Let’s face it, there’s only so much room on the fridge, and hanging macaroni art or finger paintings on the living room wall might not be to your design taste. No judgment, it’s not mine either. So what do we do with the countless art projects our kids create in camp, in school, at after-school programs, at friends’ houses, and at home? Sure, we can toss some of it, but we naturally want to keep a lot of it, albeit without creating clutter. Luckily, there are some fun ways to display and store your kids’ artwork, all while getting them involved in the process, too.
Let Your Child Decide
Kids love to show off what they’ve learned and accomplished, and that’s why a DIY gallery wall is a great way to give them some ownership of their space and their artwork.
Hang several empty frames of various shapes, sizes, and colors in your child’s room. Then give her some blue tacky or scotch tape and let her decide which of her masterpieces to display. The artwork can easily be swapped out, and older pieces can be moved to storage (or recycled!).
If you don’t have a ton of wall space, leave it to Target to sell the perfect solution. The Loft by Umbra Kids Art Display & Storage frame allows you to store artwork right in the frame: Your child can pick a piece of artwork to display while storing several other pieces behind it, and she can switch it out when ever she feels like it. It’s a space-saving lifesaver!
Another easy that way for kids to display their own art is by hanging a wire and attaching some clothespins to it. Haeley Giambalvo, a DIY expert and founder of the blog designimprovised.com writes, “The art wall has become a rotating display in the playroom. It is right by their table so the girls can hang up something on their own once they are done.” It’s a simple and fun way to display kids’ art.
Solutions for Small Spaces
New Yorkers know apartment space is sacred, simply because we don’t have a lot it. And even in the ‘burbs, plenty of us find extra wall space is at a premium. We turned to Sharon Lowenheim, a certified personal organizer and founder of Organizing Goddess, to give us some advice on how to display our kids’ art when we don’t have a lot of room to do so.
“First, you need to decide how much space you are willing to devote to storing your child’s art,” Lowenheim says. Once you decide if it’s a little or a lot, she suggests you “buy a portfolio or plastic bin of the appropriate size, and then make sure that you don’t exceed that space. This will require you to continually make decisions about what stays and what goes.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Throw It Away
Throwing away your child’s art is usually harder on the parents than it is on the kids—cue the mom guilt! But unless it’s a particularly special or important project, your child will probably not be all that attached to it. After all, they create so much! Talk with your child about recycling his art instead of throwing it away. This might make the conversation a little easier and also help to teach him about repurposing items and the process of recycling.
“We always involved our daughter in making the decision about what would be displayed and what would go directly into the recycle bin. Small children are very passionate about recycling and will understand that what doesn’t get kept should be recycled,” Lowenheim says. “It’s important for your child to learn that not everything can be saved, and that decision-making about what to keep is important at every stage of life,” she adds.
If throwing your kid’s art away just simply isn’t your style you always have the option of gifting it to friends or relatives. Sending several pieces to Grandma and Grandpa is a great way free up space in your house, while at the same time deepening their relationship with their grandkids and reminding them just how important they are to your kids.
Turn to Tech
These days, there are tons of ways to store your kids’ art and schoolwork on the web. Apps like Keepy allow you to store, save, and even privately share your children’s artwork and schoolwork. All the photos you take of your child’s work is uploaded to the cloud, which is backed up on Keepy’s own server to insure your stuff is always safe.
Similarly, the app Art My Kid Made is like an Instagram for kids’ art. Parents take a photograph of the artwork, upload it, tag it, and share. You can also upload to other social networks through the app, and there is even an option to print.
After putting pieces on display for a certain period, it might be time to put them away to make room for newer pieces of artwork from the creation machines all children are. Here are some great ways to store your kids’ art:
- Souvenarte Books will make a coffee table book of your child’s art. “It’s a great way to honor your child’s creations without having to save them all,” Lowenheim says.
- Snap a photo. Even without a dedicated app, photos of kids’ art can be uploaded to the family computer, where they can be viewed at any time or put into a photo album that is easily accessible when you’re feeling nostalgic. Or, if you have a digital photo frame, you can display your child’s art on rotation.
- Make your own storage binder using clear sheet protectors. Much like a photo album, you and your children can go through it together and see their progress through the years.
For larger artwork and projects, Bonnie Dewkett of The Joyful Organizer suggests, “For three-dimensional pieces of art, the easiest thing to do is take a photo of your child with the piece; keep it [the project] for a little while, and then dispose of it. I usually suggest moving it to another area of the house, such as the garage, after a period of time. If it’s not missed, you can easily get rid of it.”
As much as we want to honor our kids’ work by keeping and displaying it, it is also important for children to understand organization and tidiness, and how to know when to keep and when to throw away certain items. Letting your little Picasso curate her own bedroom gallery might have you well on your way to a more organized home.
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Main image: A child hangs her artwork in frames her parents have hung on the wall for this purpose.
Heather Bauer, thecaterpillaryears.com