Living with Kid Art
Center in the Square: 40 Years as Roanoke's Cultural Icon
State of the Arts
by Stephanie Fallon
August 30, 2023
The story below is a preview from our September/October 2023 issue. For more stories like it, Subscribe Today. Thank you!
The fridge isn’t the only place for your children’s art!
The first time you send your kids off to school, you may not be prepared for all the things they will bring back with them: new friends, facts and lessons they can’t wait to share, a fresh list of new songs to sing while they clean up or tie their shoes… and an absolutely astounding amount of art projects.
Nearly every day you’ll go to take their lunch box and folder with school announcements from their backpack only to find wads of semi-crushed construction paper, handfuls of painted popsicle sticks and loose googly eyes. Reams of printer paper will showcase drawings that range from Jackson Pollock-style mixed media pieces to a single pencil line so faint you might accidentally mistake it as an accident, tossing it into the recycling bin during your quick clean up. Woe is the parent who makes this fatal error in front of their child, who believes that all artwork belongs in their parents’ permanent collection. Before you know it, the refrigerator is a collage of paper, and you’re desperately piling everything else into storage boxes, or offloading it onto grandparents and aunties disguised as “special cards just for them.”
Artmaking is an essential part of child development, helping to foster creativity, motor skills and even aid in emotional regulation. But while the journey is so often the destination for these projects, you still end up with a lot of stuff at the end of it. The amount of art a child can produce will far outweigh them at the end of each year, and can easily take over your house if you don’t have a plan.
There are lots of clever storage solutions out there, but I personally like to take a different approach. Instead of taking up space keeping the stuff long enough for your kid to hopefully forget about it so you can safely throw it out, why not take this as an opportunity to 1) build a pruning practice with your child together and 2) treat a select number of works with the same care and respect as all of the other artwork and photos in your home?
One of the main reasons my daughter has been upset when I’ve given away her old toys and clothes isn’t because she still wanted them, but because I didn’t consult her. I’ve learned that the more I involve her in the process, the easier it is to keep her in developmentally and size-appropriate items without a huge meltdown. We have a basket in her closet where she puts clothes when she notices they are too small, and when it’s full, we go to trade in or donate the clothes and buy the replacements together. She loves to get excited about how much she’s grown and to plan for her new wardrobe.
When she started going to preschool and bringing home a pile of artwork roughly the size of a baby elephant each week, I knew we needed to adapt our current system.
Each day, we go through her backpack together. She tells me about the art, and it generally goes into one of three piles: “Showcase” for the pieces that are either truly great, well-made or that she is especially proud of; “Toss” for anything broken or destroyed in transit; “Store” for the rest (more on that later!).
There’s the traditional refrigerator gallery, but you can also try a large corkboard, placing it either in a central location where it will get a lot of attention (like the kitchen or playroom), or even in your child’s bedroom. We took it a step further and bought a handful of pre-matted frames that hang in various rooms in our house. These are our daughter’s gallery frames, and every so often, she chooses a new artwork to showcase in the frame. It’s an easy way to showcase her work, and she is so proud to see them hanging throughout our home.
For especially prolific little artists, you can also hang a “gallery wall” of clipboards that they can switch the artwork in and out of. This can be as straightforward as actual clipboards, or you can create an easy and low-damage option with a corkboard and some mats that you can use as frames. Simply clip the mat over the artwork and pin to the corkboard in any configuration you like. White boards with magnets will also accomplish this same feat without puncturing the art! Alternatively, you can buy (or make!) a hanging display with fishing line, twine, or yarn and use clothespins to clip the artwork onto the lines.
For 3D art, designate a shelf or a spot on the mantelpiece or a particular table. A great bonus activity for any kind of showcasing is to create a label out of index cards with the artist’s name, the title of the piece, date it was made, materials used, and then any commentary your child has told you about it. Not only will this help document the details of the piece for you, but it will also make your child burst with pride. Super ultimate bonus activity: host an art opening!
Want to learn more about the three pile system, including great storage tips and how to figure out what to toss? Check out the latest issue, now on newsstands, or see it for free in our digital guide linked below!
The story above is a preview from our September/October 2023 issue. For more stories like it, Subscribe Today. Thank you!
by Stephanie Fallon
August 30, 2023
10:33 AMThe story below is a preview from our September/October 2023 issue. For more stories like it, Subscribe Today. Thank you! The first timeThe Three Pile System ShowcaseStoreWant to learn more about the three pile system, including great storage tips and how to figure out what to toss? Check out the latest issue, now on newsstands, or see it for free in our digital guide linked below!The story above is a preview from our September/October 2023 issue. For more stories like it, Subscribe Today. Thank you!