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One of the best (and worst) things about elementary school children is their enthusiasm for the new skills they master. Now that the school year is well under way — and your child’s coloring and drawing skills are better than ever before — you’ve likely amassed a large collection of artwork. While each work of art is a precious memory, you don’t necessarily have enough room in the house to store all those pictures and drawings. Instead of admiring the art for a few minutes then secretly trashing the papers when your child isn’t looking (come on, you know we all do it!), organize the collection. Here are some creative ideas to do just that:
Purchase a 13-pocket plastic accordion file for each year and file the papers in the appropriate month, as a pocket-style scrapbook. Use the extra pocket in the file as a list of events over the year, a collection of your child’s sayings over the year, or information on your child’s class like the name of your child’s teacher, class photos, etc. The one, right, is cute…and available through amazon.com or schoolbox.com.
Elevate your child’s artwork above refrigerator status. Highlight one piece of artwork from your child each week or month, and display it in a nice frame. Depending upon your child’s age and your home decor preferences, choose a place for their framed art such as in their room, in a hallway, by the front door or in the living room. Choose a fun brightly colored frame, or a clear shadow-box style so that you don’t need to worry about matching the frame to the colors on the paper.
If your home has a more casual look, or if you don’t want the hassle of getting in and out of a frame each week or month, consider installing a clothesline-like system, where you can easily hang artwork. If you hang the line low enough, your child could even swap their art as often as she wishes. Use fun colors for the clips or clothespins and consider adding fun nobs or decorations on the clips to add even more life to the display. Here’s an affordable clothesline from The Schoolbox, that even includes multi-colored pins: http://www.schoolbox.com/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID=29177&CategoryID=58. (Photo from www.unplggd.com.)
Do you like the idea of keeping all your child’s artwork, but don’t like the idea of hanging onto all that paper? Try scanning the artwork and saving it on a digital file. Let your child name each picture, then sort it by the season, topic, or by date your child created it. Or, take a digital photo of your child holding each piece of artwork, and save those files; this makes a cute digital scrapbook that shows not only the artwork, but also your child’s age and stage when each piece was crafted.
Another benefit of the electronic file is that you can use it as the wallpaper or screensaver for your computer. You can e-mail the artwork to long-distance relatives so that grandma and grandpa can be a part of your child’s developmental changes.
However you chose to celebrate your child’s artwork, make them a part of the process. Your attention to their creations validates their creativity and encourages your little budding artist to flourish.
Diane Burdick, M. Ed. holds a masters in elementary education and a bachelors in history, and is currently pursuing her specialists degree with a concentration in teaching and learning. A homeschooling mother of three, she also enjoys freelancing for online publications.
Article edited by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.