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What To Do With All Your Kid’s Projects

I recently wrote an article over at Momformation about the guilt you might feel about keeping or tossing out your child’s artwork, part of their Guilt-Free Week series. I want to expand on a few more thoughts, sharing what I do to manage the school work, projects, and crafts that my kids produce.

At our house, we showcase their artwork and school work on the fridge. It’s right there where everyone can see, it makes the room colorful, and I love to see what they’ve accomplished. I also think it makes my kids feel proud of something they did and let’s them know I acknowledge their work. So we’ve created a little system on the refrigerator. It’s our “wall o’ work”, as most of the things the kids bring home from school or the crafts we produce at home get put on the fridge.

Out of the kid’s backpacks, I go through each paper and project and pick out the “fridge” worthy items. Everything else, gets put in the recycle bin or trash, no hard feelings, or guilt! The kids are happy as they still get to see things displayed and I’m happy that we’re able to find a home for everything.

Once their work has time on the fridge, about a week or so, then it’s decision time. I talk with my kids about the project and if they want to keep it forever. Although I do have veto power or my son would want to keep it all. I think this is great for kids to go through, really thinking about and deciding what they want to save. They don’t need to keep it all, only the things that have real meaning to them or something that they might want to save and look at again when they’re older.

After we’ve decided what to keep, I have a clear plastic tub for each child and we place the really important, have-to-have stuff inside. Then it gets stored on a shelf in their rooms. For everything else, we reuse it if it’s supplies that can be broken down and used again, we recycle it if it’s able, or we send it to the trash.

This system work for us, it’s always good to evaluate what to keep or get rid of. I’m hoping to teach my kids a little bit about organizing and managing their stuff. (Even though I need to do a little better job organizing my things!)

Here’s a few articles I’ve come across sharing what to do with all the papers, school work, and craft projects. There are some great ideas, like giving projects to Grandparents, taking photos, making an album or book, etc.

What system do you have in your home? Do you use the fridge, a wall, or the back of the garage door for display? Do you trash projects right away or keep it all forever in fear of making your kids feel bad? I’d love to hear how you manage it all!

 

 

32 comments

  1. I do not remember where i saw it but I also have a space where i post their work, either once a week- since i have 3 kids art work- i take a picture of it and while still saving my favorite, i still get to keep their art work on file…. this way- a picture of a group of picture is way less cluttering.

  2. Don’t forget to write the name of the child and year or grade on the back of your art.

    My mom kept a box of memories but it was my brother and I combined. We could never tell who made the art or when it was made until it was from when we were older and wrote our names.

    With multiple kids in the house, it’s a quick fix for when you are enjoying the treasures later.

  3. We hung the kids art on their closet doors. When the doors were full we put up a sign with the date and their age and took a picture of them in beside the doors. At this point the kids picked out a couple of items they wanted to save (in a portfolio) and we took the rest down and disposed of them.

  4. I do a couple things:

    1) Sort artwork out and send it to the grandparents & aunts and uncles. They love getting projects from the kids! (And then they have to deal with trashing it and I don’t have the guilt!)

    2) Take photos and make them into note cards.

    3) Keep a special box for each girl and they get to pick and choose what goes into the box and what gets recycled.

    4) I’ve recently started a scrapbook for each of my girls. I put in there special drawings they’ve made for me, letters to Santa, etc. It is my hope that when they have their own families, I can pass these on to them (since I’m lousy at scrapbooking photos!)

  5. I stumbled upon your blog today and had to comment… This is a total coincidence, because it just so happens that yesterday I finished up this project and ordered a book that I made that documents my oldest (a 5th grader) son’s artwork. I took a picture of each piece, edited them in photoshop elements and then organized them into a book. I absolutely LOVE how it turned out. Because of ALL the art I have saved (and now feel okay to get rid of) he will end up with a preschool art book, a kindergarten book, and a 1st – 5th grade book. I posted his preschool artwork book at my blog, you can find it here: http://ourdailydoings.blogspot.com/2011/03/art-books-completed.html

  6. I have four children, and it’s always been a challenge to keep all of the papers in a manageable size. Every year, I go to the neighborhood pizza store and get four pizza large pizza boxes that haven’t been folded yet. I bring them home and let the children decorate their own box, then write their name in large letters on the edge of the box. They get assembled inside-out so the pizza logo is on the inside and the artwork is on the outside. All year long, the children can decide which art projects they can keep in their boxes, but they know that they will have to purge as the year goes by, or learn how to be selective in what they save. this has worked for Years now, and doesn’t take up much space at all. The current year’s box is kept on their closet shelf, and the previous year’s boxes are downstairs on a storage shelf. The children Love to look through their boxes, and they are already really good at making decisions about keeping vs. saving.

  7. We put them up on a special wall gallery for a short while, then into a drawer. At the end of each school year we (or really I) go through the drawer and pick out my favorites. It is still so many, and they stay tucked away for no one to enjoy. This is why I started Simply Create Kids (http://www.simplycreatekids.com). We now have gallery-style posters that look they belong in a museum on our walls to stay. The kids love seeing their work, and I love the layouts–very clean!

  8. My son used to come home with HUGE art projects from preschool. I would take a photo of him holding it, so, at the very least, I’d have a record of it when it gets faded, torn or thrown out.

    I have a master plan to photograph and load all my kids’ artwork onto a digital frame to hang in our kitchen and cycle through our favorite art. Still planning that…

  9. Gotta remember this. My son is just 18 months and I haven’t thrown any of his daycare projects away. Want him to see them one day. But the project bag is getting pretty full.

  10. I try to hang up my son’s school projects for a week! I was trying to use a file folder system, but that got out of hand quickly and was just a mess- too many projects! (He’s in Pre-k). Now, I use my scanner to scan them into http://www.aboutone.com – they’re preserved forever and I can get rid of some clutter! Plus, then I can go through them all with him and he can see them on the computer- he gets a kick out of that!

  11. I have an art wall in the playroom that we created with picture hangers and wire. When it is full, we change things out. I take pictures of everything before we toss it and then I place the pics in the individual child’s yearly scrapbook.

  12. When our kids were school age I kept each year’s papers, artworks, projects, and all things like that in a big box in my closet. At the end of the school year or just before the new school year I went through that box and put things to be kept in each child’s own plastic lidded box big enough for reasonable sized papers; often done without the kids present. Then, when the kids moved from home, after college I gave them their box of saved papers and projects for them to deal with. Everyone was pleased.

  13. Great ideas! Since my daughter started kindergarten I am being over run with art and schoolwork pages. I found a great way to “keep” the art work. I scan all the really good art work and when I have enough I plan to put them all into a collage and have it printed as a poster or something like that.

  14. I was struggling with this idea for the last couple of years and resorted to just throwing everything in a box and leaving it in the garage. :( Besides, that’s where all of my high school/college work and memories were too. So why wouldn’t it be appropriate for my own children – right?! HAHAHA! Then someone told me a brilliant idea! Why not scan your most prized possessions and put them into a digital photo album! G-E-N-I-O-U-S! This way you can keep them on book shelves, coffee tables, send copies to grandparents, etc… I absolutely love the idea and plan to begin scanning all of our fun artwork and even graded papers! Another friend shared with me that she keeps artwork, graded work, award ribbons, etc…in sheet protectors in large 3-ring binders. Her 6th grader just started on his 2nd large binder, so it’s not really taking up too much room. They are kept stored on the bookcase in the main area of the house so family members can browse through anytime they want! YAY!

  15. We display art work and school work on a ribbon with clothes pin – each child gets there own ribbon so there is no fighting over room! At the end of the week we take pictures of the pieces the kids want to remember and then everything hits the recycling bin. We keep sentimental pieces in an art portfolio for the kids to have as memories.

  16. Oh – I’ve kept most of their JK stuff. Daughter is in Grade 1 and one son is in JK. I figure one years worth – only their first year of school – is enough to physically keep long term! The rest is photographed digitally. I’ll do the same with my younger son, and the little one that’s currently in me :)

  17. We put stuff on the fridge too, but only schoolwork and not home crafts. Unless they’re *really* proud of something, or it’s summer. But I do usually end up taking a picture of each piece of artwork (done at school or at home) and saving that on my computer.

    My daughter has pack-rat tendencies, so she likes knowing that her artwork is available for her to see (almost) any time. She hardly ever asks, but she likes knowing that I’m keeping a picture if not the actual item.

  18. I keep a legal size folder for each child (4) – at least until the high school years. For each year I glued their school photo on the outside and put the school name, grade and age. I saved art, school papers, newspaper clippings, photos and awards in my file. At the end of the year I thinned it out with and without my child. It was important that they be a part of the process. Each of these are then stored in a box. The kids enjoy looking back through the various years. If they choose to make a scrapbook then all the materials are available. By the time the kids were in high school, one envelope sufficed for the high school years.

  19. We hang up some (alot goes on the door coming off the garage into the kitchen – we use that a lot so it’s seen), trash some & store some. I have a box that all the potentially keep school work goes in, but I wait until the end of the year to sort b/n trash & keep. That way I only do it once and I can make a decision based on everything instead of just the day or week. So far it works for us … we shall see!

  20. We do something similar, but before we display the artwork we take a digital picture of it. Then at the end of the school year the kids help me make their own personal digital yearbook!! I saw this on Oprah a few years ago and they get really excited and have to write the captions with me so it’s educational as well!!

  21. I like your idea – I usually take their most favorites and frame them and place them round the house & I am working on a place for them to hang some of their other artwork in their room above their beds (just haven’t figured out how yet that won’t come down whey they are “playing”).

  22. I bought wire at IKEA with clips attached. It is strung across the boys’ bedroom. They can clip any artwork there that I haven’t already displayed downstairs. When the clips are full, they have to edit! Also, I like to make a color photocopy of their best stuff BUT SHRINK IT DOWN by 50% and then it’s easier to save or scrapbook. I have taken digital photos of their work as well and used those photos in scrapbook.

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