As soon as your children begin school, the constant stream of freshly pasted and painted projects begin to come home. At first, you want to keep everything. The way that your little beams with pride when they see their creations displayed on the fridge is worth the extra clutter.
Luckily technology affords us some new and creative ways to commemorate these treasures without having to store boxes full of childhood arts and crafts projects.
Make your own Yearbooks
Capture every project, memory, and noteworthy moment of the year by making your own yearbooks with a service like Mixbook and Shutterfly. No special skills are necessary. Smartphone cameras and photo-editing apps make taking book-quality photos easy for anyone.
As the prominent display area fills up, set aside a block of time to photograph the pieces. Once they are photographed and recorded you can safely discard more common pieces and move the most important pieces to a special keepsakes box.
How to Take Good Photos
Borrow a trick from the bloggers to get good photos of your children’s artwork with a white poster board and natural light. White poster board makes an excellent background because most elementary school artwork is full of plenty of colors.
Collect Momentos Throughout the Year
The yearbook can be more than just a keepsake of your child's artwork. Use it to capture all of the important memories. Everyday pictures from your camera roll can be touched up with the Adobe Photoshop app.
Use index cards to jot down captions, anecdotes and other tidbits to include in your yearbook. Remember to take a picture of your child’s Christmas list or letters that they have written that would make a sweet memory. Obviously be careful about including anything that might make your child embarrassed or self-conscious.
Although it may feel like every piece of art your child brings home is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, you can safely discard most of it. There will be a few special projects here and there that are worth keeping for the long haul.
Purchase a clear Sterilite tote with a latching lid. Use vinyl decals to personalize and decorate the tote. Aim for one to three pieces of artwork or keepsakes per school year. Each year, review and edit the contents of the keepsake tote to make sure that you are only storing those very special, timeless tokens of childhood.
Create a Screensaver from your Child’s Artwork
Digitizing your child’s artwork seems like the best solution to keep the memory of the masterpieces alive while eliminating the clutter. There is no great solution for physically storing twelve years of classroom projects and artwork. Every piece is unique in size, shape, and dimension.
If creating a yearbook of your child’s artwork is too involved for your taste, there are a few more simple ideas that will still allow you to digitize and enjoy the memories of those beautiful pieces. Continue to display new pieces in a special place and as you rotate them out with new pieces, safely store all artwork in a file box until the end of the year.
At the end of the school year, set aside an afternoon to snap some good photos with your smartphone or digital camera. Use a plain white or plain black poster board to provide a solid color background. Position the art piece so that it is receiving plenty of natural light and snap away.
Create a photo slideshow to use a screensaver on a computer monitor or television. You can back up your photos onto cloud storage for safekeeping and keep a copy on your local devices.
Ah, artwork, the joy that keeps on giving. ;) Here's a great (and actually doable) system for stress-free management of your kids' art and keepsakes!! Watch the video.
Create a Gallery Wall
If you have an empty wall in a hallway or up a staircase, you have the perfect opportunity to create a gallery wall to showcase your child’s artwork. You can pick out the best pieces and frame the originals for your gallery wall.
For dimensional pieces that are hard to frame, or mid-level projects that are plentiful, but still nice you can snap a picture. Choose to either frame the picture, create a grid of several pictures to frame, or have mini pictures printed in 4in x 4in squares.
Create an Instagram Account for Your Child’s Artwork
If you are not sure if prints or books make sense for you right now -- but you are still captivated by the idea of capturing digital versions of your child’s special projects, then an Instagram account may be a good intermediate solution. You can always go back later and get prints.
The K-12 years encompass the meat and bones of a childhood. There are too many memories made to just stuff them away in boxes. Thankfully technology affords us a buffet of choices to store and enjoy those memories. If you still prefer to hold on to the originals, a keepsake box is a good solution to store some of the most important pieces. But for the vast majority of the projects that come home -- a digital solution is a great choice.