©iStockphoto.com Image by: ©iStockphoto.com
As a blogger and mom of three small boys, I feel that letting children create is an important first step in learning, building confidence and exploring creativity. And many moms agree.
"I like to see my son grow, and looking at his artwork is a great way to see that happening," says Valerie Melzer, a blogger and stay-at-home mom from Chateauguay, Quebec.
Artwork storage solutions
Most children create large amounts of artwork, and it is up to each parent to decide what should be stored, what should be displayed and what should be thrown out. Regardless of where the masterpieces end up, the most important thing is to continue encouraging your children to craft.
"Children need to be given an opportunity to express themselves in ways which allow them to create, thrive and imagine at full capacity," says Mallery Williams, an elementary school teacher from Sydney, N.S.
It isn't hard to see why parents are sentimental when it comes to their children's artwork, but when it starts piling up, it can become overwhelming. It's a classic parenting dilemma: "What do I do with all the masterpieces my little ones create?" Here are a few suggestions:
1. Throw it out
I know this sounds harsh, but you can't keep everything. Consider this: If a child averages just three pieces of artwork a week (starting at age three), by the time that child is nine, he or she will have amassed over 1,000 works of art. Multiply that by the number of children living in your house and you'll see why it's necessary to be tough.
Hang each new piece of artwork in a place of honour for a few days and then decide if it is a special piece that you want to keep or if it should it go in the recycling bin to make way for new creations.
2. Create a gallery
Little ones love to see their artwork on display, so design a "made by me" gallery of their artwork. Frame special pieces to hang on the walls of their rooms or create a gallery of multiple frames in their playroom. You can use frames, decorated clipboards or even yarn or twine lines with clothespins. This will allow you to switch out artwork as your kids craft new favourites.
3. Create a filing system
I have one accordion-style file box for each of my boys, and the sections are labelled by year. Each piece of artwork we want to save is dated and put in the proper folder. It is a neat and organized way to preserve and archive the special pieces.
4. File electronically
Scan or photograph your kids' artwork and throw out the originals. Electronic files take up a lot less space.
"Before I throw out anything special, I take photos of it to keep a record," says Jane (who prefers not to give her last name), a Canadian blogger, teacher and mother of two currently living in Budapest, Hungary. "My plan is to use the photos to build scrapbooks of their artwork that show their development throughout their childhoods," she says.
5. Send to friends and family
Everyone loves to get mail, so why not share some special pieces with friends and family members who are far away? What grandmother wouldn't love to receive a special drawing or painting from her grandchild?
6. Use the fridge
The fridge is a great old-fashioned way to proudly display artwork where everyone can see it. To keep things under control, get some super-cute magnets and purge regularly.
7. Make something new
Turning artwork into something practical and fun, like personalized place mats, will make everyone smile. Scan multiple pieces of artwork and use a free and easy to use software program like PicMonkey to create a collage. Then you can use self-laminating sheets from the dollar store or (for a fancier version) get the collages printed and laminated at an office supply store.
So what are you waiting for? Get out those art supplies and let your little Picassos create some masterpieces.
Gina Bell (a.k.a. East Coast Mommy) lives in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, with her husband, toddler, preschooler and elementary school–aged son. She loves to share her experiences as a stay-at-home-mom of three. Her blog provides ideas and tutorials for crafts, parties, children's activities, staying organized and more.