Children's Artwork -- Priceless Collection or Just More Clutter?
By Heather Idoni
Added Friday, January 19, 2007
The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 5 January 19, 2007
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net
Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
IN THIS ISSUE:
Notes from Heather
-- Reader Feedback
-- College Professors
-- Core Knowledge
Our Reader Question
-- Kids Artwork Clutter
-- Sponsorship Info
-- Reprint Info
-- Subscriber Info
Notes from Heather
I received emails from some of our readers this week. The first 2
entries are additions to Kendra's "tips" for non-homeschoolers that
we shared last issue. Also, don't miss the answers to Friday's
reader question about children's artwork. We received over 30
responses that included some amazingly creative ideas!! Thanks for
More "Tips" for Non-Homeschoolers
"This probably applies more to friends/siblings than grandparents,
but please don't assume because I am home all day that I can watch
your children anytime, pick them up or take them somewhere anytime,
or just drop everything if you 'pop in' for a visit.
Next, our children can use a nice outfit if that's a gift you choose
to give, too -- not just those nieces/nephews and grandkids who go to
a 'real' school. And the children DO notice when you (who are
relatives) buy lots of nice things for the back-to-school kiddos and
not our kids. Please realize this and be considerate of their feelings.
Please understand that it's difficult to haul 7 children to the doctor
when one of them is sick -- it would be nice if you are willing to
watch the healthy ones for an hour or two, so I can take just the sick
child to the doctor. After all, their 'real' school cousins get to
stay all day with you when they are sick so that their moms can still
go to work. And when one or more of my children is sick, I am even
busier than ever, and really can't stop to chat at a moment's notice.
Please, don't 'test' my children on their academic knowledge. You
never think of doing this with the 'real' school children. And don't
assume, that because one of them childishly says something that is
incorrect, that school doesn't happen here -- ALL kids say things
wrong at one time or another.
Probably most important of all, please be encouraging to me, as the
homeschool mom. Don't run down homeschooling IN FRONT OF
or, worse yet, TO my children, even if you feel it necessary to do it
to me personally. Nobody criticized you for sending me to public
school --please respect our choices, as well." -- Anonymous
"If you see something great going on in one of the children, encourage
me by telling me what a good job I am doing. Encouragement goes a
long way." -- Millie J.
Feedback from Ohio
"I love this newsletter! I get ideas to use for my nieces (one home
schools, the other two send their children to school, but work with
them at home). I also use some of the ideas in volunteering at school
with Special Education kids, and pass them on to teachers. I work for
the Columbus Metropolitan Library and use some of the ideas for our
The Columbus Metropolitan Library now subscribes to Rosetta Stone
On another note, CML has increased their Home Schooler's materials
(magazines, books, free newsletters, etc.). We have one branch, the
Southeast Branch, that holds programming for Homeschoolers almost year
round. Anyone who lives in the Central Ohio Area can take part. Others
can check their local libraries for materials and programs." -- JoBright
More on Reading Comprehension
"In subbing in a second grade I was doing a read aloud with the class.
It was a story about a picnic. I stopped and asked them 'What color is
the picnic cloth?' They had no idea what I meant. That's when I
realized that most children do not 'read'. They call the words like
flash cards in a row. Reading is making pictures/connections in your
head and they were not doing that. Since then I see it happening
everywhere! These kids were so amazed when I explained to them what
they were supposed to be doing. At first they were confused when one
would say yellow and another brown. Then they realized they would make
their own picture and it was okay as long as it fit the reading. It
was wonderful to see 'lights going on all over the room'." -- Nancie
Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Professor makes a difference!
For those of you with children attending community college for
dual crediting, and also for those with college-bound children,
this site is VERY helpful for not only avoiding bad professors but
finding professors that are a good match for your learning style.
Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HNemail@example.com
Core Knowledge Lesson Plans
"If you’re familiar with the book series “What Your __ Grader Needs
To Know” by E. D. Hirsch, then you’ll like this website. Teachers
that use this curriculum have put many of their lessons/units on the
web. Click 'Lesson Plans' on the left side of the screen. You'll
find lessons for grades 1 - 8, all organized by subject area."
-- brought to us by Cindy -- www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com
Last Issue's Reader Question
"What do you all do with all the drawings, crafts, etc. that your kids
make? I have 2 girls who love to color, draw and create. They are
good at this type of ability but I can't keep it all! I threw away
some pictures and my 6 year old was VERY upset. Keep in mind, it was
just a few marks on a paper I didn't realize it was important to her.
Where can I keep it so it doesn't take over the house? How do I
teach her you can't keep every piece of paper forever?" -- Michelle L.
Our Readers' Responses
[We had a record 31 responses to our question from Michelle!!
I didn't have room for all the emails that were sent... and they were
ALL great. The 24 that I selected are fairly representative of all the
ideas that were shared, and some were edited for space. Thanks to
everyone who wrote in! There are some real *gem* ideas!! - Heather]
"We had similar problems with art and school work piling in our
children's rooms (and I have 5!). My husband suggested we buy a
plastic (Rubbermaid) storage box for each kid. I allow them to hang
their artwork on the fridge for awhile, and we rotate every few days.
When artwork gets taken down, they can either put it directly into their
storage box, or throw it away. When the boxes get full after awhile,
we will have them go through and discard things that they may no
longer want to keep. The only limit they have is that the work they
keep has to fit inside the box." -- Krystyna C.
"There are a few things I do with my children's art. I have their
artwork reduced in size and copied on the front of folded 8.5 X 11 card
stock to use as greeting cards. In addition, I mat and frame their most
treasured works and they brighten our playroom and multiple spots in
our home. I also keep their most important/loved art work in a port-
folio. Other works of art are in a gallery on the white walls in our
garage. Each time we drive into the garage we are greeted by bright,
colorful works of art. I also use some pieces for stationery; writing
on the back. I know others who take digital photos of the artwork and
keep in one file." -- Melanie in MI
"We make a big deal of taking a picture of their artistic creation. Then
I make a digital scrapbook page and include it. Each of our 4 children
seems fine with this method. Then, if the piece of art is lost or
damaged, we still have a picture. Often, I encourage the children to
give their artwork to friends, family, neighbors and folks at church --
a gift for them; less clutter for our family." -- Linda
"We have had this same problem through 19 yrs., 6 children. I
bought a large storage container for each child to store under their
bed to put items they wanted to keep. From the beginning I
explained to only put the most important things in the box because
once the box got full, they would not be able to keep anything else
(please note - this is 'elementary talk' -- don't try this with your
teenager!). This first step helped to eliminate some 'treasures' right
away. I also taught them that some things were designed to have
fun with for just a little while, others were made to be keepsakes;
to make a distinction between the Sunday School papers vs. the
birthday cards from the grandparents, for example. When the box
started to get full, I would suggest they sort through the collection.
Amazingly enough, some papers and creations don't seem as valuable
later on compared with newer ones, therefore they become easier to
part with. This worked really well for us. It made the children
responsible for their own clutter and helped them to prioritize which
things were really important to save for posterity!" -- Helen H.
"I have a friend who homeschools and she started hanging her children's
artwork on her refrigerator. When the refrigerator was full, she
took a picture of all of the artwork and then removed it and
discreetly through it away. She puts the pictures in a scrapbook
and labels it. This way, all of the kid's precious works of art are
saved and so is your space." -- Donna T.
"My suggestion requires a scanner. (Honestly, I'd don't know how
I'd survive school without my 3 in 1!) If you scan in their artwork,
you can do several things with them. You could make a scrapbook page
of images along with a picture of your child in the creation process.
You can create a disk for each child's artwork and include it in a
sleeve in the back of an art notebook. You can even add the artwork
to your screensaver. Your child would probably be thrilled with this
option and wouldn't mind if the originals disappeared! Along with this,
you can teach your child to do the scanning. My 8 year old son does
all of my scanning as I am trying to make electronic copies of all my
photos and scrapbook pages.
Another unusual idea that I heard years ago involved turning your
garage into an art gallery. The woman painted her garage a neutral
color and then painted frames all over the wall. She had a section for
each of her children. When the children had new artwork, they would
put them in the 'frames'. There was plenty of room in their gallery,
but if all the frames were full and a new piece needed to go up, the
children would have to decide which of their other creations needed to
go to make room for it. Everyone in the family loved it. Mom didn't
have to deal with the clutter, Dad got to see all the latest, and the
kids felt like featured artists. Personally, it wouldn't work in my
garage, but perhaps you have another room that you could designate a
wall?" -- Michel
"We have 5 children so this is something that I had to get a handle
on. At Walmart you can purchase an art folder for around $5.00 and
it's plastic with a handle on it. It's very thin with many slots to put
their work in. Then at the end of the month we can go thru and keep
their really good ones and they have to toss the others. If they're
really good I'll tape them up on the wall for the month -- I've seen
some people buy cheap frames at the dollar store and change the
drawings each week. I've thought of doing that. They just need it to
be celebrated in some way." -- Melinda in CO
"I use filing boxes to store artwork and special papers. My 2 oldest
are 26 and 21 and I still have a lot of their artwork from when they
were in school. I laminated some of their most creative paintings.
Now that I have a granddaughter, she will be able to see things her
daddy did when he was her age." -- Kristi
"I usually pick the best 'art piece' and put it in a treasure box (a
box for each child to put all their momentos in). Then I take extras
and send to grandma and aunts. They really love getting homemade art!
I also put it in any packages I send to loved ones." -- Gina in TX
"I am a homeschooling mother with five children. Once a week or so,
I go through all of my 5 year old's artwork and papers. I keep what I
think is best and toss the rest out. I'll also ask her questions as
I'm going through her drawings. If the drawing has significant meaning
such as, 'that's us taking a walk Mommy' then I will mark what she
says on the paper, include her age, and store it. If it's just a few
scribbles and she had nothing to say about it, I will toss it without
her knowledge. It works! As the child grows older there is less
paper mess." -- Vivian M.
"I would suggest to the girls that the take the extra drawings to
locations where they could bring joy. Have them to take them to
Senior citizens' nursing homes, long term wards in hospitals, to
the kids' wards in hospitals. Give them to older persons at your
local church who no longer have family members. They need not
say they were created for them specifically. They can say, 'here
are drawings or art projects that brought joy into our home that
I now want you to have so you too can feel that joy.' It gives you
a place to send their extra work, and at the same time teaches
them a valuable lesson about spreading joy to others." -- Sandra L.
"I have a wonderful picture that my oldest daughter painted when
she was about four years old. The title is 'Cat in a Sweater'.
It's wonderful. Bright blue, red, and yellow. You can tell it's a
blue cat wearing a red sweater. I'm going to have it framed and give
it to her for her nursery! Won't that be fun? Guess I'm going to
need to pull out that storage box again -- once those grandbabies
start coming. Can't wait!" -- Joanne in AL
"When my daughter was that age I would have a picture of the week.
I purchased a large picture frame and allowed her to choose one picture
to place in it for a week. She was allowed to choose one picture
to send to each set of grandparents and her great-grandmother. Once
the week was up I would place her pic-of-the-week in a portfolio case
to keep. Twice per year we would go through portfolio case and she
was allowed to choose four pictures to keep permanently. After a few
years or so she was more discriminating about the pictures she
chose to keep in the case. Others she hung a bulletin board I
purchased for her bed room. Now at 13 she keeps her drawings in a
sketch pad, but we still use the same system for storing the pictures.
She gives some to other relatives or friends." -- Beth G.
"Boy, I can sympathize! I have five daughters, so you can imagine
I have dealt with my share of masterpieces! Little girls love to draw!
What I learned to do was dedicate one entire side of my refrigerator
to their artwork. I mean, the entire thing would be covered and then
new layers would start on top of the old ones! Finally, usually after
a couple of months, the girls would forget they ever drew most of the
stuff that was buried down at the bottom and I could surreptitiously
remove them, FOLD them up and bury them at the bottom of the
trash can (so they wouldn't see it if they happened to throw something
away). Of course, I kept many of their drawings in my 'mommy box'
in my closet, and sometimes I would ask them if they wanted to
keep their drawings in their room. They would each have to find a
place to save them. I'm so glad now that my oldest girls are 21
and 18 that I kept some of those precious pictures! -- Lisa Vitello
New HarvestHomestead - www.newharvesthomestead.com
"Here's what I do, I have a file cabinet, where they are to put all
their artwork they want to keep. I occasionally weed through it
and keep the best pics. After the year is over, I go to the office
store and get it bound into it's own little book. It's inexpensive
and makes it easier to store." -- Crystal N.
"My children also love to draw. They are always bringing us pictures
they drew. I finally told them their gifts would always be in our
hearts. We didn't have room to keep them all in our house. My daughter
mentions that pretty often when a picture turns up missing." -- Sylvia
"Here's what I did: I went to Michaels and bought a large black
portfolio with handles. It holds a lot of pictures and sem-flat art
items. I, too, want to keep my childrens' art projects. I have 2
portfolios so far for 2 children, and will be purchasing 2 more for my
youngest 2 who are just beginning to draw. The portfolios stand neatly
against a wall in a closet and every once in a while I collect the
artwork and label the items with their name, age, and what they call the
picture and then place the items in their portfolios. My oldest loves
to use clay to sculpt, so I have devoted 2 shelves for displaying any
sculpture projects. The portfolios are made of a durable cardboard and
are very inexpensive. Happy art collecting!" -- Julie in IL
"I too have kids that create artwork at an incredible pace. The best
advice I was given was to take a digital picture of it *with* your
child. Then you have a picture to remember it by and you get get rid
of it. I have also done this with toys and stuffed animals we needed
to pass on." -- Sara L.
"I have a tall plastic set of drawers. I assign one to each of my four
children, where they can keep any papers that they want (after we
have hung them up or displayed them for a period of time). When it’s
full or at the end of the school year, whichever comes first, we go
through it together and decide what to keep. I usually keep one
manila envelope full of samples -- the best and some of the worst
of their work to show progress -- and also some of my favorites and
some of my child’s favorites. For the real 'pack rat' child who wants
to keep everything, this allows for a measure of control and keeping
what they want. But they also know that when the drawer is full,
they will have to sort through and make some choices. Somehow
it seems easier to throw some things away when you are looking at
it all together and see other things you want to keep even more.
One other idea for when there is a plethora of larger projects that
pile up -- take pictures of each one and put those in their notebook,
scrapbook (or manila envelope). I have one friend who regularly takes
pictures of her children doing school activities that don’t have visible
reminders (e.g. baking activities, gardening or even reading to a
younger child). All of those go in her portfolio which she shows the
evaluator at the end of the year." -- Dana W.
"I have three boys and they have a basket in their room. If they
make something I wish to keep (such as hand prints, etc), then I
put it in my box of keepsakes. But, if they want to keep it, they
put it in their baskets. When they are full, they clean it out. It's
amazing how they will throw away old pictures in order to add new
ones. They also draw stories. To keep these in order and in
place, I buy each one their own sketch book and put their name
on it. They can draw in it during break or while waiting on me to
finish a subject with their siblings. Now, there aren't loose papers
floating around our school room and they have a book we can
keep for life." -- Gwen M.
"You can decoupage their art onto almost anything -- from a dresser
to a lampshade. Their art could also be used for covering their
favorite books as covers. You can use their art to make thank you
cards, birthday cards, get well cards, and even the envelopes for
these cards. You can frame select peices as decorations around the
house. You could make placemats out of their art or even cover the
entire surface of the kitchen table and get a clear table cloth or
protective cover. I'm an artist and I teach art to my kids and the
other homeschooled kids in our group, so these are some tested ideas
that the kids have loved." -- Sheri L.
"I take a picture of my child with their art work before it is tossed.
For larger art projects such as a stuffed penguin that is almost as
tall as the 6 year old it enables them to 'let go' of it when they have
played with it to the point it is in tatters as they always have a
picture of it." -- GG
"What do you do with all the 'stuff' they make? I treasure it. Because
as my children have aged they have also eliminated their creations to
focus on 'the books'. I used to keep a largish box in their closet and
after the work had hung on their personal bulletin board (which was in
a 'public' place), it then moved to the box. When the box got full I
dated it, put their name on it in big letters, stuffed more stuff in it,
then sealed it and put it in the storage room. When your feeling 'old'
some day you'll weep with emotion and joy that you have treasured what
those precious hands created. And your children will be affirmed that
you took the time to really look at what was important to them." -- Sara
Answer our NEW Question
"I am graduating my oldest child this year. I have found that as I
prepare to wrap up her formal education I have lost my passion for
home schooling my younger children. Is this common? I still have
no desire to send them elsewhere for their education, I just seem
to be doing less of a quality job with them as the focus is centered
on making sure our oldest has all her gaps filled." -- Melissa
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Tags: reading comprehension, free Rosetta Stone online, libraries providing Rosetta Stone free, rate college professors, displaying children's artwork, framing children's art, storing children's art, digital storage of artwork, enjoying artistic children, tips