Children’s Artwork: What to Keep and How to Store It

As a former art teacher, and teacher pack-rat, I truly struggle with letting things go.  
Trying to decide what artwork my 3 year old creates is trash or treasure really has perplexed me.
However, my preschool curriculum from Mother Goose Time, has really helped me start narrowing down what is worth keeping and what is okay to toss. 
What do I keep?
The purpose behind keeping artwork (for me) is to remember what was learned while making it.  
-Was this the first time she wrote her name all on her own?  
-Was this the first time she demonstrated true cutting skills?  
-Is there something special I really want to remember about this piece?  
If so, it’s a keeper.  If not, it needs to go.
MGT makes it even easier to document by giving me this handy little “My Creative Mind” sheet in lesson bags 1, 6, 11, and 16. All I have to do is cut the box and glue it to the back of Sweet Pea’s work, and if I want to write something more specific about what she learned, then I do so on the back of her work.

For example, we did all the Creative Art experiences above, but the wind day and snowflake were total busts for us, so those ended up in the trash.  Below are the 3 decent pieces we ended up with; however, I am not keeping them all. Of all 3, I will definitely keep the rainbow sculpture because on that particular lesson, she created this with no help at all, and this was the first time she demonstrated awesome cutting skills with her scissors. 
(I might also keep her Cloud painting… I think it would be a beautiful addition to brother’s nursery.)

How do I display the artwork?
It’s so important for children to take pride in their artwork and talk about what they made and how they made it.  I display Sweet Pea’s artwork for an entire month in her playroom.  Using a burlap string and clothespins I display her work.  When Daddy comes home, she can easily tell him what she made and how.  At the end of the month, I take down all the artwork she made.  I trash the things I never intended on keeping (see above section), frame the things I want displayed in the house long term, and I place all the rest in a binder for documentation (aka portfolio).
DISPLAY TIP: By adding a tape border when artwork is created, you make a great framed piece already.  Placing this artwork on top of a black mat inside a cheap Hobby Lobby frame transformed this 2 year olds watercolor into a conversation piece in our home.
How do I organize my child’s binder/ portfolio?

First of all, get a BIG binder!  I bought a one inch binder last year and ended up transferring into a larger binder halfway through our year.  Also grab some sheet protectors- this way, you never have to punch holes in the artwork, all that glitter stays in the protector, and the sculptural pieces are easily stored.

Bag lesson 20 always has the “My Portfolio” page.  The front displays the month’s topic, and the back lists some key skills that were learned.  I like to write what month we covered this unit and how old Sweet Pea was at the time.

I store her My Little Journal with the cover page, and then place all the keeper work in the sheet protectors.  I absolutely love that Self-Portrait she made!  She knew she had blue eyes, and made little circles, eyebrows, and that mouth!  LOL! cracks me up….

There you have it.
At the end of the year, I have a wonderful documentation of all the learning that took place.  I can see the growth from month to month, and my house is decorated (cheaply) by the little hands that matter most to me.

How do you document your kiddo’s creations?


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