When the school year ended a month or so ago, my kids brought home their “portfolio,” a collection of the masterpieces created over the course of the year. It was empowering to see the progress made and have the girls explain in their own sweet words what they were thinking as they were creating. “I choose blue because….” or “Do you like the girl’s bow, mom?” Endearing and sweet it was, but it also created more clutter. I know, that sounds terrible. I don’t mean to imply that kid art has no purpose or is destined for the recycling bin, but well…I didn’t have a place for these newly minted masterpieces. Aggghhh…disorder! What to do?!
First, I displayed all of the art work in my laundry room. That meant the jack-o-lantern painted a bright orange and the waddling penguin done in January…all out-of-season kites, shamrocks, and bunnies, too went on the doors in the laundry room. The room that serves as the mud room and the wash-your-clothes room (which I’ve always felt sort of ironic) was also serving as “art gallery.” Kate relished in having her work displayed for all to see. You may think the laundry room as an insulting place, but really it’s the door we use most. I can’t even recall when we went in or out of the front door. So, in our house the laundry room was a place of honor.
After about 3 weeks of the portfolio’s contecnts hanging in our laundry room, the tape started to lose it’s stickiness and things started to slide down. I sorted through all pieces of construction papper, googly eyes, and feathers to find my absolute favorites. They went into pile #1: frame. The next pile was “cute, worth saving,” and the third and final pile, “What the heck?! Recycle.” (of course, the kids didn’t know what my piles signified).
I ran out to buy some simple frames–cheap and black (white wood also works well). My favorite pieces of art were trimmed down accordingly and placed in frames. The girls lit up when they saw their art hanging in my office. If you are hesitant to think construction paper and tissue looks any better under glass, then I urge you to try it. It really looks good.
As for holiday-themed art, I frame it and store it away in appropriately marked Rubbermaid totes, “4th of July” and “Valentines” or whatever and pull them out when the times comes. It’s fun to see the girl’s art from year’s past and it makes for a cute and simple holiday decoration. I have even framed some of their things for their bedooms. You can, too! Try doing it for Papa’s Birthday gift or your sister’s office. It’s a one-of-a-kind gift they are sure to appreciate. Another idea: make color copies of a small piece of art (or multiple pieces and make into a collage), cut it out and attach to a plain notecard…think: invitations, thank-you cards, or just a “hello” note.
The “cute, worth saving pile” was just that. I labeled each piece of art with the appropriate kids’ name, age, and approximate date it was created. I saved them in….drumroll…more Rubbermaid totes!! These totes are in their closets and marked, “Kelly, age 3-4 years, Jan 2010-Jan 2011.” Someday if I’m really a sad empty-nester I might make them into giant scrapbooks. Or not. But at least we have them.
And yes, some things did make it to the recycling bin. But I know they will have more creativity in the years to come.