Saving Kids Artwork

Do you ever feel bad throwing your kids artwork away? I know I do. They work hard and are so proud of their work. I feel similar when I create things; it took my time and energy and if I just end up throwing it away it feels like a waste of time.

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But I can’t keep everything. I am not exaggerating; Eden could easily create up to 15 masterpieces in a week. Between preschool, church, story hour at the library, and our home projects the papers easily pile up. Some of these creations are beautiful and worthy of keeping forever and then others are coloring book pages or quick scribbles. While I could see keeping a couple of these there is no reason to keep the hundred of these that could be colored in a years time.IMG_5020

Up until now I have stored their artwork on either the fridge or on a hanging display in the basement. Pieces could hang for years but as new items are created some old ones come off and then get placed in my filing cabinet with all intentions to figure out a way of saving and storing them later.IMG_5012

IMG_4773From time to time I would look through the cabinet and clear out the lesser works but the keep pile has grown to the point that it is time to do something about organizing them.

I started by going through everything (while Eden was at preschool so I wouldn’t have to deal with her questioning my choices). IMG_4765As I worked I took pictures of each item (except coloring book pages and scribbles – and yes there were many of these in there) and sorted them into one of two piles: keep or trash. Because I took pictures of each art piece I didn’t feel as bad throwing away items.

The photo taking took awhile but now that I have all the old art work captured my goals is to take pictures as things are created. Smart phones make this so much easier. I almost always have my phone on me and therefore I have a camera. So know when I pick Eden up from preschool my goal is to take a picture of her creation right then and there.

IMG_4749I also love the idea that I can get her with her artwork. When looking back at her artwork I will be able to see her grown and change as her abilities grow and change. I don’t know that I will have her in every picture with her artwork but at least some.

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Besides taking pictures of finished artwork I also went back through our old photos and found pictures of the kids doing their art work. Looking back these are some of my favorites. I get to see their sweet little faces, their messy painted bodies, and their art work.

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I want to do better about taking pictures of the art process. Many of the art projects we do are more about the process than the product. Most of the fun of art is the process; I want to help my kids remember these times.IMG_4490

This idea of taking pictures of their work is also grown to include taking pictures or some of their other creative creations. Forts, snowmen, lego creations, decorated cakes, and dress-up ideas are all able to be saved, remembered, and stored.

I took all of these images and created a digital folder for each kid on my computer. I then created a short slideshow of the images so Eden could see all of her creations together. Eli didn’t really have enough for a slideshow yet but it won’t be long as he loves painting, building, and sculpting right along with mommy and big sister.

IMG_4811I didn’t throw all the artwork away. In my keep pile where the best items. From these I assembled a binder of my favorites. I used clear page protectors, put pieces of artwork on both sides, and put them all into a three ring binder.

IMG_4809Some of the items I had to cut down or folded to make the fit into the page protectors but I took a full picture before doing so to be sure we had the whole image saved. Eden really enjoys flipping through her book; she hasn’t even asked about her “missing pieces.” Please don’t let her know I threw them away. She will understand someday but today she wouldn’t be real happy with me.

IMG_4438I want to share one more great way for saving kids art. A couple years ago we bought these Lil Davinci Art Frames as Christmas gifts for my parents. They can hold up to 100 pieces of 8.5×11 inch art. Their older creations are stored behind their newest artistic endeavor. The hinged door and spring-loaded pocket make it easy to insert and store their work.

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The idea was that every few months my kids would make something special for Grandma and Grandpa and mail it to them. We did pretty well the first year but have slacked over the last year (we will try to do better Grandma and Grandpa).