When I wrote about designing your home to encourage learning, I talked about how important it is that we treasure our children’s work and display it proudly! With the mountain of artwork and school papers that come through our doors, though, this can be overwhelming. And figuring out how to display the work stylishly? Even more tricky. Here are a few of my favorite ideas for displaying and storing your children’s work.
Photo Books of School Work
Artkive – This is my favorite can’t-live-without app for families. About once a week I stand at my kitchen counter with a stack of my children’s school and artwork. I open up the Artkive app, take a picture of each piece of art, type a quick name for each one, and then decide what to do with the physical piece from there. Most of it goes into the trash can. (Gasp! I know… just remember it is saved on my phone!) Some of it is displayed in our home somehow, and some is placed in a file of our children’s most treasured pieces. I involve my children in this decision!
At the end of the school year I sit down and spend about a half hour going through all of my children’s work on Artkive from the year. I crop the pieces, alter names and dates as necessary, and order a hardcover book of all of their art from the year! This is always a family favorite book to flip through and I know will be treasured for years to come. The quality is fantastic. When you place the book on your coffee table, you are stylishly displaying an entire year’s worth of your child’s work. I think that would make any kid smile.
If you want to customize your child’s book a little more, and are up for a little more of a project, I love this book of school projects from Susana's Zig & Zag Blog. She scanned all of her children’s work, creating a book similar to the one that I create every year.
Displaying art & schoolwork in our home
Displaying our kids’ artwork gives our kids purpose when creating pieces and shows that we value their work. I know that my kids feel an immense amount of pride when they see their work displayed in our home, and I know that this pride is motivational.
All of that being said, I need our kids’ art to be displayed tastefully and stylishly. I have my kids choose a couple of their favorite pieces to display at a time so that they are truly highlighted. If we display everything that comes through the door, nothing is truly being showcased as extra special.
I love these 3 frames that I found at Pottery Barn because they have a slot on the side that allows for art to be easily changed. They no longer carry this exact frame, but here is something very similar.
We used this tutorial from New Home Economics to make this shelf/art display in my older son’s room. I love that it gives my son the space to display things that he loves (hence the enormous black REPTILES poster), but in an organized, controlled way so that it does not take over his room! His very favorite creations generally end up here because he loves being able to have access to them, take them down and admire them. (Generally after we have put him to bed and are asking him to sleep. But that’s another story…)
If you have the wall space, I love Kimba's art wall. Find more details here on A Soft Place to Land.
These DIY Photo Clipboards from Love Grows Wild would be perfect for kids school work! I love that it is totally customizable - you could paint or stain to accommodate your child's decor. You can't get much easier in terms of being able to swap pieces in and out either!
These bulletin boards from Simply Organized are simple yet stylish. Again, they allow artwork to be swapped out very easily. I also love that they can accommodate artwork of any size. (Something that sometimes frustrates me about our picture frames!)
Jen at A Thousand Words created a collage of her boys' artwork. I love that this allows you to display many pieces of art in a clean, stylish way.
Long-term storage of your child's most treasured pieces
Over the course of the year, I keep a small stack of work that we will keep actual physical copies of. I aim for around 10-ish pieces. A sample of work from the beginning of the year, the end of the year, and then just the most memorable or cherished pieces.
One big thing on my to-do list is to make one of these file boxes for each of my children. I love Jen’s idea (from IHeartOrganizing) of making a file box for each of my children that contains the most important paperwork from their school career. Inside the file box she has a hanging folder for each year of school. I adore the cover sheet in each file with the child’s school picture.
In terms of artwork (a sculpture, clay handprint, etc.) that is too big to fit in the file box, each of my children has their own set of boxes from the Container Store. My oldest son has green boxes and my youngest has orange. Inside each box are all of the larger memory items I’ve decided to keep for them: favorite outfits or baby shoes, cards, event tickets, favorite books and small toys, preschool artwork that is too big for the file box and handprints. Originally I was keeping a box for each year of their life. Then I pictured my adult children moving out of our house, begrudgingly carrying a stack of 20 boxes, and I decided to pare down my approach a little bit. Now they have 5 boxes, one each for: my pregnancy with them, the first year, Toddlerhood (1-3 years old), Preschool and finally Elementary School. In a few years I will add Middle School and High School boxes.
How do you manage all of your children's art and school work? Any favorite display ideas? I'm looking forward to hearing them!