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Spring Clean Out: Organizing and Storing Kids' Art

Liana Kyle/Flickr


Clearing your house of child-created art can be tough, mired in parental sentimentalities and child ownership. What do you do with the 50-part study in fire trucks that your child finger-painted at age 3? Or the amazing diorama he spent hours crafting, but that now is collecting dust?

At some point, you have to say good-bye to most of these things, and often it's not easy. Setting up a few systems to regulate what stays in the house can help you and your children build shared expectations about which creations become part of your home's permanent collection.


Designate a gallery space in your house. When something new needs to be displayed, something old must be retired. Have your children evaluate each piece's "gallery potential." Their process will help you discern which pieces are something they are really proud of, and which ones you might not need to worry about.


Choose a quantity of art you are willing to save yearly. An accordion folder? A portfolio? A small box? Place the pieces you want to save in it as they come. When the box is full, you will have to decide to stop putting new masterpieces in, or to replace older works with newer ones.


Take photographs of art and make them into a book. At the end of the year, you will have a beautiful keepsake, but no actual art for which to find a home.


Repurpose art whenever you can. Have a million clay coil pots? Use them in your garden. Convert drawings into thank-you cards. Mail some fun pieces of art to family and friends whose refrigerators might need a splash of color. Large paintings make great wrapping paper. Seasonally-themed art can be stored away with the holiday decorations and enjoyed again in future years.


Recycle. At the end of it all, strip off the non-recyclable bits (beads, sequins, gems) and toss the paper-based art into the recycling. Clay, fabric and paper covered in dry macaroni are compostable.


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