Tips for Preserving Kids’ Artwork (Without Keeping Everything)

Tips for Preserving Kids' Artwork (Without Keeping Everything)It’s never too early to start weighing tips for preserving kids’ artwork—or you may find yourself still dealing with it when your kids have their own kids. When my parents were cleaning out their attic recently, they found some old artwork of mine from when I was young … which means it had been up there for decades. I ended up getting rid of most (or maybe all) of it, partly because I already have enough tangible reminders of my childhood, and partly because our house is already becoming overrun by my own son’s school papers and art. When at least one thing comes home in his backpack every day, and there are 180 days in the school year … well, it adds up. (Luckily, there isn’t enough stuff to have expanded into our attic yet — or basement.) So, moms, do tell: How do you organize and preserve your kids’ artwork and schoolwork? Do you save everything? Save only a few special or otherwise noteworthy things? Throw everything in a big box for now, or sort it neatly by grade or age? 

We’ve rounded up a few tips for preserving kids’ artwork (without keeping everything):

1. Artkive: Once you pay for membership (via the iOS/Android app or the website), you can start taking pictures of your kids’ artwork or other schoolwork and organizing it all by tagging each piece with your kid’s name and grade and the date and title. Everything gets stored in the cloud. With all that you’ve added, you can create photo books of your child’s work, and you can use Artkive credits to pay for them—buy either $50, $100, $150, or $200 worth. If you don’t have time to do that but do have some money to throw at the problem, you can choose to have the company do the work with its Concierge service. Working with an Artkive specialist, you’ll send your kid’s art (with a prepaid shipping label), review your book once it’s been designed, and then receive a hardcover portfolio book. Concierge packages start at $39; the pricier options (currently discounted to $149–$299) include 50–200 pieces of art. The regular plans offer three options with different perks: Organizer at $3/month, Creator at $5/month, and Book Lover at $13/month.

2. Plum PrintIf Artkive’s Concierge option sounds tempting, you may be interested in Plum Print. You’ll ship your kid’s artwork with a prepaid label (and pay a $39.99 deposit), indicating whether you’d like the pieces returned for $14.99, or, as the company puts it, sent to “Artwork Heaven.” Plum Print will photograph the items and send you a digital proof of your book (either hardcover or softcover), then ship your book for free. The books have a wide range of prices, from $75 to $875, depending on the book’s size and format and how much artwork you use. You can also order other customized items, including notecards and calendars. If you aren’t planning to order a book in the near future, you can choose a “digital only” plan, which means Plum Print will digitize up to 20 pieces for the same $39.99 deposit; each additional is $0.99.

 3. Keepy: Keepy offers both iOS and Android apps (plus the browser version) that let you save (in the cloud), organize, and share your kid’s art, schoolwork, photos, and more. (You can share within your private gallery or via social media — and in the public Keepy Community, as well.) You can add video and narration, and family and friends can add comments via text, voice, or video. If you like, you can add auto-sync from Dropbox. In addition to photo books, you can order coasters, magnets, and other customized items. Keepy’s website addresses questions about pricing by pointing prospective customers to the respective app stores; it appears that a subscription is $14.99/year through iTunes (for Unlimited), and $17+/year (?) through the Google Play store.

4. Just take photos of the artwork with your smartphone and put them in your regular photo albums. This is what Kat does: She snaps photos of the artwork as it comes in, discards anything but the cutest stuff, and deals with them as part of her regular process for organizing family photos, which includes putting them into the yearly photo albums she makes (well, tries to make). Her $.02: The colors and textures of the original artwork are preserved better via her iPhone snapshots rather than scanning on her home printer.

Here are a few non-digital options: 

  • Use this frame or this frame (both available at Amazon; affiliate links*) to easily switch out art (and store some, too).
  • Choose a couple of special pieces to get professionally framed. If you don’t have time to go to the store to do it, you might want to check out online-framing site Framebridge, which I just heard about. You can choose your own frame or let their designers suggest some. Apartment Therapy has seven other suggestions for online framers.
  • Try these tips from Martha Stewart (video) for using acid-free boxes, frames, and scrapbooks.

When it comes to your kids’ artwork, schoolwork, etc., how much do you save, and what do you toss? Do you throw away the originals after you scan or photograph them? Have you changed your methods as your kids have gotten older? Have you tried any of our tips for preserving kids’ artwork, or do you have your own tips and methods to recommend?

*This post contains affiliate links and CorporetteMoms may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!tips for preserving kids' artwork

Picture credit: Kate Antoniades (photo by KA, artwork by son). 

We rounded up the best tips for preserving kids' artwork -- without keeping absolutely everything and drowning in it! Artwork, worksheets, school papers, and more -- how do you deal with the clutter while honoring the work your child put into it? Working moms discuss their methods for how to preserve their kids' artwork.

 

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Comments

  1. I have two systems:

    1) If I remember, I snap a picture of the artwork. I have a google album called “[Name] Artwork” for each kid and I randomly go through my photos and add any appropriate pics to those albums. Those albums are auto-shared with grandparents for maximum awwwww factor.

    2) I throw the physical stuff in a bin in the closet. There’s no rhyme to this – some stuff goes in and some goes in the trash. I have a bin for each kid, but I think I’ve gotten some mixed up between the two. At some point, I will Do Something with the bins, but I’m not sure what that is or when that will be. I think I originally had plans of organizing them and sending any extras to grandparents in the mail, but that has happened exactly Zero times since Oldest was born.

    • ThatGirl says:

      I keep all his artwork in a file folder currently. I haven’t thrown anything away yet but he’s only 6 months old! I really want to mail some of the originals to grandparents, but I haven’t done so yet either. Maybe that will be my “project” while I’m away on business travel tomorrow night.

  2. I need to do something. I wanted to take photos myself but the lighting and whatnot just doesn’t look fantastic. So I don’t know what to do without spending $1000s (exaggerating).

  3. 1) Hang most immediately on our wall display (the clips on a wire from Ikea) if I can’t sneak it into the trash. About once per month go through and pick my favorites (typically stuff that the kids have actually put forth effort on/hand prints/etc.).
    2) When I was on mat. leave with each kid I created a file box with their name on it and file folders for each age (1-3, 3-5, then grades) with a folder for medical, school work, and art work. So I file my favorites in here. I’ll remove some if the file is getting too full.

    It has worked well thus far, but we will see how it goes when there is more school work paper as they get older.

    • What type of file box and folders do you use? Clearly overthinking things ;)

      • It’s a clear box that is about the size of a legal box and made for files. I bought them from Staples I believe. I use the typical hanging folders for each age, and manila folders for each break out.

        If you search for organizing kid papers on pinterest, something similar will come up. I didn’t go all out, but used the technique I found there.

    • SD in DC says:

      I really like your idea of setting up a file box for each kid. Kat and Kate – I’d be interested in seeing a separate organization post tackling this topic of organizing and storing kid-specific paperwork (medical, school, etc.). I guess this could be applied more broadly across the family, but I’m thinking of all the paper that comes home from school and making sure things don’t get missed and/or lost.

  4. Anon CPA says:

    We use the same IKEA wire system – I hang my favorites on that for a few months, and then once a season or so I go through and purge. I recycle the VAST majority, and save and date a few pieces to go in their keepsake boxes.

  5. Artemis says:

    I have a rectangular wire photo-holder rack on my kitchen wall in which I stick the most recent stuff or the stuff the kids like best, for display for a few weeks or so. Once it’s outdated (like holiday art) or the kids just seem to be over it, it goes in the recycling bin. I’ve explained to them that their art is very important and that’s why we display it, to enjoy it, but if we kept it all, our house would be full of paper. Luckily they get that.

    I do save some stuff. In my office closet I have a scrapbook box for each kid (those plastic locking square, shallow containers you can get at Michael’s or AC Moore, etc.). Anything I save goes in there. My criteria for saving are 1) if it is art that has a handprint or footprint, since these are often the cutest and also show growth, and 2) if the kid REALLY REALLY wants to keep it (like my oldest’s first independent drawing from his first elementary school art class).

    Surprisingly, I’ve kept lots of good stuff but the small boxes have lots of room left.

  6. Mrs. Jones says:

    I take pictures of everything, and husband puts them in folders for me. We could make an album/book but haven’t yet. I throw away 97% and keep the best in file folders/boxes.

  7. I am getting super overwhelmed by the amount of toddler art (and baby art that we already have). My plan is to do one of those books but I haven’t yet.

    My dad also recently gave me a box of my old preschool art. I was actually kind of really mad about it. Why is your inability to get rid of things now my problem? Pre school art is for the parents. You figure it out.

    • I think this is a matter of preference. I loved receiving my art/school paper box from my mom, but I’m a nostalgic sap.

    • Why not just throw it away if you don’t want it? He gave it to you, you can give it to the recycling fairy.

  8. Not a perfect system, but I’ll be real… we let art stack up and become clutter. When I get tired of it, I throw it away and take a picture on my iphone if I feel guilty about it.

    Occasionally, daycare will send home some laminated art–usually for Mother’s or Father’s Day or a holiday, and in a booklet at the end of the year. I put those in a file folder, which contains a mish-mash of art, printed photos, holiday cards, etc. (There are also file folders for me, DH, and me+DH. All of this fits into one desk drawer, so I’m pretty selective about what I save.)

    • Anonanonanon says:

      We let it become clutter/file it away for the school year, then at the end of the school year my husband and I go back through and keep a couple of favourites and toss everything else. ours is just in a file folder as well

  9. Anonanonanon says:

    THANK YOU everyone for your feedback on the UPPA baby Cruz stroller yesterday! I love this site :)

    This is my second/last and it’s 7 years after my first, so sounds like the Cruz will work for us since we don’t need to convert it to a double. Was glad to hear about the customer service too, I’m ashamed I didn’t even think to ask!

  10. Newbie says:

    Long time reader, first time poster – just had the seven week ultrasound where everything looked good, so it seemed to be time to join in. We had significant fertility struggles, and I’m geriatric in terms of recommend age, so we’re still nervous, but currently relishing the excitement factor. And contemplating a spreadsheet to start the mega list of todos.

    In terms of preserving artwork/photos, I’ve realized that I should probably finish our wedding album before we get overwhelmed by new photos. We started with a whole roll from the ultrasound, which I wasn’t expecting. (Yes we’re super excited but it’s a really cute … black circle?) I have started a google doc where I’ve been writing little notes like when we found out, doing initial research etc.

  11. JinSeattle says:

    This is totally not my usual jam, not artsy in the least, but I recently made a collage of selected toddler artwork (from a big stack that was sent home from preschool). I cut out interesting bits of each piece and then mounted them on a plain background, popped into a minimalist frame, and it looks great! Now we just need to hang it somewhere….

  12. Jennifer FP says:

    I haven’t started drowning in art yet, but to nip it in the butt, we scan it, and save it to my child’s Google drive. Label it with the date and recycle.

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