artwork. Teachers are cleaning out their classrooms, and winding up the year by sending things home daily. By the last day of school, you can expect your kid to be toting an additional grocery bag full as well.

While my kids are in high school now and don’t bring much art home, I still have years of school artwork hanging around. Some pieces I have cleverly crafted, and others are shoved in bins and boxes, waiting to be looked at again.

Pinterest is full of checklists and brilliant ideas for utilizing our kid’s artwork. But if you are like 95% of the parents I know, these ideas often remain pinned to a Pinterest board, and are not usually revisited or executed.

When artwork starts to flow into the house, many moms hastily stash it away to be dealt with later – later being when you end up moving homes or something that sparks simply digging out those boxes again. With so much emotion attached to the things our kids create, it can be hard to know exactly how to manage it in the moment. Soon, years of old and tattered art pieces end up being stored away and never looked at again.

There are few things that any parent can do which will help minimize the mountain of art that piles up over the years. Some ideas are simple, and others more crafty, but there is something for everyone on this list to help manage our kid’s school art projects.

Frame it. As soon as it comes through the door, pick a few pieces to frame. You can use the same frames year after year, and keep the older pieces in the back of the frame if you still want to save them. I like to display them among other photos and pieces of professional artwork.

Scan it.  Scan it or photograph it and archive in a computer file. If you want to do something with it, you could create an iMovie or simple slideshow video to share with family and have as a keepsake. I also love the idea of putting it into a photo book and creating a year-in-review of your child’s art.

Download and use an App. There are a few apps online dedicated to saving kid’s artwork such as Artkive, Keepy and Canvsly. Each has different functionalities for sharing, organizing and creating gifts.

Collage it. Create a summer project by taking pieces from drawings, paintings and other crafts, and combining it into a bigger piece. We have used craft glue to affix pieces to a canvas, making a larger project to be hung.

Gift it. Save certain pieces to make into prints or cards that you can gift for special occasions. Or choose other pieces and create a mini art gallery in your home by hanging or pinning pieces to the walls. Invite extended family over and make it an event, giving them the option to take home some of their favourites.

Trash it. It may seem ruthless, but trashing it before it lingers around the house too long is the easiest way to deal with it long term. Use the  Konmari method and keep only those things that bring you absolute joy.

The reality is, if you simply can’t part with it, you will end up storing it in a Rubbermaid bin, look at it once and awhile, get sentimental and close the lid again. You will end up moving it from home to home, and then try to gift it to your kids when they leave home.  My mother saved years of my artwork and school notebooks only to bring me over a huge box of momentos when she downsized homes. While it was fun to look at for an afternoon, I swore I would never do the same thing to my own kids.

So when it starts pouring in the last week of June, make a plan! Start making piles to scan, gift or trash. Once school starts back in September, you will be lighter and ready for the inevitable influx from the upcoming year.

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