There are few artists more prolific that a child in grade school. Frankly, any professional painter or sculptor may only dream of creating as much work as your little one. While their creative process is a beautiful, positive thing that you encourage, you may be wondering what the flip to do with all your kid’s artwork when your kitchen table becomes a sea of papier-mâché and glued-on pom-poms.
“When children do art, they value it,” said Julie Lause, co-founder and Chief of Schools at Crescent City Schools in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a parenting content creator at The Bossy House. “But they generate so much of it that you need a way to store it or display it — even just for a short time — so that it gets its deference that it is due, but that you also have a way to manage it.”
As a former school principal and a parent, Lause knows firsthand the amount of artwork kiddos bring home. And while she’s all about celebrating achievements and encouraging your little one to express themselves through art (or any sort of project), she’s also realistic about how their masterpieces will fit into your lifestyle: “[It’s about] integrating the art into your house in a way that’s attractive,” she said.
To help you manage the vast inventory of masterpieces your little one brings home, Lause and other parents and caregivers shared tips for storing, displaying and overall managing all your kid’s art.
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Hang clipboards on the wall
, co-founder and Chief of Schools at Crescent City Schools
in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a parenting content creator at The Bossy House
, is known for her "command center
," the area by the front door of her home that's designated for organization
, emptying backpacks and displaying important things from school like permission forms or gorgeous pieces of art.
Lause teaches online courses helping families create their own command centers, and her quick tip for managing kids' art? Get some clipboards to hang right on the wall, low enough that your little one can reach it and hang their work themselves.
"The foundation of the system is it comes out of the kids' backpack and it goes on a clipboard," Lause said.
Set up a storage cycle
Lause recommends keeping a healthy pile of manilla envelopes close to the clipboards. "There's a three-part system," she said. "Immediate display, short-term storage and then long-term storage."
After giving the art its proper attention and display time on the clipboard, Lause said, it's easy to move on to the next steps.
"Someday when [your kid] is not looking, you take the pieces you really want and throw 'em in that manila folder and then throw the rest away," she said. "When the manila folder gets full, you put it in some box in the basement that you're saving for their wedding or something. I have another memo folder called 'Grandma.' A lot of stuff gets sent to Grandma."
Embrace the front-open frame
Of course, if you are a strict "everything needs a frame" person, you'll love these user-friendly frames that open from the front while they're on your wall. Both Lause and HuffPost editor Kristen Aiken recommend these frames for an elevated look.
"I'm not a 'stick it on the fridge' type of person — I need things to look nice, [and] I found these incredible frames that open up like a book — while they're on your wall!" Aiken said. "You can slide new artwork in and out as you please. And my nephew is so proud every time he visits and sees that I took the time to frame his work!"
Make a gallery wall with cheap frames
To keep your framing situation on a budget, Lause also recommended doing a gallery wall of multiple frames in formation.
"Four [frames] across and three down. So it's like 12 picture frames that are just in a grid," Lause said. "It looks attractive and it's just all the kids' art. And you can switch it out."
This set of a dozen frames at Amazon come in 11 by 14 inches.
Display things via magnets
HuffPost Facebook follower Deanna Perry also uses a sort of display-then-store cycle, saying her metal back door made for the perfect instant display space thanks to magnets. If you don't have a magnetic door (or if your fridge is getting full), consider using magnetic paint to turn any wall in your home or apartment into a magnetic surface that can easily display pieces right from your child's book bag.
Keep an accordion folder in the basement
After displaying artwork on the magnet wall, Perry says she takes a picture of every piece, but dates and stores her favorites and organizes them in separate accordion folders for each kid. They each have a folder containing school photos, artwork and schoolwork for every school year.
Tape them right to the wall without damage
Facebook user Kaite Fryer
joked that during quarantine, her family simply covered their walls in their kid's art, using painter's tape to stick pieces directly to the wall without running the surface. If you like a more rustic look, using painter's tape is a cheap and easy way to display art, especially in a child's room or play room.
Maximize the play area
Sara Bondioli, a supervising copy editor at HuffPost, said her family uses removable mounting squares to quickly and cheaply display huge amounts of their kids' art in their play areas without needing frames. The kids can see their own work, and they can instantly display something without needing to fuss over installation.
Send your favorite pieces to Artkive
Though she hasn't gotten to use it herself, HuffPost's head of audience Abigail Williams said that as a toddler mom, she's seen TikToks about Artkive, a company that turns multiple pieces of little ones' art into framed mosaics or art books.
Bondioli said that someone gifted her family a mosaic print made from pieces of her kids' art, and she loves looking at it in her home.
Get a bulletin board for your house that can grow with your kiddo
As your little one gets older, Lause said, they'll likely start being proud of tests or school work, instead of just their art. She recommends keeping some sort of bulletin board that you can use for art but then transition into a space where you can display academic achievements, certificates and other sorts of triumphs your child brings home.
"My kid's nine and now she has less artwork, but she has more tests that she's proud of, but it's just the same system," Lause said. "She's always put her work that she's proud of on that bulletin board. That's kind of cool as they grow up, to realize that it's not always gonna be finger painting, sometimes it's gonna be algebra."