Organizing Kid’s Art

mermaid painting, mermaid art, drawing mermaids, kids art tips, art books, photo books for artwork, ariel painting, how to organize kids artAs the new school year approaches, how will you manage organizing kid’s art projects and the heaps of paintings, drawings and craft creations? Whether you have a preschooler’s colorful stick figures or a teen’s 3-D science presentation, here’s a solution that I love!

Many years ago, before I was in the digital mode for photography, and pre-smart phones, I read about an idea that stuck with me: take pictures of your children’s art work and then assemble a book of the pictures. I’ve only done this for the last three school years, but with everything electronic now, it’s a task that’s quite easy, with a little organization. (So why haven’t I started last school year’s book yet?)

When I do start it (writing this is motivating me to get to it) I use and really like Shutterfly. (You can click the link on the sidebar to go directly to Shutterfly). I am comfortable with their tools and products, they offer frequent discounts on photo books and their customer service has been exceptionally responsive when I’ve had any questions. There are other options out there (iPhoto, Tiny Prints, Snapfish, Mixbook, Lulu) for you to peruse. checked globe

When a kiddo comes home with a Groundhog Day hat, I put it on their head and take a picture, then throw away the hat. When the paints come out and the creativity flows into stacks of masterpieces, I snap a shot of each one, and toss them.

The kids can always choose to keep something that they aren’t quite ready to part with or that’s special to them, and the pieces of art that I love, I frame. We have their art covering the tiny laundry room walls and we have a “gallery wall” in the basement playroom. A couple of favorite pieces grace our main living spaces.

The kids got on board without much fuss. Generally, if they remember an art project and ask me about it, all I need to do is tell them I’ve taken the picture of it for the art book and they’re fine and satisfied with that.

My system is to take the pictures right away then discard them, but you could alternately collect their art work in a bin or basket for the year and then spend a chunk of time going through and photographing. When I upload my photos, I file the art pictures into a “Kid’s Artwork” folder for that school year. I also keep a yearly artwork folder on Shutterfly.

kids art light houses

Sometimes I put the artist into the photo

The first year, as I was putting together the book at the end of the school year, I would at times need to call the nearest child in to help me figure out whose art was whose. (Here is room for improvement, I should really start photographing with a tag labeling the creator if it’s not clearly visible on the face of the art work.) An unexpected addition to the photo books came from those times I grabbed a child to assist me.

As they told me whose cornucopia was whose, I recorded their words in the journaling spaces.  They’d tell me stories about a sketch, give me a title for a painting or explain the assignment that inspired the mosaic cow. I never would have known to write, “He’s a giant alien and his teeth are mountains,” if Michael hadn’t described it for me.

Photo art books work particularly well for projects like large posters, chalk drawings on the driveway, dioramas, collages, gingerbread houses, clay sculptures, totem poles, Lego creations, Chinese New Year lanterns, mobiles of the planets … you know the stuff.

It turns out that artwork photo books have actually made me record and retain more art pieces than I would have otherwise saved in a bin. Their art gets viewed and enjoyed much more than being tucked away for the future. The kids love looking through and reading about their old art in the books, and the grandparents have treasured receiving their own copy of the kids’ art collections.

What tips and tricks have you used to organize your kid’s art? 

page from art book

photo book of kids art Pages from one of our art books


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17 Responses to Organizing Kid’s Art

  1. Jill Lynch says:

    So great to see your books. I have had full intentions of doing this. I even asked for and got a scanner for my birthday last year to help scan in all the 1st grade items. But, they sit in a digital file waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. In the meantime, i will forget what it was. Thanks for the idea on Shutterfly, and keeping the files for the year for each child.

    • ldecesare says:

      It’s true there is a timeliness factor here – which is why I tap the kids memories! But once you get yourself into a system of photographing, uploading and filing – it does get less cumbersome and daunting! Let me know how it goes! Good “New School Year” Resolution!

  2. This is such a cool idea! I punch holes in my kids’ art and put them in 3 ring binders, but I may have to adopt your system!

    • ldecesare says:

      Binders are better than my previous system of a Rubbermaid tub for each kid! But I have to say, I really have loved the photo books. Even though it takes a bit of time to create the book, I do enjoy doing it and seeing the year in review!

  3. Love Love your ideas! I thought you might find this article (and app) interesting too: “…they’ll be adding a print service, similar to cafepress.com, allowing you to order your children’s masterpieces printed onto mugs, mousepads (anyone still need one of those?), T-shirts and, most importantly, books…” :0)

    http://www.wired.com/geekdad/?s=Artkive

    • ldecesare says:

      Thanks for sharing this, HeatherGail! I feel like I straddle the paper vs. electronic in many areas of my life – I love the ease of technology (usually) but also love having the printed out hard copy. This Artkive app is very cool and could be the perfect solution for so many people!

  4. […] love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by […]

  5. […] love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by […]

  6. […] love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by […]

  7. […] love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by […]

  8. Great idea! I’m terrible about just tossing artwork but my kids are constantly drawing so the shear volume of work is overwhelming.

    • Leah DeCesare says:

      I know – my kids love to create and draw I LOVE this solution. It’s one of those ideas I’d seen and actually did! So happy that I did!

  9. […] love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by […]

  10. […] love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by […]

  11. Leah DeCesare says:

    When I installed Disqus, my original comments became hidden, here is one with another good resource:

    ldecesare
    Submitted on 2012/08/28 at 11:01 pm | In reply to HeatherGail.

    Thanks for sharing this, HeatherGail! I feel like I straddle the paper vs.
    electronic in many areas of my life – I love the ease of technology
    (usually) but also love having the printed out hard copy. This Artkive
    app is very cool and could be the perfect solution for so many people!

    HeatherGail
    BringingHomeBaby.net
    Submitted on 2012/08/28 at 10:45 pm

    Love Love your ideas! I thought you might find this article (and app)
    interesting too: “…they’ll be adding a print service, similar to
    cafepress.com, allowing you to order your children’s masterpieces
    printed onto mugs, mousepads (anyone still need one of those?), T-shirts
    and, most importantly, books…” :0)
    http://www.wired.com/geekdad/?s=Artkive

  12. […] As I’m sure so many people do, we have the tradition of taking pictures on the first day of school. The images mark their moves through the grades and even offer proof of unrecognized growth from September to June. I love family record-keeping projects like photo books to highlight the year’s events and kids art photo books. […]

  13. […] been exceptionally responsive when I’ve had any questions. There are other options out there (iPhoto, Tiny Prints, Snapfish, Mixbook, Lulu) for you to […]

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