It’s pretty common to get a ton of kids’ artwork piling up in your home. The drawings the kids do at home, at school, and in the car. But what are you supposed to do with it all? It doesn’t feel right to throw it away, but you definitely can’t keep it all! In this post, I’m sharing what I do with the artwork, how to teach your kids to pick their best work, and the best ways to reuse and repurpose. These are strategies I do with my own kids along with teaching in-home organizing clients these tips as well.
What To Do With Kids’ Artwork
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Decide What To Keep And What To Recycle
I am sure you have kids’ artwork lying in multiple spots throughout the house so the very first step is to round them up from every area. Get them all together so you can see what you have. Then, go through and decide if you want to keep the artwork or recycle it. Recycle works best when it is a piece of artwork that you don’t really love or isn’t your kiddos’ best work.
Get the kids involved in this process! This is a good time to teach them how to pick their best work. For example, my son loves sharks, and he made it his mission to learn to draw sharks. Over time, we collected so many shark drawings! So instead of keeping them all, we kept the best of his early drawings, the best of his mid-way drawings, and the best of the best. That way he can see how he progressed.
Then Sort Again… This Time Into Repurpose and Keep
Once you have gone through your giant pile of artwork, you get to go through it again! This time, we are focusing on what artwork to take pictures of and repurpose and which ones will be keepsakes.
Pro tip: I only keep as keepsakes what I feel like I need to touch. For example, footprints in clay. Drawings on pieces of paper are fine to photograph and turn into a book or a poster. Looking at a picture of it is just as good as looking at the real deal.
How to Make Books
Once or twice a year, I’ll get a big piece of white tagboard and lay it in front of a window that lets in a lot of light. I lay the artwork on top of the tagboard, take a picture, and save it to a folder on my phone called “Eli’s Artwork 2020.” Then I send it over to Chatbooks. When your kids are old enough, they can even help take the pictures.
How to Make Posters
You can use lots of little pieces of artwork to create one big poster. Each little picture ends up being a little square that makes up a bigger piece of art like a heart or another shape. They’re so fun, cute, and unique. Minted.com is a great resource for this!
How To Upcycle Artwork
You can upcycle your kids’s artwork in lots of different ways. My first suggestion is to keep it in mind to use in a new project. You can take any of the artwork your kids have created and turn it into something else. Recently, we found out my son had a last-minute project to do, so we decided to use some of his old artwork to create Eric Carle inspired artwork.
You can also pass them along to grandparents, family members, or the local nursing home. If you have a lot of pictures, nursing homes love to share the artwork with all of the residents.
You can also use them as gift wrap. We just take a bunch of their artwork and tape it together, wrap gifts, and pass them along to their friends’ or cousins at birthday parties. Now it’s out of the house!
Making them into cards works great too. You can cut out pieces of their artwork and attach it to heavier cardstock to create a card. You can even attach their artwork to envelopes.
Displaying Kids’ Artwork
One thing to keep in mind is that at first, your kids will have a hard time letting their artwork go, even if you’re putting it in a book. Until they see the finished product, they’ll be a little hesitant. That’s okay. One trick for in the meantime is to find a quick and easy way to display their artwork. Once they’ve displayed it for a while, they’ll have an easier time letting it go down the road.
There are so many ways you can do this–get creative! I’ll get you started with some ideas: You can create a corkboard wall or cover a whole wall with clipboards (these ones are colorful). Or you could add close pins to frames, create a wire display, add clips to hangers, or use magnetic picture holders. Once your display wall gets a little full, you can go through the artwork, and your kids will have an easier time letting go.
If the artwork is one of your favorites, put it in a frame. You can rotate it out, or you can even find frames that let you store multiple pieces in one frame.
More Ideas For How To Display Kids’ Artwork
Gift Ideas Using Kids’ Artwork
Of course, you can pass along the finished piece of art as a gift to grandparents or family members, but you can also turn their artwork into all kinds of cool, useful things to gift. For example, you can turn your kids’ artwork into a canvas. Some companies will turn artwork into a notebook cover, a plate, stuffed animals, pendants, or a keychain. Some prints can even be turned into bigger beads to create necklaces or keychains. These are such fun ways to repurpose artwork to repurpose and gift.