20 Parents Share How They Organize and Store Their Kids’ Artwork

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Credit: Viv Yapp

One reason I love my kids’ school is that there are tons of opportunities for art. Last year, they made mixed-media projects, large suns with glitter and thick paint, and even some glazed pottery. They’ve done clay sculptures and paintings, and now, they’re creating collage projects. With all these artworks coming home, my friends and I were at a bit of a loss about how to sort and store these varied shapes and sizes of masterpieces.

There are several philosophies about how to best honor your children’s creations. I polled roughly 20 parents — in real life and online — and gathered their thoughts on the matter. Here are some of the ideas that they said worked best for them.

Craft short-term solutions

Part of the problem with art storage is that so much of it comes through the door at once. My neighbor has a great system of putting one of those sling bookshelves, like this one, by the front door where all paper projects and fliers get dumped when they come home. This way, oddly shaped paper doesn’t get crumpled and all glitter gets contained. They go through it at night when everyone’s settled. 

Another brilliant idea is to have a magazine box system for keeping art during the year before you’ve decided on what to keep forever. You can also make all the art live in the artist’s bedroom for the school year and then do a summer or back-to-school cleanout. 

Hold on for long-term storage

A simple solution, and admittedly my current system, for keeping art long-term is to have a waterproof plastic storage bin for each kid that holds their best pieces. You can revisit it at any time, assuming you’ve stored it somewhere easily accessible. Theoretically, the curation will be in backward order, with the oldest stuff at the bottom. This does not make for easy re-accessing, but the box does give you an option for keeping 3D art like a sculpture.

The one system I heard the most often from parents was to have an accordion folder with 12 pockets, one for each grade. You and/or your child will hand select their favorite pieces to go into the folder for posterity. Most parents choose a larger than standard accordion folder to accommodate 11” x 7” paper. You can also assign a file cabinet to your children’s art if you have the space. 

My kids’ daycare sent us home on graduation day with a binder full of art, sometimes three-hole punched directly or slipped into clear sleeves along with photos and other memories. This made for a fun, interactive portfolio that stores easily. 

Go digital

In the age of technology, you can keep visual reminders of art without having to keep boxes upon boxes of physical copies that may or may not ever get looked at again. 

Create an album on your phone for each of your children’s favorite art projects. Take a photo of the art when it comes home and save it to the album. Then, at the end of the school year, sit together and go through all the wonderful art they made. 

Some parents like to share their kids’ art on social media. You can make this sharing private so only you and your family can see it either through your photo app or even on your favorite social site (Instagram, Facebook, etc). You can also put them on photo sites like Shutterfly and share them that way without having to order physical products. There’s also an app called Artbox specifically designed for keeping track of your child’s projects. 

If you’re photographing art and then disposing of originals, it’s a good idea to back up your photos on the cloud or a hard drive of some kind so the memories don’t get lost in some kind of accidental purge of your operating system. 

Or, if you must have some physical reminder of your child’s art, you can make a photo book of the best pieces, either for each kid or for each school year, including all your and your child’s favorites. This is another good way to showcase 3D art without having to keep it all. 

Keep the ones that “spark joy”

There’s one other option of course: You can Marie Kondo your kid’s art. You can do this with or without them. Say thank you and goodbye to most of (or all) their work at the end of the month, season, or year. You might not be sentimental about these creations, and don’t feel like they need to take up valuable physical or digital space in your life. That’s OK. Your child will still be securely attached to you if you throw away a drawing once in a while or all the time. The process of creation is the point, not whether or not it hangs in a place of honor on the mantle forever. 

This post was originally published on Apartment Therapy. Read it there: 20 Parents Share How They Organize and Store Their Kids’ Artwork