young boy painting

Young children are prolific makers of art — their creativity flowing from mind to paper with ease. Yet those precious papers overrun the house in no time at all. You’re hesitant to toss any, but there are only so many drawings a refrigerator can hold. What’s a parent to do?

Below are some ideas for preserving and repurposing your child’s artwork.

1. Frame it

Sit down with your child and select your favorites. Then attach the works onto the wall, whether you tape them on directly, hang papers from a clothesline or use an assortment of frames (readily available and cheap at thrift stores or yard sales).

Perhaps you’ll designate an entire wall of your child’s bedroom for displaying her artwork. Like an art gallery, you might update the collection every few months with more recent creations. Or set up a chronological display to see how his art has changed from toddler to school-age years.

To make picture replacement easy, you can use easy access, side-opening frames or remove the glass and fill frames with corkboard to which you can pin the artwork.

2. Gift It

I have placed some of my daughter Sofie’s nicer paintings into 4×6” frames and given them to family members. Grandparents especially appreciate these personal touches. (Check with your child first to make sure she’s okay with giving away her art.)

Don’t feel tied to using an entire painting, especially with toddler art. Make a collage from several pieces or crop the artwork as you see fit. Trimmed to a postal-friendly size, you can make unique greeting cards or postcards (if using a heavier cardstock). Alternatively, children’s art can find a second life as gift wrap, a great idea for birthday parties.

3. Game It

Turn a piece of art into a puzzle by gluing the paper to cardstock. Then cut it into an age-appropriate number of shapes. Your kid will have fun putting together his own art, and you’ll save from buying new puzzles!

Child painting at an easel

4. Scan It

One space-saving method of preserving your darling’s doodles is to document them digitally. (Whew! Say that five times fast.) Scan pieces or take photos and upload them to your computer. There are a number of apps for organizing, uploading and sharing the art such as Art My Kid MadeArtkive or Canvsly.

Sofie has become interested in selling some of her artwork, so we’ve started building a website to exhibit her work. Even minus the selling part, this is a good option for sharing artwork with long-distance family and friends or preserving it for nostalgia. Older kids might enjoy writing about what inspired them in their creations. You can build a simple website for free via WordPress, Blogger or Weebly.

5. Book It

Turn a collection of childhood art into a beautiful coffee table book. It’s a great way to compile artwork into something that will last longer; your child may even choose to take a few books with him when he leaves home. Online sites such as Plum Print and My Jr. Picasso will make the book for you. Or you can always design your own via photo sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish.

6. Donate It

Kids’ Art for the Cure” accepts non-glittery paintings and drawings that they’ll turn into note cards for a good cause: finding a cure for cancer.

And what about the artwork you don’t want to save? Recycle it, of course!