Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How To Store Your Kid's Artwork

One of the things that creates towering piles in our home is Eden’s prolific artwork.  She loves to color, paint, make cards, stamp, and write.  Each piece is a treasure to her and she loves to have them displayed around the house.  Her latest art gallery is her room, where she scotch tapes her pictures to the walls.  

peanut butter and honey and jelly sandwich in the middle
flanked by flowers and sea

I’m pretty good about rotating the art displayed on the fridge, but I have a hard time throwing away her artwork.  I usually let it pile up for about 3 months, and then sort through it.  Once the pile is 2 feet tall, I have an easier time choosing my favorites and her favorites and letting the rest go.  I like to keep the pieces that she did completely herself and were not directed by me or anyone else.  This allows me to easily throw away the thousands upon thousands of “craft projects” that we do at home and that she brings home from Sunday School, preschool, the library, and on and on and on. 

But I’ve regretted getting rid of some in the past.  For a long time I kept her first coloring book from the days when Elmo was her favorite friend, even though it showcased more of Kasey and my coloring abilities than Eden’s.  But she had a habit of taking one color crayon and flipping through the entire book, coloring one or two tiny things on each page that color.  I thought that was adorable.  But as I looked through it when she was 3, it was getting harder and harder for me to remember which coloring was hers and which was her parents’.  So I threw it away.  And regretted it the next time I sorted artwork. 

And then yesterday inspiration struck.  Eden had unpacked her backpack from preschool and spread her artwork all over the floor, and was excitedly telling me all about the pieces, what they were, how she created them, what she liked about them.  I thought to myself, “if only I could capture this excitement about her creations, her explanations of what these are.  I’ll never be able to remember when she’s 20 that this particular picture is a flamingo next to the flames of the rocketship he’s about to blast off on.” 

flamingo, flames, rocketship with person inside

And then I thought, VIDEO!!!  I’ll capture not only several pieces of artwork in one shot, but also her voice, her excitement, and her proud explanations.  

I found that her excitement and talkativeness is at its peak the first or second time she talks about her pieces.  I’m trying to learn to ask open-ended questions about her art (how? and why? and what? questions) and be descriptive instead of prescriptive (“I see you used a lot of red” instead of “it’s so beautiful!”).  All the smart people say that doing this results in a child retaining their sense of enjoyment in the process and creating for themselves rather than to please their audience (parents).  I’m not quite there yet, which is why you’ll hear me saying, “that’s so interesting!” in the video.  I’m trying to avoid being prescriptive but I come off as bland and unimpressed.  Don’t worry, I’m practicing.

I’m excited to have found a way to save more of her artwork without having to make more physical space for it in our house.  I think it’ll be so fun to look back on these videos later and see her growing along with her artistry. 

How about you?  What tips do you have for storing kid’s artwork?  


NDmomma said...

I take photos with an initial magnet in the corner. Then I toss the piles in the trash, guilt free! I know someone who can turn the photos into a charm bracelet :)

Jamie said...

Great idea with the initial magnet! What a cool idea to turn it into a charm bracelet!