What to Do with Kids’ Artwork (*Besides Trash It When They’re Not Looking)

If I had a dollar for each time I heard my friends complain about the AMOUNT of artwork their kids have created, I’d be very rich indeed. Well, maybe rich enough to buy a large cup of coffee at Starbucks!

Mari and Markers for Reverie of a Picture Book: What to do with Kids' Art (besides throw it away!)

What do you DO with all of your kids’ artwork?

My mom saved a whole bunch. Here is a tiny clipping from an envelope I drew on as a kid. The drawing is entitled, “My Little Brother”.

My Little Brother Drawing by Young Sarah for Reverie of a Picture Book: What to Do with Kids' Art (besides throw it away!)

This portrait of my little brother is only abput 2.5″ by 1″,, drawn on the back of an envelope.

I can only hope to be as fastidious and organized as my mom was in keeping the artwork of children. Not only did she organize, date and keep artwork for three of her own children, to give back to them once they were grown, but she did the same for some special neighbor kids and great-nieces! (I’m so glad! These scribbled “masterpieces” mean so much to all of us!)

Here’s a couple tried and true solutions  she suggests for organizing and reusing kids’ artwork.

I have a feeling I'm gonna need a bigger box.

I have a feeling I’m gonna need a bigger box.

The Box Solution

  1. Put your child’s name, the date and their age on the back of the piece of art. It’s amazing how quickly that info can be forgotten, especially if you have a budding artist who makes LOTS of art.
  2. Put each piece of art in a Rubbermaid-type box labeled especially for each individual child. (Pick the size of the box depending upon the number of art pieces your child creates. Remember, however, to think of the span of their childhood, art projects from school, and from Nana’s house as well—I’m saying, Pick a Big Box!)
  3. When the child turns 18-years-old and/or graduates from high school, it is time for the box to become a gift From You to Your Child. The box may immediately get returned to your attic or basement, but you know who gets it again as a housewarming gift when they have their own storage space. (As my mother has found, The Box Solution for your child’s artwork also works for grandparents, relatives, and kind, creative neighbors who let kids create at their homes.)

Scribbles and Scrawlings—The Envelope Craft

Here’s a simple craft that doubles as a way for children to thank their grandparents and others for gifts. The video is the adult-friendly (mass artwork from your child) demo.

Adult-friendly Simple Craft for LOTS of Your Child’s Paper Drawings

Materials Needed: 1 thank-you card; 1 envelope that fits the thank-you card; a letter opener; pencil; heavy duty kitchen-quality scissor; a pile of your child’s paper artworks; blank sticky address labels, or clear tape to write addresses; marker or pen for addresses.

  1. Using the letter opener, carefully undo the seams of the envelope.
  2. Trace the opened envelope on the top sheet of the pile of artwork.
  3. Cut the pile of art, using the top traced pattern.
  4. Take one of your new “envelopes” and fold it accordingly for your child’s thank-you note. Do the same, when the time comes for other thank you notes. (Keep these on file, or wherever you keep your thank-you notes and stamps.)

A Child-friendly Version of Homemade Envelopes

(copy and paste this as needed)

Materials Needed: 1 thank-you card; 1 envelope that fits the thank-you card; a plastic picnic knife; pencil; safety scissor; 1 piece paper artwork; a sticky address label or clear tape.

  1. Using the plastic knife, carefully undo the envelope. You may need help from an adult for this. You want to pull the paper away from any glued areas.
  2. Take the “opened” envelope and trace it on your sheet of art. HINT: Try to get the envelope to cover any art that you want to people to see.
  3. Following the line you have just drawn, cut with your safety scissor.
  4. This is the hardest step. FOLD your new envelope the way that your patterned “open” envelope was folded. HINT: Put your thank you note on your new ART envelope in order to fold it correctly.
  5. Write in the thank you note for a gift you have received.
  6. Use an address label to make the envelope stick together, with your written thank-you note inside. Otherwise, clear tape works well too!
  7. Address the label and put a stamp on it. Don’t forget your return address. Then you get to put it in the mail!

 NOTE: Based on investigation and personal experience, I have found that the US Postal Service accepts these homemade envelopes for mailing as long as they are the size of existing envelopes. The stamp cannot be covered with tape or anything else. The addresses must be clearly labeled.

What does this have to do with picture books? This started out as a list of art books for children, but the craft “took over”. Next time, maybe!

2 thoughts on “What to Do with Kids’ Artwork (*Besides Trash It When They’re Not Looking)

  1. Pingback: What To Do With All Those Excess Children’s Books | Reverie of a Picture Book

  2. I love this! Though I don’t think there are enough rubbermaid boxes in the world to hold my daughter’s art, I will definitely try out your envelope idea. Thanks for the great idea & video! You are the next Martha Stewart for all-things kids!!

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