My kids make a lot of art. I'm not going to lie, I throw most of it out. And I want you to know, it's okay to throw your kid's art out too. I'm an art teacher and have spent some time in the elementary school age group - we send home a lot of art. A LOT. It's okay to recycle it or throw it out if it can't be recycled. If it really pains you to do that, here are a few ideas for saving the art or reusing it in new ways.
1. Send it to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, etc. Let those recipients feel guilty for throwing it out, while you feel like you put the art to good use. We use this idea a lot. I hope none of my relatives are reading this.
2. Use it as wrapping paper or a greeting card. Fold it in half, write a birthday note, bingo-bango-bongo homemade greeting card. Done and done. If it's large and flat, you can wrap a gift in it. You can actually make your own wrapping paper as well. I explain it in Episode 6 of my 5-Minute Art class, which can be found here on Friday, August 6th. It's an easy activity to do with kids and puts their lovely artworks to another good use.
3. Create a digital log of their artwork and THEN recycle it. Create a virtual album of all their beautiful artworks. Let the art take up virtual storage space rather than actual storage space in your home. I use Google photos and then I also store a lot on my phone's camera. You can even create an album from all the photos you take. All of these options take up less space than storing all of the originals. I also found ArtKive for archiving kids artwork - looks like you can make framed artworks or albums. I have not tried it, but it looks like a great option. It's called ArtKive and can be found here.
4. Hang it up on an art wall. Designate one wall, bulletin board, set of frames, refrigerator, etc. in your home for displaying art and put all new stuff there. You can throw out the old stuff when you are tired of looking at it. It takes a little work to rotate the art in and out, but I think it looks nice when you can see some of the kids art around the house - I'm not a total monster. I've seen some great ways to display your kids art on Pinterest - check out my board of ideas here.
5. I repeat, throw it out/ recycle it. One tip here though, as someone who has been busted throwing out art, broken toys, and old Halloween candy, do it when they are outside, at school, or making more, new art. Don't let them see that garbage go out or you're going to have some explaining to do. (Any "I Love Lucy" fans in the house?)
I know I sound mean when I say throw it out, but as an art teacher in elementary school we would often allow "Free Draw" time at the end of art class. Some kids would make piles and piles of drawings. I always felt guilty sending it all home and I always hoped there wasn't some sentimental parent on the other end saving every last item their kid made. I wanted to send a note: "Just throw it out Janet. It's okay." But I never did. So this is my note to all those art savers out there - it's okay to throw it out, you have my permission as an art teacher and artist. We can't save it all. We will make more. Let it go.
Anyone have any other ideas for saving their kids art aside from the garbage can? Please do share in the comments.