Last fall, my son entered a child care center for the first time. Shortly after his arrival he began to flood our house with mini masterpieces displaying his school’s creative learning themes. While I enjoy his enthusiastic artistic commentary and I adore the way he has redecorated our refrigerator, there is only so much space for these treasures in our home. How much can one poor refrigerator bear? Unfortunately, I undoubtedly (and inconspicuously as possible) retire them the recycling bin. I’m sure you too have wondered, what do I do with all the artwork? Here are five creative and practical ways to display, reuse and re-gift your child’s masterpieces without the guilt of using the garbage can.
1. A picture is worth a thousand words… and is much easier to keep than that lovely painted flour paste mold of a randomly assigned landform created for social studies class. Instead of storing that treasure, I take a picture of my child standing with it. Better yet, include the teacher by asking him or her to write a brief description of the project and a memory of your child as they worked on it in class. I keep the picture and description in a scrapbook , but you could also put it in a memory folder or even glue it into your child’s yearbook at the end of the year. Memory made and kept without utilizing anymore space that your SD card or computer hard drive.
2. Speaking of scrapbooking, my favorite way to keep artwork is to use the it as a background page. My son recently came home with a blizzard painted with white on blue paper, embellished with a teacher drawn eyes, buttons and carrot nose. I think it would be fun to glue a picture of him making a real snowman next to or on top of to this piece of art he created. Two memories in one, done.
3. Create a display board in another room of your house like a play room or maybe even your child’s bedroom. Use a framed bulletin board or something as simple as thick twine with close pins to display the art. As the new projects come in, the old ones can be cycled out. Let your child be the one to decide which ones have value and they would like to keep. No tears here as Mr. Mittens with googley eyes meets the trash can, because your four year old just made that choice, not you. Consider it an early course in art appreciation.
4. You can always spread the wealth. Decorate someone else’s refrigerator every once and a while. On the Fridays that we pick up our boys and travel directly to grandma and grandpa’s, chances are pretty likely that today’s art project will be a special gift to grandma and grandpa. It is fun for your child to share their school day with another adult and a great reminder of those little smiling faces long after you leave. If they can’t see your children every day, why not give them the opportunity to see their art and then think of them? It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. This gift comes with a no-refund policy, so I also quietly communicate to gram and gramps that we believe in the recycle bin if they need to make room on the refrigerator.
5. Another possibility is to keep everything the entire school year (just wait, I’m not crazy… keep reading). Store the work in a plastic tub and then at the end of the year pull it all out. Allow both you and your child to each choose 5 items you would like to keep. Store these in a child’s memory box, three ring binder with plastic sleeves or scrapbook. Ten a year is more manageable than ten a month. Because your selection is from the entire year, it ensures you are keeping your favorites and the best of the best.
When all is said and done, any of these options (or even a combination of them) will help you preserve your child’s art and educational history while still maintaining a clutter free refrigerator (and house in general). So, stash away those worries, can the guilt and celebrate your little Picasso and all their painted, cotton ball, popsicle stick, foam shape, glitter covered glory.
Photo Credit: Yahoo Photo Library; Photo by Lyn Lomasi
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