In those early days, every pencil scribble, crayon drawing and handprint craft are masterpieces rivaling anything found in a museum gallery. But after a few years, even the most doting parents are wondering what to do with the volume of crafts, artwork and school projects overflowing from boxes in the spare closet.
Mount Pleasant mom of two Leigh Ann Garrett realized early on she was going to need a way to manage the folder full of papers coming home from the day care each week. She keeps milestone pieces from daughters Mollie, 4, and Annie, 6 months, including anything with handprints, footprints or Mollie writing her name for the first time.
Most of the rest is converted to digital files for creating memory books on photo storage and product sites like Shutterfly.com.
Garrett also used an app called GrooveBook. For a $2.99 monthly subscription fee, you can add up to 100 photos from your phone — such as snapshots of your child’s artwork — and they are converted into a 4.5-by-6.5-inch flipbook.
Each week, Garrett and daughter Mollie sort through her school folder and pull out what’s most important. Some of Mollie’s favorites go on a bulletin board in the playroom.
Overall, Garrett recommends using technology to manage the paper piles.
“If you can get things digitally, then just hang onto those footprints and handprints.”
Leigh Sabine, mom of 11-year-old twin boys, does a lot of craft projects with her kids to highlight on her blog, Pluff Mud Kids. But even she can’t keep it all so she scans much of Cole and Aidan’s artistic handiwork, creating memory books from the digital files.
When the boys were 3 years old, she put together a scrapbook of pictures they’d created accompanied by a quote or memory from that time. “It’s still their favorite book,” Sabine said. “They can’t believe the things they said and the pictures they made.”
One of Sabine’s favorite products is Li’l DaVinci art frames (dynamicframes.com). Each frame displays one piece of artwork while storing up to 50 pieces. Her sons decide what pieces they want to showcase in the frames.
Sabine said it’s important to highlight her children’s artwork for family and guests to see.
“My mom is a picture framer and artist, and she gave me the idea to always have something framed they did hanging in their own bedroom. They know you thought enough of it (to hang it) and you thought it was a masterpiece.”
Pam Blanton, who hosts “Pinterest with Pam” on local TV program “Lowcounry Live,” also urges parents to display children’s artwork in the home. She suggests stringing a clothesline on the wall in their bedroom or in the family room and clipping drawings to it with clothespins. “It gives the child a sense of pride when you display their work,” she said.
She also suggests purchasing six or eight frames at garage sales or the dollar store. Remove the glass and spray-paint the frames. Create a small gallery in the playroom or hallway, rotating children’s artwork in the frames as they grow.
Sorting is the key: picking out those cherished items that warrant saving and displaying others proudly in the home. The rest can be, well, lovingly recycled or scanned for easy digital storage.
Mount Pleasant mom Shannon Brown keeps everything that comes home from school for a year in three boxes, one for each child.
“At the end of the school year, I go through the box and pick out the most cherished items and important school papers, report cards, etc.,” she explained. “I display as much art of theirs as I can. They take a lot of pride in what they bring home, so it’s not right to say, ‘Hey, that’s pretty’ and then shove it in a drawer.”
More ideas for storing and displaying children’s artwork:
A few too many papier-mache creations? Hang them from the bedroom ceiling with fishing line.
Using a site like Shutterfly, create coffee mugs, mousepads, notecards, magnets, keychains and more that showcase children’s artwork. In addition to keepsake books, make a calendar of monthly artwork and give as gifts.
Take a dozen photos of the kids’ drawings and turn them into a poster collage for their bedroom.
For oversized projects and a budding professional artist, invest in a child’s art portfolio and store their work like a pro (onestepahead.com).
ArtKive (artkiveapp.com) is a free app so you can take photos of your child’s artwork, add notes and dates. You can order hardcover books for keepsakes and gifts.
Keepy (keepy.me) is an app that allows photo storage plus recordings so you or your child can record a memory about their creation or a favorite photo. A basic plan of 15 videos and photos a month is free; additional plans are $5.99 a month and $29.99 a year.
Package up a few drawings or crafts and send to aunts, uncles or grandparents. This is a great way for out-of-town family members to enjoy tiny masterpieces, and you eliminate some clutter.
Create an old-fashioned, simple scrapbook by putting artwork in page protectors in a three-ring binder. It’s also fun for the kids to look back on their creations.