Most children like to create. I know it was my own kids who reignited my own interest in crafting, photography, and in play, even though I had to redefine my own ideas of what I thought was creative. But all that creating can actually produce quite a bit of “stuff” to deal with. This time of year it seems particularly abundant as school aged children, regardless of their educational setting, wrap up the school year.
Children bond with their creations, as do many parents. I know I do. So when my daughter began preschool and started bringing home artwork of various types, I needed to figure out what to do with it all. We couldn’t keep it all and it seemed wrong to simply admire and immediately recycle. We came up with several solutions for preserving all of her art in some way or another.
All of our children’s paper art is displayed on our art wall. We picked one blank wall in our home and have dedicated that to the kids. We use sticky tack (a reusable adhesive that sticks to walls, but doesn’t stain or peel paint) to adhere all of the art to the wall. It stays on display until the wall is full, at which time we take a photo of our artist(s) in front of the wall. Including our children in the photo lets us capture how they looked and how big they were during the time the displayed art was made.
Once we have our photo, we take all of the art down, clearing the wall completely. We allow our kids some input on what gets saved, but generally, it is not too much. Most of the paper art is recycled. Only the most treasured pieces are labeled with the artist’s name and date, are tucked into protective plastic sleeves, and placed in a binder for safe keeping. The binders are perfect for keeping select pieces of school work as well as art and can be separated by school year with tabbed dividers.
The photos that we take of our kids in front of their art wall serve as visible and emotional reminders of how quickly they are changing and growing. The photos make a wonderful addition to the binders, in their own plastic sleeve. Another way to keep the art wall photographs is to create a photo book, online, of all of the art wall photos, chronologically.
Our binders originated as each child’s baby book, with basic information I wanted to keep track of when they were born. Since then, I moved away from the baby book and to a calendar, which they receive each year on their birthdays, and in which I track their milestones. I also keep my own mamma journal of their lives and how mine is entwined. With all of these keepsakes, one can quickly outgrow a binder, so we make an effort to contain all keepsakes in one spot. We have an antique, hard sided suitcase that serves as a home to our children’s binders, my mamma journal, and their completed milestone calendars. It is big enough to hold a few three dimensional craft items, as well.
Another way to preserve children’s school and art work is by repurposing it. Use some of it for papier mache, to create a framed collage, or as the cover for a sketch book.
All that paper really can be easily reduced to a small volume of special keepsakes.
Nicola Alesandrini lives in Northern California with her family, where she spends her days chasing kids, enjoying bits of nature, and avoiding laundry. She’s a jack-of-all-trades who loves economical and ecological living. She writes and crafts whenever she can squeeze it in and she blogs about it all at Which Name?