Schoolwork: Clutter or Keepsake?
Kids are known for bringing home piles (and piles!) of papers from school. In addition to the large collection of artwork, there's usually schoolwork like handwriting practice pages and science notebooks. Which leaves parents to figure out what to do with all of it. Keep it? Toss it?
There are lots of clever ideas for saving and displaying your child's creations while minimizing clutter.
Box it and put it away.
Put everything from the entire year in one box, including non-school mementos like party invitations, fliers from special activities, playbills from shows, and ticket stubs. Label the box clearly with your child's name, grade, and year, and then find a safe place to store it that is the least likely to get flooded or otherwise damaged. Each of my kids has an assigned color, so all their boxes are easily identifiable. The Container Store has tons of options, as does Home Goods. Personally, I love Bigso Box of Sweden, which comes in an enormous selection of colors, patterns, and sizes.
File it in a binder.
If you can pare your child's creations to a few keepers, a binder filled with plastic document sleeves works great. Just like the box solution above, my kids all have their own color, so they can easily spot their own binders. We fill them all year long with stuff worth saving, and the kids love looking through the current one as well as those from the past.
Display it on the wall.
There are lots of fantastic ways to display your child's artwork on the walls. Think about incorporating an idea that makes it easy to change what's on display at any time. A few fun ideas are framed corkboards, a picture rail, and a magnetic wall strip. There's also Dynamic Frames, a kids’ art display frame that holds 50 masterpieces.
Pass it on.
Make binders of artwork, or add photos and make scrapbooks, and send them to grandparents and other friends and relatives who will treasure these creations as much as you do. If your kids are of the right temperament, encourage them to recycle and re-purpose their artwork. My kids love to cut up their more abstract creations and use the pieces for paper mosaics. We also often will cut out part of a picture and use it as decoration on a homemade greeting card, or use whole pages for one-of-a-kind wrapping paper.
Photograph your child's artwork and save it on the computer. You can also make a book (or a calendar, mug, or just about anything else) using a service like Shutterfly. Here's a wonderful example of a book of children's artwork from Kaye Winiecki. Once digitized, you could print smaller versions of each piece to create a single collage, as Jan Eleni does in her exquisite custom collages ($950 and up). Blurb books also have beautiful options for creating books of children's artwork.
And last, it's ok not to save everything. If there are multiple similar pages, like an activity page for every letter of the alphabet, just save one or two, perhaps your children's initials or a page that had a theme relating to something your child loves. The same goes for artwork: if there are 50 renderings of the family cat, just save one.
What are your ideas for saving and displaying your child's creations?