The Gallery ~ Saving Children's Creative Projects

A few of you have asked what we do with all our children's art and creations. To be sure we don't keep it all but we aren't minimalists when it comes to their creative energies either. 

What we do with their creations really depends on what it is. Here's how we approach it:

Flat artwork

Drawing, painting, collage, photography, etc. See my supply list for these type of crafts. 

  • If the artwork is flat and chosen by either parents or child for showcasing it goes on the gallery wall (as shown above). Damien built this corkboard gallery for our family a couple years ago. It's super easy to make with just some basic tools and building know-how. It's a key feature in our home and if you visit it's one of the first places the children will show you to share their latest artwork.
  • After a few months on the gallery wall (select pieces only are chosen for the gallery) the artwork gets filed in each child's yearly homeschool portfolio. Many pieces of Laurent's art by-pass the gallery all together and go straight to the binder. The boy is an artist and we take seriously the archiving of his work (we do with the girls also but their creative output is different and is saved differently). The girls also send artwork straight to the binder, but with much less frequency - like once every couple weeks.
  • Creative paper artwork that is not worthy of saving (as agreed by parent and child) is recycled. When the children were younger (ie: under age 7) I saved their favorite scribbles and artwork in individual memory binders. You can read more about those here
  • Select paintings done on canvas board and framed stitching projects are hung on the wall for long term. Our walls, and even windows, are decorated with photography (mine and others), stitched heirlooms and gifts from family, and our children's art. I love it! Every piece is somehow meaningful to our family. 


{In the coming month I will share more of my desk organization and this beautiful cork door Damien built}

3D Creative Projects

Sewing, stuffies, miniatures, felting, clay, etc. Anything that is not flat and takes up space.

These objects are created, in most cases, for play or some other function. We therefore treat them as we would other toys and useful items.

mixed pottery bowls

Our guidelines for accumulating and decluttering toys evolve over time, as our children grow, but are similar to what I shared in this guest post at Small Notebook.

Our kids can keep whatever toys - their own creations, gifts, or otherwise - within given parameters. Basically, there is space set aside for these things - under beds, on dressers, and in closets. Once that space is full something (or many things) have to go.

For purchased items we have a one in/one out rule. If you bring something new in the house, something else has to go. The same rule does not apply to created items though.

About once a year we do a big purge and often get rid of less-loved created objects at that time. The kids are learning to continually evaluate their possessions and will often part with created items on their own initiative.

If they are no longer playing with a creation it might get:

  • given to a cousin (if it's still in good condition)
  • recycled or burned
  • composted or thrown out

If the object is very, very meaningful to them and they want to keep it "forever" it gets stored in their childhood memory bin. Each child has one of these and quite honestly not too much gets put in them these days.

We encourage our children to consider gifting their art. And not just cast offs, but to spend energy making gifts vs. buying them. To think about the person they are creating for, what they appreciate and what their needs are. 

These posts give examples of that:

We are trying to guide our children more in the direction of mindful creation. To think about how they can use their creative gifts to bless and serve others, not just store up possessions. But we don't want to discourage the creative process so it's a bit of a balancing act sometimes. 

Sunflowers, a gift from my sister in law

I will be talking more about organizing next month. Just in time for us to pack it all up and move.

How do you display your family's creative projects?

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  • Emily

    Emily on March 24, 2011, 12:37 p.m.

    That gallery stairs corkboard!! That is just the neatest idea. Something big like that, too, to utilize an often overlooked space. Why didn't I think of that years ago? Also love the door corkboard. Damien is a handy guy. These children of yours are very talented. Proudly and unabashedly displaying their work tells them how much this talent is valued. How much THEY are valued and cherished. "Joy" written all over. Your home totally nurtures these gifts of creativity. Such a warm, happy, love-filled home.


    • renee

      renee on March 24, 2011, 1:43 p.m.

      I'm not going to brag too much about my husband just yet - I have a whole post coming soon about the beautiful work he's done in our home. I will be showing more of the corkboard door - that hids the ironing board. I can't wait to share it!


  • debra

    debra on March 24, 2011, 1:39 p.m.

    Oh, to have that corkboard!! Might have to do something about that. We "make-do" with clothespins and string - most of our walls have something set up like this, where the kids' drawings and paintings are displayed, hung from the line. Our more 3-D things also become toys or find their way to the nature table (which has a seasonal rotation, the "dark" seasons stored in a box). We also have homeschool binders and a large accordian porfolio folder from one of the grammas, where there is not quite as much discretion in storing drawings; i'm afraid it's used more as storage when mom says, "please do something with this pile!"...the girls also like to do a lot of their drawing in sketchbooks, which stores them nicely until we decide to do something else with them (gift them, hang them up, etc). thanks for sharing!!!


  • Kika

    Kika on March 24, 2011, 3:33 p.m.

    That gallery wall is wonderful. In my house, we have framed artwork or painted canvases throughout. The kids each have a corkboard of their own in their rooms but when they're younger this isn't really enough. I also have two corkboards in my laundry room for little bits of inspiration but these days they are rather ignored. We tend to have origami lining shelves and a spill over, these days, of cardboard creations (the hardest to deal with for me). My kids, when younger, are given a banker's box to store paper drawings, etc., and once that is full they must help sort through (and dispose of) most of it. My older daughter's artwork these days consists primarily of jewlery and doll clothes (some kept and some given away) and other creative gifts to give away so no storage issue here. Well, except how many bracelets or necklaces does one girl really need, anyways??? My son draws incessantly but, at almost 15, is responsible for storing (or archiving) his work. Above my fireplace I currently have on display, hanging from raffia with clothes pins, a selection of watercolor paintings by my daughters. Basically I think our home is filled with art... just the way I like it :)


  • shelli

    shelli on March 27, 2011, 1:39 a.m.

    This is a wonderful post, Renee. I love the cork board idea. I am just now at the point where I'm starting to think about these things, so thank you! Right now I have the few things I want to keep pinned up around the house. My son is still too young to think much about it -- I throw away things that aren't worth keeping and keep a few better creations. He doesn't notice. But I know he is proud when I hang something up.

    I do keep all the paper animals he and I have created in a little box. There may come a day when that box needs to be sorted through.


  • Astrid

    Astrid on April 3, 2011, 12:31 p.m.

    Great post! We always have tons of art projects all over the house- displayed in varying ways. Love the cork board! One thing I've been doing is creating photobooks of my girls' artwork (by either scanning or photographing the pieces). Now I don't feel guilty if the originals end up in the recycle bin...and they get a book they're really proud of! :)


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