Do you get a stack of artwork mixed with coloring pages and worksheets day after day? I do! In the digital age we are still inundated with paper from school every. single. day.
The end of the school year marked the successful completion of Kindergarten for Will and Preschool for Lauren. It also came with an unexpected mountain of paper and artwork from school, and if I have a mountain, where have the teachers stored this avalanche all year long? This year, there was enough artwork to fill the dining room table. I'm not going to lie, I took the whole pile and stuffed it in a paper bag until I could wrap my brain around where it was going. BUT, it doesn't have to be this way!
This year, there was enough artwork to fill the dining room table.
In general, I try to live a pretty paperless life. There was a point where I was stockpiling every electric bill ever received, but I've come a long way. I do my best to recycle the junk mail before it hits a counter top. The school paperwork get reviewed daily. If there are important dates, I add them to our family calendar. I typically don't hang onto coloring pages or worksheets, unless there is a standout, which makes it to the fridge for a couple of weeks. Everything else gets thrown away.
But how do you decide what to do with the artwork? The construction paper? The hand print art? The bubble painted goodness? Here are a few ways to clear the clutter, find the most valuable pieces, and put them to good use rather than shoving them in a box or leaving them in the pile on the counter (or paper bag)!
Find your favorites:
1. Decide on how many you will keep, my number is ten- My kids typically have a portfolio of bound artwork, awards, and academic milestones from school- usually all my favorite pieces. I have an artwork gallery in the hallway that holds six pieces; and the rest can be given as gifts!
2. You can do a quick sort and throw away anything that is irreparably torn or wrinkled.
3. Toss the coloring pages and one off worksheets.
4. Find the duplicates or like items, and set aside your favorite one
5. Try to narrow to your number to 10 based on categories- hand print art, splatter paint, self portraits, originals,etc.
6. Once you have 10 pieces (or the reasonable number of choice), pitch the rest. Yes! I said it! You're going to pick up the pile and throw it in the recycling bin. You don't need to sleep on it, just chuck it. NOTE: you may want to make sure your kids are outside when you make that move, maybe make sure the evidence is hidden.
Will hand drew this alien picture in art class this year. He was so proud of his work, and yes the alien has his middle finger in his nose, but have no fear, Will doesn't really know what that means. This alien piece was featured in the art show at his school, and I knew when I saw it that it would surely land in our hallway art gallery.
Making an art gallery in your home is an easy, personal and inexpensive way to decorate in your home. In addition to our gallery, we have featured pieces throughout the house. I'm a sucker for hand-print art. I also think it builds confidence in our kids to see their work framed! Just use recycled picture frames, I prefer varying sizes. If you don't have picture frames you can find inexpensive options at Target or the craft store. When the art doesn't fit perfectly in the frame, simply crop the artwork and mat on a piece of card stock.
Celebrate and preserve your very favorites in a way that you can see it every day or easily access on occasion and let the rest go. If you really wanted to get cray cray you could snap a digital pic of the artwork and have it turned into a book or other memento. Be selective and mindful of what you'll really appreciate ten years from today. I get it, it can be emotional to sort through each and every creation your child has made in the school year. Their little hands and fingers are all over it, and their little hands and fingers will never be that little again.
Happy Clutter Clearing!