I often have people ask me what I do with all of my children’s arts and crafts activities when they’re all finished. It’s very common for kids to want to keep it all, but that’s not always realistic. I don’t like piles of things around my house. So what should you do? How much should you keep?
We do not keep everything. And my kids know that we don’t. Here are some options that work for us:
Display children’s arts and crafts
Some things are able to be displayed in the children’s bedroom (my older kids each have a bulletin board in their room for this purpose.) Some of their art adorns our refrigerator for time. I even have a simple clothes line in our play room where they can hang things the kids are currently proud of.
Hey, you might even end up with a handful of masterpieces that you want to frame and keep forever.
When we make seasonal things (such as Christmas or Easter crafts) we generally display it through the season. When it’s been displayed long enough, read on for more options.
Have a place for children to put their work, and set limits
I always have a place for kids to put their fresh artwork. So when they’re like “Look, Mommy! I drew you a picture”… and I’m cooking dinner, I can say “Wow, it’s beautiful! put it in your drawer so it doesn’t get lost, ok?” I have a set of 3 plastic drawers for this, each labeled with their name.
Last month, my kids got really into origami. Then it seemed like my house was raining origami. So I provided Lydia with a plastic tub. She may keep as much origami as fits in the tub, and when it’s full, she chooses what to get rid of.
When your “put it away” place gets full, read on for more options.
Try to make useful things
Most recently, Lydia has been on a big pot-holder-weaving-kick. Great! I have several new additions to my pot holder drawer in the kitchen. If they make jewelry, put it in their jewelry box. Craft on a bag. Decorate a shirt. Make a rosary. Anything you can make into a Christmas ornament is a big plus! All useful things.
Give it away
When your pot holder drawer is getting full, encourage your children to make pot holders for others! And melty bead creations. And rubber band bracelets. And whatever else your kid is into right now. Give them to grandma, and neighbors, and Godparents, and old people at church. Make a stock pile of things for Operation Christmas Child boxes, or donate things to children’s shelters. Don’t forget about the possibility of mailing stuff to distant relatives!
Keep a portfolio
As a homeschooler in South Carolina, I am required to keep a portfolio of my children’s school work. I keep all of our favorite artsy/crafty things (that can be made flat) in the same portfolio. Each new school year, my kids each get a big 3 ring binder. I fill it with clear page protectors, and drop their work in as the year goes on.
When their “put it away” drawers get full, I pull everything out, fill the binders with the best stuff, get rid of the not-as-good-stuff, and then start fresh with empty drawers.
When I was a kid, my mom gave us a piece of poster board each year to decorate. She then stapled another piece of poster board to it on 3 sides, making a giant pocket. We could keep everything we wanted from that year that could fit in the folder. Her attic is still full of these- lol.
What I mean by this is, encourage your children to create some things that aren’t keepable. For instance, provide them with good magnadoodles to prevent tons of pictures from piling up in the first place. This tip is also good for the trees. Another example of this would be sidewalk chalk pictures. Certainly can’t keep those! Yet another example would be to make edible crafts. Yum, yum!
When you end up with an unexpected masterpiece in an unkeepable medium, move onto the next step- Photograph it!
I photograph pretty much everything (it’s the blogger in me that makes me do it), but I really do feel better about getting rid of stuff after it’s been properly documented. Sure does take up a lot less space on my computer hard-drive then in my house.
Yep, that’s right. When it doubt, throw it out! When I am going through projects and throwing out a bunch at one time, I generally do it after bedtime, I use a paper bag (opaque) and I take it directly out to the outside trash can. If I’m throwing away just one thing, I fold or crumple it first, then make sure to cover it in the can with other trash. No reason to torture the kids by flaunting the fact that their art ended up in the trash. However, by the time it’s in the trash, it’s generally been long forgotten because it has already spent several months in the drawers where they “turn it in”. I never throw away the newest thing that they’re super proud of.
Getting rid of things isn’t sad, it just means out with the old so you have room for the new.
What about you? How do you deal with all of your kid’s arts and crafts?
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