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save kids artwork

Curating kids’ artwork: 5 steps to minimize mess and preserve treasures

With a new school year starting, this is the perfect time to plan to be organized! Follow these steps to enjoy and preserve your children’s masterpieces without them taking over your counters, walls and fridge!

Curating kids’ artwork: 5 steps to minimize mess and preserve treasures:

Fifth in a series of posts to help you organize your family memories…

Part 1 (7 steps to manage your photos)

Part 2 (4 steps for curating home videos) 

Part 3 (Saving voicemail)

Part 4 (4 Steps to digitize old photos)

Do you have baskets and bins and boxes overflowing with precious artwork or other masterpieces by your children?

Me, too. 🙂

It’s really hard to throw away those treasures made by our beloved children and grandchildren. And, wow, do they multiply quickly!

But I’ve learned to streamline and am working my way out of the old piles.. and thankfully not making any new ones now that I figured out a simple process.

Here’s the process in five steps:

1. Deal with it every day. If your child comes home from school with something to show you, or makes something at home, review it and enjoy! Use your judgment- and their feelings if they are extra attached for a reason that’s unclear to you- to decide whether to keep or toss at the end of the day.

2. If it’s a special piece for whatever reason, scan it with your phone. But FIRST make sure the child’s name and date is visible on the piece- add it if needed! You can take a picture with your camera app, but you will have even better results with a free scanning app like CamScanner, PicScanner, Shoebox or Heirloom. Quick and easy!

Curating kids' artwork: scan precious masterpieces with your phone! You make memories. We make them last.

3. Give the file a name that includes the artist/author’s complete name and date. Save it in a specific folder in the same location as your family photos. Within my yearly picture folders on google drive, I make one called “Ryan masterpieces 2016” and another called “Rebecca masterpieces 2016.” So my folders look like this: Google Drive/ pictures/ 2016/ Ryan masterpieces 2016. If you aren’t saving in the cloud, make sure you have a backup!

4. For most artwork, be okay throwing it away after you have saved a digital copy! Or put it on the fridge or mantle for a week and then replace it with a newer one and discard the old. For the most special pieces (perhaps one per month), save the original. You can put it in a page protector in a special binder for each child, or for larger pieces a portfolio folder from an art/hobby store works well. Again, make sure the artist’s name and date are on each piece! (Someday, you don’t want to be trying to remember whether it was Little Johnny or Little Jane that drew that special family picture!) For artwork or stories related to particular holidays (and precious pieces that incorporate tiny growing handprints- thank you, wonderful preschool and kindergarten teachers!),I save the originals and carefully store them with seasonal holiday decorations. They make annual appearances as part of our home decor for the holiday, and are warmly welcomed with fond memories.

Curating kids' artwork: save special seasonal pieces with holiday home decor to make annual appearances. You make memories. We make them last.

5. Publish the digital artwork you saved. Every year, make a photo book with the scanned artwork for each child. Use your favorite photo book service- Shutterfly, Costco, Blurb, etc.- to build a book of just that child’s masterpieces. You don’t even need to add captions. The artwork, already signed and dated, speaks for itself. That’s one small book each year to preserve those treasures. How fun it is to see their masterpieces side by side and notice the improvements in drawing and coloring ability, handwriting, and spelling… as well as the evolving themes about which they express their creativity in words and pictures.


Curating kids' artwork- sample masterpiece books

With a few minutes each week, you can minimize the mess and preserve treasures of your children’s masterpieces that you and they- and their children someday- can enjoy for generations.

Don’t leave your tale untold…


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