As we start the new school year, how will you manage organizing kid’s artwork 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 artwork and then assemble a book of the pictures. I’ve only done this for the last four 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.
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 directly
on Shutterfly (makes me happy that no matter what happens on my laptop, it’s safe out there in cyberspace.)
The first year I used this method for organizing kid’s artwork, 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. And we enjoy looking at them far more often!
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.