Beyond the Fridge: Managing Your Child's Art Projects Before They Take Over the House

Amy Rees
November 17, 2016

We love preschools that allow our children to do interesting, inspired art projects. We love seeing the work of our little artists. We also wonder what on earth to do with all the stuff that comes dashing in the door every single school day. We admit it, we are drowning.

Looking for some great ideas for how to appreciate the work, display it, delight in it, store it, and (as necessary) dispose of it? Look no further.

Make an art wall, but this time in your child's room in addition to the one on the fridge. Your child's art in your child's room is the preschool equivalent of a one-man show. Pop the bubbly; we've got a gallery opening here! 

Manage the work, whether on the fridge or the art wall or wherever. One painting goes up, another cherished work goes away. One in, one out. Just like financial accounting rules or best practices when it comes to buying shoes. Ruthless management is sometimes the only way to go.

Get an empty box or oversized portfolio and label it with your child's name and the school year or age. The keepers go in there. If there is too much to fit, some decisions need to be made. When you are done, you'll have a nice tidy set of boxes for your child(ren), already organized by year from preschool on up. 

Assemble an art collage out of cuttings from numerous paintings and drawings and paper works. Glue together and frame, and presto, you've got her first retrospective.

Take pictures of the works as they come in, and then you'll always have a digital record of the wonders, even when reasons of space and practicality dictated tossing a big stack. And from those pictures, make a gorgeous book from Blurb or ArtKive and cherish it on a shelf forever.

Looking for a good way to identify a keeper? One that shows the child's size (with a handprint, perhaps) or a new skill (his first titled work, her first signed work, the first tadpole figure, the first family).

Use flat works of art as wrapping paper for gifts. 

Get a clear plastic table cloth for your kitchen table and put drawings and paintings underneath. Rotate as necessary.

Take a painting or drawing to a local copy shop and laminate it as a placemat for the dinner table (or as a gift for grandparents or aunties)

Then toss the rest, without guilt. You delight in the works as they are made. You diligently a subset of whatever size and amount makes you happy in your home. And then the rest goes away. It's okay. It is good practice for the years and years worth of school work and spelling tests and cursive exercises and book reports that are headed your way.

This article was originally published in May 2008. 

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    We've been using my daughter's paintings as wrapping paper for a while now. She loves giving presents wrapped in her art, and the recipients are always excited about it. And we hardly ever buy wrapping paper any more.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 2

    We bought a plastic file drawer for each child and all work that might be a keeper goes in it. It usually doesn't fill up until the end of the school year when you can go through and pick your very favorites to keep forever.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 3

    My daughter's preschool teacher had a "pizza night" theme and used clean, donated pizza boxes to gather some of the art she's produced since the last parent/teacher conference. It's big enough for some of the larger pieces, and I think a great way to sift and store several months worth of artwork. The teacher personalized each box with a picture and handprints. It's the best pizza I've ever had!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 4

    I love these ideas. Playing off of the digital photo idea...print the artwork onto cardstock and fold it into cards. Use them as thank-you cards from your child when he/she receives gifts or sends new pictures of himself to grandma. They are his own personal stationery!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 5

    Great ideas! We bought a metal wire and clips from Ikea (meant for hanging curtains) and stretched it across a wall in the loft. The kids can clip their own artwork to it, and rotate it whenever they want. We also scan a lot of their projects in, and I use them in digital scrapbook layouts. :) Leigh

    over a year ago

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